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"Reduce, Reuse, Recycle"
Meet the Hallinans – the Poster Family of Frugality
What’s a family to do in the face of today’s tough economic times? Sometimes good financial advice can be as close as your next-door neighbor, a good friend or a family member who knows how to pinch pennies and manage money better than most.
Meet Leigh and Jay Hallinan. For this Atlanta, Georgia couple, being thrifty is as much about reducing their consumption of environmental resources as it is about spending less and saving more money.
“We live by ‘reduce, reuse, recycle,’ ” notes Leigh Hallinan, a retail store manager. “But reduce is the first and most important. Rather than using a lot of resources and then having to recycle it all, we start by reducing our consumption and this helps us cut back on expenses and benefit the environment.”
A case in point: by receiving and paying their bills online, Leigh and Jay save money on stamps and envelopes while cutting down on trips to the post office. It also enables them to contribute to a healthier environment and save trees by reducing paper usage and household garbage.
Top 10 Tips to Save the Hallinan Way
Viewing and paying bills online isn’t the only way they save money. Here are 10 more ways to stretch your dollars each month:
- Stamp Out Stamps - The Hallinans rarely buy stamps anymore now that they receive and pay most of their bills online at their bank’s website. The savings add up to around $60 a year — enough to buy diapers for their infant son, Connor, for two months.
- Hang on to Your Money - By scheduling electronic bill payments for the due date, Leigh and Jay can keep money in their checking account until the very last minute — a great way to improve cash flow.
- Conserve Fuel - Most days, Jay Hallinan, an architect, takes the subway or cycles the 14 miles roundtrip to his downtown Atlanta office. Besides saving money by conserving fuel, Jay’s non-traditional commute helps him stay in shape and contributes to a healthier environment.
- Shop by the List - The Hallinans go to the grocery store only about twice a month to cut down on gas consumption. They shop with a list of items needed for planned meals at home. By planning the family’s meals ahead of time, they cut down on food waste while saving on their grocery bill.
- Homemade Is Best - The couple eats at home most of the time. They even make their son Connor’s baby food — homemade entrees like butternut squash from the garden — in their blender. Individual servings are kept in an ice cube tray. Then, they spoon up an individual portion from an ice cube tray and heat it up in the microwave before serving. It costs them about $5 to feed Connor for 10 days. Besides, Leigh likes being able to limit Connor’s intake of sugar, salt and other additives.
- Free Is Good - Leigh and Jay are always on the lookout for low-cost entertainment like free days at the kids’ museum and the zoo, plus discounted tickets to bicycle races and other sporting events. Fortunately, some of their favorite outdoor activities are free: cycling, kayaking, running and walking.
- Little Things Do Add Up - Leigh and Jay try to avoid using disposable items. Instead of saran wrap, they cover plates with a plastic lid for heating up food in the microwave. They also clean and reuse ziplock plastic bags and plastic takeout containers, and they use old towels rather than paper towels to clean up spills around the house.
- Reuse It - To cut down on their water bill and conserve water, Leigh and Jay capture rainwater in a 60 gallon barrel in their yard, along with gray water in the shower and the kitchen sink, for use in watering their yard and their garden. They also use both sides of computer printer paper to make grocery and to-do lists.
- Make It Last - Jay’s Subaru may be getting old, but keeping it is better than shelling out hundreds of dollars in monthly car payments for a new car. Since Jay bikes to work most days, it stays parked in the driveway most of the time anyway.
- Energy Efficient - Summers may be hot in Atlanta, but they don’t crank up their air conditioner like most do. Their programmable thermostat stays set at 78 degrees in summer and 68 degrees in winter.