Start your own Green Investment Fund
There are all sorts of free things you can do that save money and help the environment at the same time. Generally these relate to consuming less and more wisely and Ruchira has provided really priceless advice on this front.
But other environment and money saving changes require a considerable up-front cost. Installing a solar panel or better insulation in your house, buying a bike to avoid the carbon-intensive commute, and installing energy-monitoring equipment all require a serious up-front cost.
Each of these investments will quickly pay themselves off but for people like me, who are bad at managing money, there is rarely cash left in the bank when we get around to considering these purchases. As a result, we continue to go each month bike-less while shelling up cash for a bus pass and feeling bad for ourselves.
Fortunately there is a solution to this that I am going to try and would suggest others try too: create your own green investment fund. You may not be able to add the title to your CV but it is a simple and effective way to finally make all those important environment and money saving investments.
Here is how it works:
1. Use some self-control and finally invest in any one of the money and environment saving investments on your wish list; say, a bike.
2. Next set up a bank account (these are easy and free) and calculate the amount of money you save each week now that you have a bike (so, the cost of a monthly bus pass)
3. Each month add this amount of savings to your bank account. Mark your calendar, make the transfer on pay day, or set up a scheduled direct debit. This may feel like you are paying a bill but remember, this is money that you would not have had you not bought the bike anyways
4. As the bank account balance gets big enough, use it to purchase the next environment and money saving investment on your to do list; say, a low-energy appliance.
5. Again calculate the savings (there are many online tools for doing this) and add this amount on top of the bike savings to the account each month.
6. Repeat indefinitely.
As a result of these six simple steps, you essentially create a green investment fund. And like other good investment funds, the size grows continually. If you are vigilant about sticking to the payments you will quickly see your fund get exponentially large. As a result, you'll quickly go from that person who couldn't afford a bike and therefore rode the polluting bus around all day, to the only person on the block contributing rather than pulling from the energy grid.