If you’re currently earning a six-digit salary, you might wonder whether Greenimalist living is worth the trouble. Perhaps you already own a car and you don’t mind paying extra for insurance and gasoline. Maybe the idea of conserving electricity to save $100 each month seems irrelevant because you earn that much in a single hour. If the savings are tiny in comparison to your income, are they even worth the effort?
First, let me congratulate you on your excellent salary. I wish I had the luxury to turn down free money. I don’t earn anywhere near six-digits, and most of America doesn’t, either. The median household income in America is $50,000/yr. For most of us, saving $25,000/yr. from downsizing feels the same as receiving a 50% raise. Downsizing is the only way I can get out of debt and do work I’m passionate about. Without Greenimalist living, I’d have to find another job and live from paycheck to paycheck.
But even if you’re wealthy, there’s still plenty of incentive to live green. Sure, you might be earning plenty of money now, but you might as well be earning more. If you’re currently earning $50 per hour, why not earn $55? By saving hundreds of dollars with only a few seconds of effort, you’re effectively raising your hourly wage. Most lifestyle changes become habits; eventually, they require no effort at all. For example, I started living without a cell-phone last December. With some minor adjustments, I’m now saving $60 each month without any wasted time. Your productivity might even increase if you frequently receive distracting phone calls.
Imagine walking down the street and passing by an unclaimed twenty dollar bill. Sure, you might not need the money — but you’d probably pick it up anyway. Yet by not living green, we’re passing by thousands of dollars in easy money each year.
It’s much simpler to save money through conservation than it is through conventional tactics. Coupon-clipping, comparison shopping, mail-in rebates, and credit-card cashbacks are all time-consuming. You need to be actively researching newspapers, magazines, and websites for the best deals. But with conservation, there’s no time wasted at all. Time formerly spent shopping and researching advertisements can now be spent elsewhere.
Whereas earning money requires active labor, savings are collected passively. For example, you could save $400/mo. in rent by downsizing to a smaller apartment. Over the course of 40 years, you’d save over $220,000 dollars (1). All it takes is a single, one-time effort to declutter your house and downsize. In contrast, every paycheck you receive will require active work. Earning an equivalent amount of money might require years of overtime.
The best savings usually happen through the conservation of our limited natural resources. Conservation is the simplest way to reduce our environmental impact, whether we’re measuring carbon emissions, air pollution, landfill, e-waste, deforestation, or agricultural run-off. The fewer resources we waste — land, water, wood, metal, coal, oil — the less of the environment we hurt, and the less money we spend.
- Use the compound interest calculator from Calculator.net. Here are the values I used: starting principle: $0, annual addition: $0, monthly addition: $400, interest rate: 7%, compound monthly, after 40 years, tax rate: 0%, inflation: 4%.