Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and How it Helped with My Personal Finance

by David Ning · 15 comments

I still remember the time when my school teacher taught me about the 3Rs (reduce, reuse, and recycle).  All the benefits that they spoke about honestly didn’t mean much to me at the time (I was more concerned about playing soccer at recess), but it was important for kids like me to at least start learning the habits that saves our environment and eventually our pocket books.

As I think back, developing the discipline of separating the newspapers, soda cans from the other garbage had a profound effect on me.  In a weird way, it helped me become more organized and developed discipline because I was extending this idea of separation to other areas.  Once I was used to doing it, I started putting similar types of clothes in the same area in my closet.  It just seemed like a fun idea at the time but now that I think about it, it helped me save so much time too.

Another fun event for me was newspaper hunting.  Since we had all the newspapers separated into its own box, we could easily find and reuse them for our own purposes.  When I was young, we routinely pan-fried chicken wings (what am I talking about, we still do this and I’m not so young anymore).  We would put newspapers all around the stove area so the oil would splash onto the newspaper and not the counters.  It was fun because I could find advertisements that I hated and position it for the chance that oil would splash onto it (stupid, I know).  While this was fun, it also helped me become more creative.  Nowadays, I would routinely think of all sorts of ways to reuse different things that we own.

Whoever thought of the idea of recycling is a genius.  Not only can we help others by recycling what we have, we can also earn money.  A couple months ago, I recycled my ancient laptop through Costco’s Trade-in and Recycle Program.  I didn’t get much money for it but the excercise was certainly better than having an unused laptop sitting at home.  Of course, I could also sell it on Craigslist or eBay if the laptop was any newer, but it is always nice to try something new to see how the whole process works.

So why is the title Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and How it Helped with My Personal Finance?  The 3Rs helped me:

  • Be More Organized with My Finances
  • Have Discipline in Saving for Retirement
  • Be More Creative in Money Saving Ideas
  • Earn More Money

Has the 3Rs helped you? In what ways? Join me in sharing it with everyone.

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Trevor November 11, 2008 at 10:11 am

Great tips on how being creative with recycling can bring you many benefits.

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Richard November 11, 2008 at 10:14 am

Wow I think I had the same set of classes back in the days. The 3Rs.

I totally agree that whoever started all the Rs was a genius.

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MoneyNing November 11, 2008 at 11:40 am

Trevor: Thanks :) Glad you like it.

Richard: Where did you go to school? I was in Toronto, Canada when they taught me about the 3Rs.

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Kim A. November 11, 2008 at 11:48 am

We, too, choose the 3 R’s as a lifestyle out of need and respect for our world. This morning I went through all our old socks and rolled the worn or holey ones up and stuffed them into a reallllly long and strethed out knee-high athletic sock. The result is a draft-door stopper that might be funny looking but is functional and recycled. Only people like us can appreciate the creativity :-)

Good blog.

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Dorothy November 11, 2008 at 6:35 pm

Thanks, Kim for the socks idea. I definitely need a door-draft stopper at my front door over the winter. I confess the only things I’ve been recycling are soda pop bottles, which I collect in the garage all year and give to the Boy Scouts on their annual bottle collection drive. I think I have four big bags for them.

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Andrea November 12, 2008 at 8:29 am

So … last night we took a big pallet that someone had put out with their trash for pickup today. We’re going to make a compost box with it. :)

Being frugal almost by default means that you are being more environmentally friendly, but not really from the recycling side as much as the “reduce” and “reuse” side.

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marci November 12, 2008 at 8:33 am

I believe it was old fashioned “neccessity” that dreamed up recycling :) You know……”make it do or do without.” Way before our times.
Recycling and reusing keeps me living comfortably on under $20,000/yr :) And keeps my brain engaged in creative and imaginative ways. (mental exercise is good for us older folks)

My 3 R’s were the old ones – Readin, ritin, and ‘rithmetic… so I didn’t get the new 3 R’s til my kids were going to school,and now the grands. Mostly my creativity with discarded items helps me not spend much money – such as buying used fluffy plush bathrobes at a rummage $1/bag sale and reusing the fabric. I have less than 10cents each in each of the Christmas jammies and matching teddy bears that I am making for the grandkids Christmas. Can you imagine 8 grandkids for under $1 :) I also have a set of 3 ‘decorator’ pillows for the couch out of a fancy ladies dress and free box pillows that I recovered – again $1 for the 3 pillows.

I’m kidded about my favorite shopping mall being the local dump/transfer station (a subsidiary of my employer) – the metal shed has provided the containers for my potted plants, the wood debris pile has provided all the landscaping timbers for the garden, and about 75% of my firewood – all free. My latest acquisition was 4 patio chairs.

My house remodeling is full of recycled ‘free’ items :) Paying good money for something takes all the fun out of having it – I get a kick out of free or little money items put to new uses.

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David November 12, 2008 at 2:20 pm

I found this to be very useful information. I really enjoyed reading this due to it’s truthful content and expertise. I am looking forward to hearing more about this. Great job.

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Andy @ Retire at 40 November 13, 2008 at 12:57 am

The good thing about the three R’s is that it firstly makes you think as to whether you actually need to buy that thing.

It also helps you consider where that thing will eventually go. For example, I have now bought a few of those re-usable cleaning cloths for those little spills in the kitchen and around the house. I use these instead of buying kitchen paper. They were about twice the price of a two-pack and will last more than a hundred times longer.

Add to this the fact that they’re also much better for the environment and it’s pretty easy to be green and save money at the same time.

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Steve C @ MyWifeQuitHerJob.com November 13, 2008 at 8:45 am

I used to gather empty soda cans and empty bottles and take them to the local recycling plant. Sometimes I would get upwards of 50+ dollars for a single trip. I’m not sure what happened though because I haven’t done this for ages. Maybe I’ll start again. Thanks for the reminder.

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marci November 13, 2008 at 12:24 pm

Can refunds in Oregon are limited to 144 per person perday…$7.20. Kinda takes the fun out of if you have to make several trips.

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Jordan Clark November 14, 2008 at 1:36 am

I turned my old laptop into a 15″ digital picture frame with wifi. Custom ordered deep wooden frame for it online for about $50, mounted the screen onto the backing, loaded the hard drive with a minimal install of windows and a hard drive full of pictures. It looks awesome and was a really fun project.

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Mary@SimplyForties November 15, 2008 at 3:42 pm

Great parallel between the organization of recycling and the organization of personal finance.

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Copyandcredit September 6, 2009 at 6:49 pm

I just wrote a blog posting about this. I was heavy into recycling for a while and was making around $125-$200 extra a month based off of TV/Film production bins, for under a few hours work. It’s worth it if you can find a lot and a location that wastes/recycles en masse

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Jill October 19, 2012 at 3:40 pm

I found once I started to think about the best ways to dispose of things at the time of purchase, (consign, goodwill donation, eBay, trash) I cut down on my purchases, because I know I am buying an extra errand or task for the disposal of the new item, down the road. Thinking through the life cycle of a product helps me leave more on the store shelves and save money.

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