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Bankrate's 2007 Living Green, Saving Green Guide
Green today
Learn 153 ways to be eco-friendly while saving green.
Green today
153 ways to go green
Money: Long haul
Tips » Long haul $ factor
Tip 147:
Budget electronically to control your spending.
Financial experts say the best way to get a handle on your spending, or overspending, is to write it all down.
$ Factor:
Putting the information into a computer program -- there are lots of packaged budget software out there -- makes it easier for you to sort, compare and mend your money mistakes. Plus, most financial institutions allow you to download your statements' data into popular software. That's a lot easier, saves you time and is more environmentally friendly than sorting through stacks and stacks of budgeting paper.
Tip 148:
Pay your taxes electronically.
Most of us are using software to figure what we owe the IRS anyway. So go ahead and e-file that 1040 and be done with it.
$ Factor:
Have you seen the size of tax-filing packages the IRS sends out each year? Stop the slaughter of innocent trees and do your taxes via computer. Plus, no more gas-guzzling trips to the post office April 15.

Most filers might be able to get their tax job done for free. The IRS says that 70 percent of taxpayers this last filing season were eligible to use Free File. This public-private partnership makes tax preparation software available to eligible taxpayers at a special IRS Web page. In addition, the participating companies also allow you e-file your return at no cost.
Tip 149:
Enroll in your utility company's energy saving program.
Most have them, allowing the utility to cycle off or cycle down your energy-draining appliances during high usage periods.
$ Factor:
Your energy-saving effort will not only help your local utility from facing brownouts when there's too much demand, it will use less of the resources needed to produce electricity. Your bottom line will be rewarded, too. Utilities typically give energy-plan customers a credit on each monthly bill in exchange for participating.
Tip 150:
Give appreciated assets to your favorite environmental nonprofit.
In addition to taking cash, many groups also accept gifts of stock and other assets.
$ Factor:
This is yet another way to help an environmental group fulfill its mission. It also could help your tax balance sheet. By giving the appreciated stock directly to the qualified organization, you can claim a deduction for the full asset price at the time you donated it and escape the capital gains bill you would have faced if you had simply sold it and given the money to the group.
Tip 151:
Buy a hybrid vehicle.
The advantages of these combination gas/electric autos have become well-known since pump prices have stabilized around $3 for the last couple of years.
$ Factor:
While the vehicles cost a bit more upfront, in many cases the fuel savings can help offset that initial outlay. Uncle Sam also can help. Most hybrid vehicles are eligible for a tax credit, thousands of dollars in some cases, that you can claim on your tax return.
Tip 152:
Invest in 'green' funds.
Ramp up that good eco-investing feeling by choosing stocks or mutual funds that that buy environmentally friendly assets. This type of investing goes beyond the usual eco-suspects, such as organic farms or environmental services firms. Green investing also means buying into mainstream companies that encourage sound environmental policies, such as energy efficiency, renewable energy and green building.
$ Factor:
Once thought to be alternative investments, now almost every major fund company offers at least one "green" option to its clients. Because of this added attention, these investments now show competitive returns. So you potentially make money while simultaneously helping make the world a cleaner place.
Tip 153:
Improve your home's energy efficiency.
You don't have to go crazy; simple things such as fans, insulated windows and doors, wall or attic insulation, and even window film can cut your residential energy costs.
$ Factor:
In addition to making your home more comfortable year-round and lowering your heating and cooling bills, many common home improvements are eligible for a tax credit on your federal return. Some states also offer similar tax credits. The one-time tax savings range from $50 to $2,000. The lifetime savings could be many times that.

One warning: Taxes change from year to year, so be sure to check a current tax guide to find out which breaks you'll be eligible for.
-- Posted: Oct. 4, 2007

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