by Patrick Atkinson

I love to save money. I’ll never buy clothes that aren’t on sale, and unless I decide to become a Prepper, which is highly unlikely, and prepare for apocalyptic war, I won’t ever buy canned fruit.

So why is it that every time I try to be good to Mother Earth, it feels like I’ve gone on vacation to Vegas; I start off giddy and filled with excitement, only to feel a few days later broke, disorientated, and wondering what happened to the Big Dream?

Still, since on any given day 13,700 extremely poor people walk through a GOD’S CHILD Project door somewhere in the world and 13,698 of them are hungry, I have to do whatever I can to feed them. This means stretching our Dollars (and Quetzals, Kwachas, Rupees, and Centavos) as far as possible. Hence the Sacred “R’s” – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – the Holy Trio of Living Cheaply.

Actually, it is easy to be green. With a little practice, everyone can do it, especially if you make a game out of it; a self-challenge much like doing a crossword puzzle. You might just be surprised how much folding green you’ll also save.

The leading philosophy about dieting is that it doesn’t matter so much what you eat as it does how much you eat. My girlfriend puts me on diets all the time, in fact, every time she feels like she’s gained a pound or two. Then it’s time we diet. Her mantra is that we need to stop eating when we feel 70% full; for me, this is when I first think, “My, that was a great meal.” At that point, says the GF, everything else gets wrapped up and put away for tomorrow’s lunch.

The same principal holds true in daily living; save $ by reducing, stopping when you’ve had enough, or not taking what you don’t need:

*Use cloth napkins. Not only are they more durable than paper ones, they will reduce your trash output and save you a lot of money. And since you have to wash clothes anyway, you’re not really increasing your laundry load.

*Use a pressure cooker, and cook with residual heat. Pressure cookers take 70% less time (and less energy) to prepare a meal, and can be used for anything from soups, meats, breads, and even desserts. Also, by turning off the oven or stovetop 5 minutes early, the food continues to cook with residual heat while saving energy.

*Forty (40%) of all food in America gets thrown away. Ouch! This not only hurts our homeless and hungry right here in America, but plugs up chemically-controlled landfills where food is not allowed to decompose. Be realistic in how much food people will really eat, and save or freeze the leftovers for snacks or to add to later meals. Ask me sometime and I’ll tell you how I fed an entire generation of the Project’s children on Big Mac Soup.
*Water. The H2O that comes out of most faucets is much purer and better than the factory-produced stuff that comes in sparkly plastic bottles with pictures of mountains. When the day is done, wash your reusable water bottle with your other dirty dishes and tomorrow start new and fresh… and you can add lemon or cucumber to it. Or Tobasco® sauce. Everything tastes better with Tobasco. Okay, maybe not water; stick with lemon and cucumber.

Way back when, people bought beverages in glass bottles which they threw away. Nowadays there’s money to be made in searching for and reselling glass bottles and aluminum cans. Likewise:

*Spring is in the air and those egg cartons make perfect seed starters. Everyone loves this project, and children particularly love when their seedlings are transplanted into newly turned gardens.
*Coffee Grounds (after you’ve made your coffee, or course) make a great exfoliator and hand scrub. Mix it with a little hand soap and, voila! You’re going to look great and save a fortune in the process. Pure used coffee grounds make great garden fertilizer, too.

*Gift wrap, gift tissue, and even old maps can be used to rewrap casual gifts. I was recently at a boutique Gift Shoppe where wrapping paper printed to look like newspaper funny pages was being sold for $17 a roll. Seriously? Shopping and grocery bags can be used dozens of times before they wear out.

Eventually I learned that a great way to save $$ by not buying more stuff than we need is to repurpose, or recycle, the stuff that we already have. It’s not hard…

Wonderful web-sites like and give great instructions on how to fix everyday things that get broken around the house. At the same time, and have saved me from the most awkward of stained clothing situations, at home and when I’m on the road.

When something comes to its eventual end, remember the old adage that “One person’s junk is another person’s treasure.” What we can’t use, we trade. What we can’t trade, we sell outright or attach to someone else’s garage sale.

There are thousands of web-sites dedicated to helping us to Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. These present countless fascinating ways to save hundreds or thousands of dollars each year, with very little effort.

And, what do you know? While saving our hard earned $$, we’re also being good to the planet our children will inherit from us one day.

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About the author: Bismarck-native Patrick Atkinson is the founder and CEO of The GOD’S CHILD Project (, a Bismarck-founded international charity that operates schools, clinics, malnourished infant centers, and anti-human trafficking efforts in the United States, Central America, India and Africa.