Downsizing, minimalism and zero waste have dramatically affected our household budget. We handle, process and tidy less which means we have more time. There’s less shopping because we need and maintain less. We’re better at using what we have more creatively without sacrificing outcome. In fact, it would have been impossible for our family to live in downtown in San Francisco had we not adopted a minimal waste lifestyle and dramatically minimized our household. Please have a look at our zero waste budget and see out how you too can save thousands yearly.

The following represents the significant change in spending after adopting a zero waste budget. The chart shares how much money we no longer spend because of our zero waste or minimalist efforts and adaptations. Detailed monthly expenses are recorded using Mint. Sadly, I’m certain that I’ve missed some items.

Yearly Spending Changes | After Adopting a Zero Waste Budget

Savings with Zero Waste - Zero Waste budget

Yearly Spending Changes | Before Adopting a Zero Waste Budget

The above table shows that on the expensive side we were spending $32,003 per year on things we could either live without or replace with better, cheaper or free solution. Conservatively, we were spending an extra $24,363 per year. Granted, not everyone can live without any cars. It took a few years for us to transition to one car and then to zero cars. I share more about how we were able to go car-free here and I share the following two years of transportation costs here.

Let’s assume we needed or chose to have two cars at $15,600 per year. If cars remained an expense there would still be $8,563 – 16,203 that didn’t need to spend. We spent $856-1,620 on disposable packaging alone when factoring in a 10% convenience up-charge to not bring containers. In many cases the extra money spent went toward having less effective solutions. Ouch, it’s hard for me to look at these numbers, but at least we stopped and course corrected before wasting even more money.

Purchases we made to Halt or Reduce Spending

One time purchases

32    Dryer rack for use instead of dryer and our clothes last so much longer and don’t shrink!!
24    Lunette Cup replaces tampons and lasts for years
79    Soda Stream Sparkling Water Maker
80    Ice Cream maker for homemade ice cream
120  Electric Shaver
78    Reusable cups, bowls, plates, and cutlery 
Thrifted items could even cost less

The Solutions – Yearly Average Expenses

200 Years worth of CO2 refills for Soda Stream. Anther benefit is that we drink way more water now.
10   Razor Blades $20 less yearly using Harry’s over Mach. Cheaper more zero waste solutions are available.
10   Glue or Paper Tape Arts and Crafts require certain tools. Make the best choices possible.
~20 Household Cleaners Reduced to vinegar, Borax, and baking soda. Viola!
~30 Bulk Dishwasher Detergent
~10 Facial Cleansers Replaced with Charcoal soap, Bentonite Clay and Apple Cider Vinegar
~70 Various oils, Beeswax, Shea Butter & Aloe to make moisturizers, lipgloss & facial Oils.

It pretty clear how twenty dollar here and there can really add up. Usually, when our homemade products like sauerkraut, pickles, or Lara bars, were far superior to commercially produced products. In the case of facial products, our homemade versions are so much better than anything I’ve ever purchased. Dishwashing soap was my one failure as a maker.

Please let me know if you have any questions about a the zero waste budget in the comments section below.

xo – Bar

Text version of above spreadsheet image.

$24,363 – $32,003 Spent Less Every Year after adopting Zero Waste and Minimalism
6k   Car 2 – Fuel, maintenance, insurance, registration, parking, depreciation.
10.8K Car 1 – Fuel, maintenance, insurance, registration, parking, depreciation.
4.8-10.8k Food – Buy from bulk bins, farmers markets. Spend 40% less monthly
450 Chips – Stopped eating them except corn chips from bulk
300 Ice Cream – Make our own much of the time
19   Dryer Sheets – We line dry. If you don’t dry clothes bone dry, there is no static.
180 Clothes Dryer Operation – Electric cost is roughly $1.25 per load, owning or renting
72   Tampons – purchased a silicone cup and fabric pads
36   Lip gloss – Homemade
144  Sparkling Water – The Soda Stream cut our Sparkling Water costs in half
50   DVD’s – Stopped buying, committed to virtual
60  Dishwasher detergent – Buy unpackaged for less
30    Blades for Razors – Use an electric razor plus switched to Harry’s Razor
40    Tape – Scotch tape, duck tape. We now use glue or paper tape
120  Crackers – Make our own or buy unpackaged
50    Paper or plastic cups, silverware and plates
200  Household Cleaners – Bleach, Blueing, window cleaner, all-purpose cleaner, granite cleaner, furniture oil
60    Toothpaste – 1/4 family members will use the homemade paste
300   Books – Library, borrow or virtual
62    Facial Oil – homemade
40    Face Cleanser – homemade or charcoal soap
100  Face Moisturizer – homemade
200  Vitamins – Downsized what we used
15   Laundry Detergent
20   Dishsoap
75  Batteries
120 Paper Towels
25   Brita Filters – Switched to Charcoal sticks

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