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Lately my top priority is budgeting, and I rate everything I want to do for how practical it is: Go out for drinks with a friend, or share a bottle of wine at one of our apartments? Buy a new dress or shop at the second-hand store? Splurge on the pricey French import or grab the more reasonable Vermont cheddar? At the top of my list are budget-conscious ways to going green, because I want to give back to a planet that has provided so well for me. The organic food and green cleaning products I buy usually cost a little more than their conventional counterparts, so what's a girl to do when she wants to save both the planet and her bank account? The good news is there are lots of environmentally-friendly activities and products that help you save money. When I was growing up, my parents drilled it into us to turn the lights off any time we left a room. To this day I never leave the house with any lights or appliances on and that includes my computer. And this applies whether I'm making a quick trip to the store or planning a longer visit with a friend. I find that this regimen helps me save on my electric bill. Another money-and-energy saver are CFLs (compact fluorescent lights.) They cost a bit more at the outset but use 75 percent less energy than standard bulbs and can save you 20% to 30% on your bill each month, quickly making up for their initial cost. You'll also save money and plastic by switching to tap water instead of bottled and putting it in a safe, reusable bottle. This way you've always got your water with you and won't have to make a pricey pitstop. Here's one of my newest favorite tips: Think of all the annoying mail you get for stuff you don't want. Now think about getting your address removed from the junk-mail list. Here an organization that can help you . Now go, Ahhh…that's the sound of you not wasting time in front of the mailbox and breathing better because you've just saved some trees. Going greener has actually helped me save money! Anyone have any tips they want to share? photo: John Bell