Reduce Monthly Bills – Trash Edition

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**Update – 5/28/2009** I took out my trash for the first time in a month & a half so our garbage bill has been lowered from $15/month to $1/month.  Not to bad!

**Update – 4/22/2009** This article was also featured on the Carnival of Pecuniary Delights #4 – Living Green Edition!

**Update – 4/21/2009**  This article is featured in the Festival of Frugality #174 – In Pain but Still Living Frugal Edition!

Today I will teach you how I lowered my monthly trash bill and give you several ideas to help you lower yours.

There are a few things you need to do to start saving on your monthly rubbish removal expenses.  Here is the story of how my wife & I lowered ours.

Our Situation…

Prior to about six months ago my wife & I were producing around two to three 13 gallon kitchen bags of trash per week on average, which I assume is an average amount for a home occupied by two adults.  To rid ourselves of our rubbish we did what any other D.I.N.K. professionals do, we called our local trash removal company and had them send over a “Cap’n Curby” trash receptacle which we faithfully filled each week & left out by the road for our trash guys to come pick up.  This service set us back $46 every 3 months and although this is not a ton of money, we defer to the same point of view we hold with any other expense…every dollar counts!  If you continually say, “It’s no big deal, it’s just a few dollars.” your finances will never amount to anything.

Our Solution…

For about the last half year we have been participating in our local community recycling program.  This practice was really the catalyst for the next step we took to reduce our trash removal costs.  While recycling we found we were only producing about a half a bag of trash each week!  (13 gallon kitchen bag size).  When you are producing so little trash it does not take long before you to start to question whether you need trash removal at all.  When I broke it down I realized I was paying about $4/week to have a 1/2 bag (13 gallon size) of trash hauled away, & trust me…that’s not a good deal.  I went through a few ideas in my head including splitting trash removal costs with a neighbor or family member, but didn’t want to mix bills & money with other families so I looked elsewhere.  I seemed to remember my trash removal company having a lesser removal program, so I gave them a call.  Turns out they did have a lower cost program where they give out tags that cost $1.55 and are good for the removal of one bag of trash.  At this cost even if I used two tags (two 32 gallon bags full) I would still be saving money!  I jumped at the offer.  After doing the math this will end up saving my wife & I over $130/year on trash removal!  We were spending $184 and now look to spend $48/year tops!

Solutions for you…

  • Start recycling – you should be able to cut the amount of trash you need removed by at least half.
  • Reduce disposable waste – reducing your paper waste & other disposable wastes will cut down on the amount of trash you produce.  You can do this by using handkerchief’s, cloth napkins, & cloth rags (read this post on how to reduce paper use.)  You may also want to read up on how the Razor & Blade Business Model seeks to addict us to disposable products & ensure we keep coming back to buy more!
  • Burn your trash – if you live in the country you can most likely burn your trash in a burn barrel in your back yard.  Be sure to check with your local fire department to see what they allow.  You may have to get a burn permit (usually free) for each time you burn.  The permit just lets the fire department know you are burning so they are informed.
  • Lower your trash removal plan – call your trash removal company to see if they have a “tag per bag” plan or something similar.  If they do, keep a large trash can (32 gallon bag size) just outside your home/garage (to not stink up the place) and fill it with your kitchen & bathroom trash.  Do not put the trash out by the road until you fill the 32 gallon bag up.  This will take my wife & I between about 4 weeks to fill, which reduces our monthly trash cost to $1.55/month (down from $16)!
  • Combine trash with family, friends, or neighbors – have some neighbors you are close with?  Why not split a trash removal plan with them and just combine your trash together each week.  You could also do this with a family member or friend who live close by.  If you approach someone with this idea, I advise you to give them enough cash for the year up front so their is no need for awkward “monthly payments” to them.
  • Compost & garbage disposal – have a garden?  compost your organic kitchen waste and use it as a soil fertilizer in your garden.  You can also reduce trash amounts by using your garbage disposal.

Using all or any combination of the above techniques will help you reduce your monthly expenses!

How did this post help you?  Leave us a comment!



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1 DB Cooper

Everywhere I’ve lived trash collection has been a part of the local tax bill. Non-negotiable. Regardless of whether we put out one small bag per week, or 14 bags, a refrigerator, an old couch, and a roll of carpet – or nothing at all – our trash bill on our tax statement is still the same.

2 DebtFREEk!

Thanks for your comment DB Cooper. I suppose you may want to check out other ways to reduce your monthly expenses then.

3 ScrapHaul

Hi Matt — great article. Your tip about combining trash with a neighbor is something that a lot of us definitely approve of. My company generally recommends partnering up with a neighbor especially when the time for spring cleaning occurs. Great stuff!

4 Dawn

When the county I live in started charging for weekly trash pickup, it only cost about $8 a month, no matter how much trash you had. $2 a week wasn’t bad at all. It is only my husband and I, but we still have quite a bit of trash. I do some recycling, but not as much as I should. We paid our bill every month, but unfortunately, there were a lot of people who didn’t and so the county passed about a 1 cent tax increase to pay for trash pickup. As far as I’m concerned, it works. It really ticked me off that people were getting the service for free, but now everyone pays if they buy anything in this county. I’m not sure how long this has been in effect, but it is getting close to 15-20 yrs. We don’t mind paying a little extra on tax for something like this.

5 Hannah A. Casey

I’ve got problems seeing your page correctlly through the latest version of Opera. It looks ok in IE and Firefox though.

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