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Recycling Can Save You Money

All right, I’m not talking about walking and picking up cans here. There’s too much competition in that anyway… What I am talking about is saving money by recycling electronic items that have reached the end of their usefulness. Recycling to save money is worthwhile to look into, especially if you’re paying off debt. For example…

Many municipalities charge the residents for pickup and disposal of electronics such as TV’s, computers and monitors, and printers. In my city, there is a hassle to get rid of these things. You need to go to the city engineering department, pay $20 for a sticker, and put the item out on trash day. $20 to throw out a monitor or TV? No wonder I see so many thrown by the side of the road. I’m not sure this policy is working, but anyway…

Save money with our credit counseling tips.

Save money with our credit counseling tips.

There are alternatives. Before you jump at the chance to spend an additional $20 on an item that is no longer useful, determine if it is actually useless, or perhaps if it can be used by someone else. Or repaired?

Is there a local shop that will take the item as a trade in? There aren’t many things that are not worth something to somebody. Laptops, printers, old cellphones, some computers…. these are things that really mess up a landfill, and can be reused, repaired, or recycled.

Consider donating it to a charity or cause, like some folks  do with old cars. Get a receipt for your donation for the “fair market value” of the item, and maybe take it off your taxes. At the very least, you don’t have to pay to dispose of it.

Old computers are not necessarily useless, and many can be refurbished by a competent repair shop. Do some online searching locally for this option.

If the item is truly “fried”, you are still not out of luck. Take a few minutes and check out some of the “big box” stores. Many retailers have a recycling program and will take your items for free, or  give you a rebate for the price of recycling.

For example, I learned that Best Buy would take an old printer for only $10. A savings of $10 . Yay! Not just a $10 savings,  they would also give me a $10 gift card, essentially making the transaction free – saving $20! Any way to save money is great if you’re working on debt management.

But it could have been even better! I learned later that over at Staples, they would take an old printer in trade, and give you a $50 discount on the purchase of a new printer priced at $199 or more. Had I been in the market for a new printer that’s a great deal! $50 discount instead of a $20 cost…  A total no-brainer.

When you inquire about recycling at these stores, or others that may offer the same kind of deal, ask them if there are any sales coming up so you can leverage your value.

Several years ago, I had collected a few monitors and keyboards, waiting for a cheaper option than paying $20 to throw out each piece. My timing was perfect. On the day before moving, I loaded up my Jeep with 3 monitors, 2 keyboards and a small TV. Rather than paying the city $120 (6 “hazardous” pieces) I headed to Staples, thinking I could save $60 since they would recycle for only $10 each. Lucky for me, they were having a sale that day, and anyone bringing in an item, and buying any electronic item over $99 would receive $10 per item. I wasn’t in the market to buy anything that day, and asked the clerk what they could do for me.  He answered that they would accept the items for free. Free.  Had I not considered the options, I would be out $120. If I was in buying mode I could have saved $30 (up to 3 $10 discounts were allowed.)

Many places will also recycle printer cartridges. Saving $2 on a new cartridge by recycling an item that you would throw away  just makes sense. You are probably going back to the store for another cartridge anyway.

It’s the age of information. Do a little searching and you can save a bundle. What ever it is you are getting rid of, do a little searching before you pay to throw  it out.

Take a look at your nearest Craigslist section, under the “Items Wanted” section. There just might be an enterprising entrepreneur who profitably recycles the item you are throwing out.  At the very least, they may pick it up for free.

Fire up a search engine using the item name and either the words “donate”, “sell old” or “recycle”. You will be amazed what you will find, and how much you can save.

Just as I was finishing up this post I received an email from NationalGrid, my energy provider. They are offering free pickup and recycling of your old refrigerator – AND a $50 rebate when you buy an Energy Star qualified model. They claim that recycling just one refrigerator is equal to taking two cars off the road for an entire year!

There are a few other offers in the email, but rather than listing them all here, I suggest that you check with your energy provider and see if they have any recycling options that can save you money. Or better yet, do they have any offers that can earn you rebates on other products that you  need. After all, saving money on energy going forward is a good idea, and cutting costs of disposing of old appliances is a good thing right now!

Don’t throw away your money along with that no longer needed item!

If you’re struggling to pay off debt, ACCC can help. Schedule a free credit counseling session with us today. 


Andi is a Marketing Assistant at ACCC. He is passionate about supporting financial literacy efforts and helping to educate people on the Talking Cents blog!

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