If you don't already have a budget, it's time to set a realistic one for your household - and stick to it. If you need help setting up that budget, several budget planners can be found at Better Budgeting and, of course Flylady (choose the FACE Control Journal).
If you already have a budget, chances are there are some things that can be cut in order to save a little money. Here are a few ideas for tightening up those bottom lines:
1. Never go out to eat without a coupon.
2. Try shopping at grocery outlets or discount grocers for canned and dry goods.
3. Check out your local dollar store for cleaning supplies and items like paper plates, even gift wrap and greeting cards!
4. Ditch Upgraded Cable Television. Check out sites like Hulu for full versions of your favorite shows for free! (If you can hook your computer up to your tv - like you do with netflix - you'll be basically "on demand" for just about anything!).
5. Only go grocery shopping once every other week for non-perishables. Make only one other weekly trip for perishables - if you run out of milk or apples two days before the next weekly trip no one will starve to death, you'll get by (and you'll save a LOT of $$ by not making any impulse purchases!)
6. Always buy food based upon the "unit price" (it's on the shelf tag.. it's small, but there). Always buy the size with the smallest unit price.
7. Remove any extra phone services you don't need or use. Sure, unlimited long distance is great - but if you only use it once a month - save the $$!
8. If you must keep the higher end cable television, consider bundling it with your phone and Internet for big savings.
9. Clip those coupons! Better yet, check out sites like The Grocery Game to help you make those coupons save serious dollars.
10. If you're going out to eat (with a coupon, I hope) - go for lunch instead of dinner. The menu is usually quite similar and the prices are much cheaper.
11. Don't let leftovers go to waste!
12. Stop buying sodas and bottled water! Buy a good water bottle and refill it. Drink juices and water instead of sodas.
13. Buy foods in the least processed form possible. Fresh foods that you cook yourself will usually cost you less than the already made versions.
14. Eat less meat.
15. Only wash full loads of clothes and dishes.
16. Pay your kids to drink water at a restaurant (no kidding, I read this!) Offer each child $1 in cash on the way home if they order water as their beverage instead of sodas.
17. Never buy anything online without checking for a coupon code first. My favorite site for this is Current Codes - they offer discount codes for hundreds of online stores.
18. Buy some "forever stamps" now before the price of postage goes up again!
19. Drop your health club membership and walk or run with a friend... or your pooch. Check out some workout videos from the library.
20. Don't pay money to rent movies! Your local library has them for free!!
21. Buy less expensive cuts of meat and slow cook them to make them tender and yummy.
22. Check out consignment stores for kids clothes. Kids rarely wear their clothes out before they outgrow them and you'll find awesome clothes for a fraction of the price.
23. Mix your cereal - buy a box of your kid's favorite pricey cereal and a bag of the much cheaper version... mix the two together - your kids will never know!
24. Don't buy anything except groceries at the grocery store! Everything else is marked up tremendously - go to your local mass merchandise store for those things.
25. Never buy pre-cut fruit at the grocery store. Buy it whole and cut it yourself!
26. Switch from paper to cloth napkins.
27. Check google to see if your favorite magazine is available for free online. Just Google the name of your magazine followed by "magazine" at Google Books and it will show results for that magazine.
28. Buy egg in bulk and freeze them! Yes, you can, indeed freeze eggs - just break each one into an ice cube tray and freeze, then pop them into ziptop bags! (read all about freezing eggs here).
29. Buy your prescriptions at Costco - there is no membership required for prescription purchases - just tell them at the door you're there for a prescriptions (you'll save lots of $$).
30. Begin a "gift closet" - each time you go shopping and find something at a steal, pick it up and put it in the gift closet for future gifting. I regularly check out the 75%-90% off sales after each holiday and almost always find little toys (stocking stuffers etc) that are not themed and can be used as a gift any time of the year.
By trying even just a few of these tips, you'll have extra money in your wallet to save for a rainy day - which could be any day now!