Here are the top 11 saving tips from the Money community, but the tips don't have to stop here. Stop by the Frugal Living message board, and give us your favorite tips.
- Use cash instead of credit
Don't carry your credit cards with you
--it will make you think before you make a purchase with cash only. --karen 12238 Spend less on water
- Have meatless days
We go meatless a couple of times a week. We started doing it during lean times, and even now that they aren't anymore, we still do it! Have spaghetti without meat, stir-fried veggies with cornbread or baked potatoes topped with broccoli and melted cheese.
- Go glamorous for less
Ask your salon if it has a training night. Hairdressers-in-training often cut your hair just as well as your regular hairdresser would (they're supervised by senior staff), but for a fraction of the usual cost.
- Take brownbag lunches
When I go grocery shopping, I buy food that I can keep at work
--soups, frozen meals, snacks, etc. I find that I can save $40 to $60 a week. --Wunder who
- Rummage for bargains
Check out garage sales. I use the Internet to check different newspapers for sales in a larger area than right where I live. We have saved thousands of dollars over the years by doing this. It's also great fun!
- Get something back from your credit cards
I suggest finding a credit card that offers some type of reward (cash back, phone discounts, etc.) and always haggle for a low APR if you plan on carrying a balance. Credit card companies are so competitive
--if you call your credit card company and tell them you've found a lower APR on another card, they'll most likely match it.
Also, I keep a jar for my change. I only collect dimes and quarters. When I use cash, I always break bills to get the change Once a week or so, I empty out my change purse and throw all the quarters and dimes into my jar. Over time it really adds up, and it's money you don't really miss.
- Create savings goals
We used to have six different accounts at our bank and now we have two: checking and savings. My Quicken program has a feature called "savings goals," which is wonderful. I just create a "goal" and then create an automatic transfer from every paycheck in the amount I want. The feature separates my savings into different goals without actually moving the money into a different account. My goals include gifts, vacations, repairs, taxes, insurance, dues, emergencies, etc.
For large-budget items like biannual insurance or yearly taxes, this is a great way to save. It also helps to save for Christmas and vacations so I don't have to use my credit card.
- Sign on for coupons and freebies
My sister-in-law and I have learned that if we really like a product we can call and ask to be put on their free sample lists and ask for coupons. Between the two of us, we've received over 75 free coupons.
- Visit consignment shops
I work for a downtown D.C. law firm, so clothes are important; we do have "business-casual" Fridays, but you can't wear jeans or leggings. It's a challenge, but I solve the problem by consignment-shopping. Consignment shops may even provide discount cards if you are a regular. In the summer, I head for the yard sales and am always amazed at the designer clothes I can find there for a couple of bucks.
- Stick around Money
The best money-saving tip I can give is to stick around here! There are always new tricks and ideas being swapped.
We bought a water cooler for $100. I know that's steep, but water is only 25 cents per gallon at the local water store. Thus, the five-gallon jug that goes on the cooler only costs $1.25! Five gallons usually lasts us about two weeks. Since most 16-ounce bottles of water are at least a dollar, the savings are pretty substantial.
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