Frugal living has become more than a way of saving a few buck between paychecks. For me, it has become something of a lifestyle. But, how do you get started, especially if you don't know where to start. If you find that there is "too much month at the end of the money", you need to do something...ANYTHING...and do it NOW.

When we need to make dollars stretch at my house, there is a list of things we do which saves us plenty of money:

1. Stop eating at restaurants, even fast food places. These can be a big drain on your pocketbook, especially if you eat out several times a week. $100 can buy a lot more food at the grocery store than it can at a restaurant.

2. No more Starbucks. Do you really need a $3.50 cup of coffee? No, I didn't think so. I can make my own coffee drinks at home, and I can get a whole can of coffee for what I would pay for one drink at Starbucks.

3. Turn off the lights. If you leave a room, turn off the light. It sounds stupid, but I'm constantly adjusting the thermostat, turning off lights, unplugging unused appliances...anything that wastes electricity. I also switched all of my light bulbs to the compact fluorescents. I have seen my electricity bill drop at least $20 per month by using these tactics.

4 Stop shopping. Chances are you probably have more than enough "stuff". In fact, you could probably stand to sell some of the junk you aren't using and those clothes you haven't worn for more than a year. Sell that stuff on eBay and stick it away in an emergency fund for your family or yourself.

5. Shop around for gasoline. It's amazing how the price of gas fluctuates from one gas station to the next. You can find the cheap gas in your area by using In my area, gas prices for a gallon of regular unleaded range from $2.76 to $2.91 per gallon. I don't recommend driving 30 miles to save a few cents a gallon on gas, but this site can help you find the cheapest gas in your neighborhood.

6. Bring lunch to work. This kind of relates to "stop eating at restaurants", but not really. Those vending machines in your company break room can gobble up your money, too. Bring your own food and drinks and save some cash.

7. Cut down on monthly expenses. Take a good look at your monthly bills. Is there any place to cut back? Do you REALLY need cable TV with 200 channels if you are having a hard time paying the utility bill? Probably not. It's time to make some tough choices. Besides, a lot of networks actually stream their shows online now. You can make due with basic cable, or if you're really frugal, put an antennae on your TV and watch the broadcast channels for free.

8. Buy generic. This goes for prescription drugs as well as groceries. With a few exceptions (for groceries), it's all the same stuff, and the generics are usually just is good, and in some cases, better than the name brand items.

9. Stop using credit cards. This includes debit cards. Nothing shows you how quickly money is being spent than paying cash for everything. It will really make you think twice before making a purchase. Pay off your credit cards and then stop using them, or cut them up if you can't resist temptation. Don't borrow against your future.

10. Start an emergency fund. Do this TODAY if you don't have an emergency fund. The rule of thumb is to save three to six months worth of expenses. If that seems like an unobtainable goal, set your sights on $500, and work up from there. That extra cash will come in handy when you do have a true emergency. Use this money ONLY for emergencies.


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