Define goals. Having a goal is useful. It will provide the necessary motivation to stick to the budget. To maintain dedication to that goal, post it somewhere easy to see.
Make a budget. Take an honest look at the household finances. After unchanging costs like rent, budget for other necessities such as groceries. Don't forget to budget a little for fun as well.
Learn from others. Chances are, those with more life experience have been through tough times at one point or another. Ask them for advice on saving money. Friends are also good resources.
Cook at home. Fast food may look cheap, but smart cooking is often cheaper. These days one can learn to cook for free from library books or internet sites. The food budget can be shrunk by using inexpensive ingredients, not wasting leftovers, and freezing large batches of food.
Is the car worth it? Where buses, trains, and bike lanes are available, reconsider the car. Not all people will have this option, as some places lack public transportation. Those who do have the option should work out the real cost of gas, insurance, tolls, and parking fees, and decide if the car is the best choice.
Look for bargains. Scan the paper and websites for coupons for necessary items. If it isn't necessary, no price is cheap enough to make it a bargain. Store sales are one good place to search, as are outlets and discount stores. Keep in mind that discount stores may not always be cheaper, and research prices beforehand to make sure it really is a good deal.
Buy when it's cheap. If it keeps, buy it when its cheap. When possible, buy a month's or even a year's supply during case-lot sales or other good deals.
Eco can also mean economical. Being careful with energy and water isn't just good for the earth. Using less electricity will lower the electricity bill. If there's a deposit on cans, they don't belong in the landfill. Take them in for recycling and get the deposits back.
Stay on the hunt for bargains. In amongst all the junk at yard and garage sales, flea markets, and thrift stores are hidden treasures. When shopping for these, take a list of necessities. Stick to it, because bringing home unnecessary things is a waste of money and space at home.
Fun doesn't have to be expensive. What entertainment options are most important? For those taking the time to use cost-cutting measures, there might not be much left for sitting and watching TV. Subscriptions for cable and satellite service can take a big chunk out of the fun money. Don't forget that public libraries offer good selections of reading, and in many cases movies and music as well. Remember that taking a lovely evening walk with dear ones doesn't cost a thing.
To save money takes determination and effort. It requires planning and patience. However, with some smart strategies, it doesn't have to mean sacrificing everything important or enjoyable.