Mark and I are known for being frugal - Mark more so than me, but together we make it all work. We're fortunate that I get to be able to stay home with the kids. We've had people tell us there's no way we make it on one income, that I must come from money, and that it's just impossible. I assure you none of those are true - particularly the part about coming from money. :) It's more a matter of sacrifice and learning a few tricks of the trade.
Here are few things we do to save money.
1. Price Match! Get the Wed. paper (or whatever days paper yours comes out in) and go through the sales ads and then match them at Wal-Mart. I can't tell you how much money we save doing this.
2. Have yard sales frequently. 1.) This saves you the trouble of being overwhelmed with 1 large one and 2.) it allows you to get rid of all the junk more frequently - thus clearing up the clutter. A good idea is that when you find yard sale stuff throughout your home to price it before you put it in the garage. That way when it comes time to have a yard sale, everything is already priced. All you have to do is put it out on tables. And it also saves you from being so tired of pricing that you don't under price items just trying to get it done and out of the way.
3.) Turn down your water heater. If you have small children, this is a good idea anyway.
4.) Turn your thermostat up during the summer and down during the winter. Dress warmer or cooler to help.
5.) Cook at home! I repeat, cook at home! For around $5 I can feed all four of us, TWICE. Where can you go that you can feed 4 people, twice for under $5? Nowhere. Plan your meals in advance and buy what you need in one trip. If you do eat out, drink water. If you think about it, for the price you pay for a soda at a restaurant, you can typically buy 2 2-liters.
6.) Combine trips. Think ahead to what you might need in a week. I'm bad at this, but am trying to get better about it. For example, don't go to Wal-mart, come home, and the next day say, We need toilet paper. Inventory before you go places. It saves time, money, and gas!
7.) Use coupons! Buy the Sunday paper and cut out the coupons you use. But beware. Don't just buy something because you have a coupon. Doing this often results in spending more money. Only use coupons on things you need or normally buy.
8.) Turn lights off when you leave the room.
9.) Don't run the water while brushing your teeth.
10.) Have insulated windows put in. Not only are they more energy efficient, but you get a tax deduction for doing it.
11.) Buy off brand products. Pretty much everything (with the exception of cokes) tastes the same and are a lot cheaper. Combined with price matching you can get some really good deals.
12.) Only buy certain items when they're on sale and then stock up. Know the lowest price they usually sell at and when they get lowered to that price, buy, buy, buy. It's not uncommon for us to have 20 cans of spaghetti sauce when this happens.
13.) Sign up for certain food clubs, birthday clubs, etc. (ie. Capt'n D's, Baskin Robbins, etc.) that will send out free coupons for food, ice cream, etc.
14.) Say No. If you don't need it, don't buy it. This is a hard one, but we rarely ever need 1/2 the things we think we need. They're usually wants. Sacrifice and in the long run, it'll pay off.
15.) Stay in shape. The better in health you are, the less doctor's visits, medications, and gas to get there and back.
16.) Don't use your oven to cook just 1 thing. If you turn it on, cook multiple items. For instance, a casserole, rolls, and/or a dessert. Or use a toaster oven. They use significantly less electricity and won't heat your house up. Likewise, during the winter, after cooking in the oven, leave it open to heat the house.
17.) Get rid of vehicles that have high monthly payments. Drive something cheaper, yet reliable. And if you have a fuel guzzler, get something more gas efficient.
18.) Look for entertainment bargains like Netflix and Blockbuster online. They'll typically offer you a free 2 week or 1 month trial. Then cancel. A few weeks or months later, they'll do it again trying to get you to join their membership. We've gotten several months of movies for free by merely playing their game. Also, look for coupons in your local paper. Ours often has a Hastings coupon for 2 movies and 2 drinks for $5.99.
19.) Find free stuff to do. Go to the park. Find out about local events (Kidz Fun Fest, Parent Palooza). Your local nature center or parks typically have free events like Creature Feature or arts and crafts. The local library has reading times for kids.
20.) Think smart. This is most important. To get ahead you have to think ahead. With a little thinking and some sacrifice, it's all doable.