"A penny saved is a penny earned."
If it's not food, clothing, or shelter, it's discretionary money. And food, clothing, and shelter can be modest. Some of these may seem extreme to you (starting with the first one!) Nevertheless, they will save you money.
1. Be a one-car family.
2. Get rid of your cell phone. Don't just lower your plan--get rid of your phone altogether. Don't buy phones for your children.
3. For your home phone, cut call waiting, long distance, caller id. These are not needs.
4. Get rid of your cable/satellite tv. This will also save you electricity and give you 15 or more hours a week to get more done!
If you really miss tv, try watching shows for free on Hulu. The added bonuses: you can watch them when you want to, and there are only about 2 minutes of commercials.
5. Stop eating out. Make wonderful meals at home instead. Take lunch to work with you.
6. Cook from scratch.
7. Drink water.
9. Buy used clothing. Use hand-me downs. Make clothes over. Participate in/host clothing swaps.
10. Mend your clothes.
11. Stop shopping. Only go to the store when absolutely necessary. Try to limit your shopping to once every two weeks, or once a month. Buy enough so that you don't have to go more than that. Don't ever run to the store for just one thing. You'll save money on gas, and you won't buy anything extra.
12. Buy generic--get the store brand. You might even find that you like it better!
13. Use coupons. Sometimes the name brand can be cheaper this way.
15. Turn your thermostat to 79º in the summer, and to 65º (or less) in the winter. Where I live, the heat doesn't come on at 65º except at night (in the winter).
17. Learn how to do your own repairs. If you're not sure how, do an internet search for them. There are a lot of tutorials online!
18. Find a new home for your pets, unless they are a food source (chickens, goats, pigs, cows).
19. Cut hair at home. For the price of some clippers and some good scissors, you will have paid for your clippers in two or three haircuts. I have my husband cut my hair, I cut his, and we both cut the children's hair.
20. Turn off your computer at night (this saved me $50 a month), and ceiling fans when you're not in the room (this saved me $150 a month in the summer).
21. Use the real thing instead of disposable: towels, napkins, plates, glasses, diapers.
22. Plan your meals around the sales, instead of planning your meals and then shopping. Better yet, stock your pantry around the sales, and then make whatever you want!
23. Stay home. If you're home, you're not spending money on gas, food, entertainment, clothing, or anything else. Walk outside and enjoy the fresh air without going anywhere else.
24. Remember--if you can't afford it, it doesn't matter how good of a deal it is!
25. When the soles on your shoes wear through, have them resoled rather than buying new shoes.
26. Get books and movies from the library. Renew books online so that you make less trips to the library.
27. Look at your insurance rates and see if they can be lowered by changing to another company (usually every 2 years).
29. Unplug appliances when you're not using them--the toaster, the blender, the tv, ceiling fans, the computer, etc. You may have heard that keeping the computer on is better; I found that when I turned it off at night, and changed nothing else, my electric bill dropped $50 the next month.
30. Turn off the lights and open the curtains during the day!
31. Take shorter showers.
32. Eat soup once a day as your main course.
33. Don't buy battery operated toys.
34. Wash clothes in cold water.
35. Make your own laundry soap.
36. Don't buy dryer sheets. Clothes get full of static because they dry too long. Use the timed dry setting on your dryer instead. Figure out how long it takes for each load to dry, and set the dial accordingly. Most of my loads are dry in 60 minutes (I dry everything on low). Towels take 80 minutes, or 60 minutes on medium heat. Thin clothing may dry in as low as 20 minutes. If you have a clothes line, there is no dryer cost at all!
37. If you have central air/heat: Change your air filters regularly, so that your heating and a/c units won't have to work as hard.
37. Turn off the kitchen lights, except for the ones over the table, during dinner. Just doing this saved my family $20 a month on our electric bill.
38. Use basic cleaners: vinegar (buy in bulk), baking soda (bought in bulk), bleach (I buy the Target brand with a Target coupon), borax (great for scrubbing bathtubs), ammonia, dish soap, and WATER.
40. Use rags for regular cleaning and wiping up spills.
41. Open the windows in the morning to let in fresh air instead of using something to scent the air. In the summer, letting fresh air in your home in the early morning will help cool your house for several more hours each day, so you won't have to run the a/c as many hours.
When You Don't Have Health Insurance
Barter for services. Growing up, my mother traded merchandise from her retail store for our dental cleanings.
Ask for the uninsured or cash-pay discount. Hospitals and doctors sometimes offer discounts to those who are paying it themselves. With the hospital, you will have to ask it for each bill: the emergency room, the hospital itself, and each doctor who sends you a bill.
If it's not an emergency, go to the doctor and not to the hospital. Hospital bills are much larger than doctor's office bills.
Learn how to treat common illnesses and injuries at home.
For immunizations, you can go to your county health department. Shots can be as low as $10, compared to an office visit of $80 plus $35 - $110 for the shot (and that's per shot).