Have the stuff to make a few easy meals on hand. Cheese and tortillas for quesadillas, noodles and jarred spaghetti sauce, frozen pancakes or waffles (when I make these, I put the extras in the freezer)- you get the idea. Sandwich meat and cheese are also great.
Easy, kid-friendly is the key . Scott and I can make do with whatever, but if we don't have anything to throw together for the kids, it's out to the fast food line for us. I find this especially helpful on nights when we have other things going on, like Wednesday or Sunday nights, or t-ball nights.
Cut the extra cable and cell phone minutes. This can be done with minimal pain. Before you change your cell phone plan make sure you won't be penalized with a longer evil contract.
Stick to the sales at the grocery store. Plan your menu around what is on sale. Be more loyal to saving money that you are to your favorite cookie, the Pepperidge Farm Chesapeake.
Stay home. We went to one car after our first child was born, and have only had one car for most of the past seven years. This was a big adjustment for me at first. I could no longer go whenever an idea popped in my head. But I immediately noticed that this put spending to a halt. I only went out when Scott was with me, and we just didn't have time to shop a lot.
Now we only go out for the basics like grocery shopping, church and to see friends. The library, beach, and park are also frequently on our list of destinations. What is missing is window shopping, long drives just to pass time (although I miss those), and walking the mall just to get out.
Staying home is not the same as being trapped at home. Our home is our favorite place to be. If you find this is not the case for you, take the time to figure out what makes other places better than home. We get restless sometimes, and we used to automatically jump in the car and go out. That didn't always cure the restlessness (I remember pulling back into the driveway after one of those trips out thinking, 'what now?'), so it really is a worthy use of time to think about what is at the root of your wandering spirit.
Stop looking at Pottery Barn catalogues if you need to. (I'm using Pottery Barn just as an example, but you could fill in the blank- Gap Kids, Williams Sonoma, Restoration Hardware) I know, you pick them up 'just to look', and maybe you have never purchased anything from one of those pricey merchants. But that's not the point.
Pottery Barn is not just selling the world's cutest $500.00 fire truck and butterfly bedding. They are also selling a lifestyle. You know what I mean- "Her house looks like Pottery Barn..." And you are thinking, "I want mine to, as well!"
I for one am a big Pottery Barn fan. But I do not at this time have a Pottery Barn budget. Like my grandma used to say, "Tami has champagne taste and a beer pocketbook." Of course, we can find create the Pottery Barn look for a lot less (like at Target), and shop their clearance section and find good deals. But don't even do that if you are not prepared financially to do so. So guard your heart!
These are just a few simple things that have helped us. What has helped you to save money?