I recently read some great savings tips from "The Tightwad Gazette" book. It emphasizes that there are three basic, but very important, ways to save money:
1) Buy it cheaper
2) Make it last longer
3) Use it less
It gave an example of dress shoes. Let's say you wear a $75 pair of shoes every day, and they last 6 months. This is $150/yr. Using the methods above, you can save by:
1) Stocking up on the shoes when they go on sale for $60, and buy at least 2 pair (save $30/yr)
2) Take them to a shoe repair shop and get them reheeled for $10 (save $65/yr)
3) Wear last year's old shoes for street use, or when you don't need to look super fancy (save $75/yr)
What a simple concept! Though $30 over a course of one year doesn't seem like much, think about how many $30's here and there could really add up. These three saving methods can be used for anything - groceries, gasoline, hobbies, etc.
Here are some ideas of how to use these tips:
1) Buy it cheaper: Shop sales, wait for things to go on sale before buying, price match at stores, search for coupons before buying things, stock up on things when they go on sale, go for the cheaper brands, shop by price - not by convenience, be willing to save up for something and buy it once it goes on sale - no impulse buys. Find cheaper ways of doing things, even when it comes to hair cuts, vaccinations, decorating, cooking, etc.
2) Make it last longer: Get regular tune-ups and stay on top of maintenance for cars, machinery, tools, etc., reuse empty containers, add a little water to things (juice, hand soap, etc) to make it go farther, keep food in airtight containers, use good stain removers on clothes/carpet/shoes, etc to make them last a long time, get crafty with old things to make them new again, scrape the bottom of the bottle/container, get things repaired rather than throw them out - especially big things like appliances, teach your family members (kids especially) to respect your things, go 1 extra week before getting your nails done or hair cut, borrow someone else's rather than buying your own.
3) Use it less: Don't be wasteful with things like shampoo/conditioner/lotion, drive less, cut back on guilty pleasures like coffee/manicures/gourmet treats, etc, save your nice or expensive things for special occasions only, turn things off when you aren't actively using them, use portion control, do something else instead - get creative.
Here is a Saving Craving challenge for you:
For one month, with everything you do, try to find ways to 1) Buy it cheaper 2) Make it last longer and 3) Use it less. I think you will be shocked at how many ways you can cut back, little by little. Give it a try, it's not as easy as you may think!
Good luck, and happy savings to you :)