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Here are a few of the simple changes, apart from couponing, that we made in our spending habits:

:: Cut back services to reflect actual usage.

Again, it’s not rocket science, but when you’re living on a tight budet every penny helps.

By recycling, we were able to decrease the garbage we generated.  Less garbage, smaller garbage can.

We are also one of the few remaining American households who don’t have cable television.  *Gasp!*  That’s right.  No Dish Network.  No Tivo.  We utilize Netflix (unlimited streaming/1 movie at home at a time) at the low monthly rate 0f $8.99, Comcast’s Xfinity TV and the old internet TV stand-by HULU.  We’ve also pared down our phone and Internet plans to match our needs.

Small changes?  Yes.  But they all add up to equal a significant savings over the course of a year.

:: Remember that kids don’t need to look like they just stepped out of a Name Brand catalog.

You know those vows you make before you have children?   The ones that involved effortless obedience and no high fructose corn syrup?  Well, ours also included toting around cutely clothed miniature people.  Guess what?  Our kids’ clothes now come from family hand-me-downs, consignment shops, killer clothing sales, and clearance racks.

Some of you have this down to a science, utilizing Amazon, e-Bay, Craigslist, and/or consignment sales to clothe your children for little to nothing out of pocket. Who cares if it’s “last seasons” line?  They’re kids.  It’s going to have a blueberry stain on it in five seconds flat anyway.

:: Start menu planning.

Before we became couponers, we didn’t shop sales cycles or loss leaders, making for a high grocery bill.  We still like to mix things up, throw caution to the wind, and serve lasagna instead of spagetti if we so desire.  The great majority of the time, though, we stick to my menu plan which helps us stick to our shopping list which helps us stick to our grocery budget.

:: Use the library.

We make trips to the library at least once a month, checking out a crazy number of resources.

The library is a free, friendly resource just waiting for you to walk through its doors.  Also, by accessing your account online, you can renew and reserve from the comfort of your own couch which also helps cut down on those pesky overdue fines.  Many library systems now include online books, score!

Not a big reader?  Think outside the box:

Movies & Music. From new DVD releases, complete tv seasons, documentaries, workout systems, and chidren’s selections, the library is a great place to find some free entertainment.

Events & Classes. Children’s Storytime. Book Discussions. Craft Workshops. Author Lectures. Competitive Chess or Scrabble. Knitting Groups. Computer Classes. Puppet Shows. Homework Help. Reading to Therapy Dogs… Seriously, larger libraries have everything you can think of and more. Explore yours!

The library is a great place to preview cookbooks, check out resources for a research project, discover new authors, or keep your rotation of children’s books interesting.

:: Avoid your budget kryptonite.

In other words, figure out what kills your budget and learn how to control and/or avoid it.

If you are struggling to cut back on extra spending, take a look at your weak areas and tighten things up.  Is it online shopping?  Costco?  The mall?  Starbucks?  A little self-control goes a long way on a tight budget.

Well, there you have it.  Our family’s top five simple ways to cut spending.  Now it’s your turn.  Share your wisdom!