Stay home. Go through your closet and find cute and inventive ways to wear what you already have. Buy generic. Learn to cook. You’ll have the time if you stop watching so much TV. Find a great thrift shop. Find your local library and check out one of the books listed under resources. Better yet, check out books on how to better your life. Find something by a good life coach that appeals to you. Anthony Robbins audio books are very motivating. If you have a long commute to work, you have the time. The best ones are always out at the library. Get on the waiting list if necessary. Limiting television will limit your exposure to advertisers. You’ll be amazed at how much you can do without it.
Look for great resources for free entertainment. Take a picnic to a museum on free days. Hit the beach, lake, park or other local attractions. With kids, try a movie exchange with friends. As adults, find ways to entertain at home rather than go to a club or bar. Martini parties, football/basketball games with chips and beer or rent a movie and invite friends over. Get your friends together and each try hosting a different weekend. $20 for easy-to-make appetizers (get recipe ideas on internet cooking sites) and a movie is cheaper than $100 for a night on the town. Make it a game. Some “saving money” books tell you to make a chart with your goals. Reward yourself with something each time you reach a goal. Get the whole family involved. Kids under 12 are really good at this.
While on the subject of kids, be honest with them. Tell them what you are doing and why. I try to avoid the sentence “we can’t afford it” mostly because that’s not true. I usually explain what I’m saving up for. Here’s an example: “Mom, can we stop a McDonalds?” “Not today. I’m trying to save money for our vacation to Florida. If we don’t eat out as much now, we will be able to stay longer at the theme park.” Or use the goal. “Honey, we want to get $1000 in our savings account. When we do, we’ll celebrate with a trip to McDonalds.” This sets a great example, gives your kids confidence in you for being honest and teaches them to save for their goals instead of going into debt. There are so many great lessons here. This works with adults too. If your spouse is a spendthrift or doesn’t know what you are doing, it may put a strain on your relationship. Be honest. Get them involved. If they still don’t want to, give him or her a set amount of cash with no strings attached and include that as an expense. Tell them “here’s $200 for you to spend on the things that you need, but we will not have enough money if you spend more.” This works great for teenagers too. When it’s gone, it’s gone.
Still need more income? Look around you at all the stuff you don’t need. Sell it on Ebay, half.com, a garage sale, Craig’s list or other means.