My husband was suddenly laid off from his job (only hours of warning) and my monthly paycheque was already gone leaving us hardly any money to live off of. The first ten things that I did seem small but helped us survive the month wait, and currently helps us stretch my paycheque;
1) Cash in your coins - We had jars of coins waiting to be rolled and plenty of money from different countries we had visited. With free coin papers from our bank we spent the night rolling our coins. Together with the foreign currency we had $250 just laying around.
2) Eat everything in your pantry - I know this seems really simple but it is shocking how many times we go to the grocery store and neglect some of the essentials in our pantry. Using our crockpot and allrecipes.com (use the advance search button to customize recipes based on what you have in the house), freezing meals and leftovers, making stock out of vegetable scraps (ehow has a great article), using our breadmachine, and using our food processor to turn stale bread into bread crumbs we cut our grocery bill down by $1000. In April we spent a mere $100.
3) Cable is completely unnecessary - we haven't had cable for years because it just isn't necessary as there are plenty of shows available from networks online and all new episodes are posted the day after they air.
4) Cut variable costs - for now there is no eating out or activities/dates that don't come with a gift certificate - we have had to become very creative borrowing movies and books from the library, going for walks, and inviting friends/family over for tea and board games. We were surprised at how many gift certificates we had when we needed to use them.
5) Make a realistic budget - I determined exactly how much I make each month after taxes and budget every single expense. We also live on cash and record expenses to see where every cent goes.
6) Sell household items you don't use anymore - there are plenty of free websites online that you can sell household items you don't use - like appliances that were replaced by wedding gifts. You would be surprised what you have laying around.
7) Thrifty Beauty - I used to buy expensive, organic shampoo and conditioner until I realized the best thing for my wavy locks was just giving myself a scalp massage in the shower. When my ends are very dry I do use a little conditioner but the difference it has made in my hair is incredible - my waves are soft and pretty with no frizz whatsoever. Every liquid cosmetic I have I dilute with water to make it last longer at the end of the bottle with little to no sacrifice.
8 ) Fuel up where there are perks - I am an avid points collector (points has brought me my cappuccino machine and my fancy scale) but I found a gas station that gives me discounts on my groceries when I fuel up.
9) Research where you buy your groceries - I watched an online newscast recently where they examined the same groceries bought at different stores in my city - I found the cheapest place and started shopping there instead. I was shocked to find out how much more I was spending for nothing.
10) Take a breath and DON'T PANIC - We really didn't have an emergency fund but we changed our lifestyle so we could survive without going into debt at all. Life is a learning experience, our finances won't look like this forever but my new found saver knowledge will stay with me - which will come in handy when I want to pay off debt, or safe up for some of the perks of life.