Many people understand the goal of living within their means, spending less than they earn and saving for a rainy day. Most people don't do it. Here are some basic tips to help you break the pattern:

  1. Live in a neighborhood where most people make a little less than you do so you won't feel so much pressure to spend.

  2. Contribute to your 401k at work so you don't have a chance to spend the money you're saving.

  3. Use, the free on-line budgeting system, to track your spending and help you manage your financial goals. (Don't like Try another system.)

  4. Give yourself an allowance for discretionary spending-in cash. When the cash is gone, stop spending - no credit cards!

  5. Don't shop when you don't have money left in your budget; build your willpower by staying away.

  6. Proudly drive your old car and take care of it so it will last a long time. Nothing hurts a budget more than having to buy a new car.

  7. Take advantage of errands that can be done on foot - stop laughing at yourself for driving two blocks for this or three blocks for that.

  8. Eat out less. Eat in more.

  9. Have a meal preparation marathon once or twice a month, preparing meals in bulk that can be frozen and reheated later, saving money and time.

  10. Look for cheaper hobbies or cheaper ways to enjoy the hobbies you enjoy. Running is cheaper than biking (no bike, less gear). Golfing at the municipal course is cheaper than at the club.

  11. Use coupons, watch sales, and shop smart to buy the things you need.

  12. Don't buy things you don't need that don't fit in your budget no matter how convincing the sale, no matter how lofty the discount! Define for yourself the difference between a "need" and a "want."

  13. Engage the entire family. Let everyone be a part of the plan to save money. Everyone will benefit so let everyone share in the sacrifice.

  14. Don't use credit cards, payday loans or other borrowed money to close the gaps in each paycheck. Borrowing will only make the next paycheck cycle harder.

  15. Look for substitutes in the grocery store that save significant dollars each month but won't impact your pleasure. Think two-liter bottles of soda instead of cans and store brand products instead of name brands. You end up with the same food and the same pleasure but at a lower cost.

Applying even a handful of these ideas consistently, over time will have a tremendous impact on your budget.

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