1. Clip coupons
It only takes half an hour on a dreary Sunday morning to save some extra cash. When the paper arrives or when you get those enormous leaflets in the mail, don't flip past the good stuff. Instead, start looking through the coupon section for products you buy on a regular basis. When you're about to go shopping, you can also search for coupons online. Web sites such as coupons.com are a legitimate source of both store and manufacturers' coupons that you can either print and take with you, or save to use when shopping online.
2. Buy generic
From prescription medications to frozen pizza, there is a generic alternative for just about every brand name on the market. Why pay full price for a product when you can save 20 to 50 percent or even more on the generic equivalent? For things such as prescriptions, ask your doctor about generic options, but everything else is pretty much your own decision. As you try out new generic products, you'll get a feel for what looks, tastes and smells like the "real thing," and what does not.
3. Trade, don't buy
Rather than heading to the store every time you need a new lamp or a toy for the kids, talk to friends and relatives. You'd be surprised how many people you know have attics, basements, storage units and backyard sheds full of stuff you might be able to put to use. This is a great strategy for parents, but it will work for just about anyone. You can also check out Web sites such as freecycle.com, which connect people who have items they want to trade. No money exchanges hands, and who's going to know that the adorable floor lamp or set of toy cars came from someone else rather than the store?
4. Combine services
Many do not realize that they can save hundreds of dollars each year simply by bundling services they use anyway. Internet, cable, satellite TV, telephone, cell phone and other utilities are often offered by the same provider, and come bundled for less than what they cost separately. Before you write another check, find out if you can switch things around and save some money.
5. Work out(doors)
Do you pay a couple hundred dollars every year for your gym membership? If so, one of the easiest money saving ideas is to cancel that membership and get outside. There are plenty of opportunities for exercise in your community, such as neighborhood parks with bike paths, tennis courts, hiking trails and more.
6. Use free entertainment
Rather than paying 12 bucks for a movie, use the free entertainment in your neighborhood. Public parks, swimming pools, nature preserves and other interesting places don't cost a penny.
7. Buy in bulk
A membership to a bulk supply store such as Sam's Club or Costco might cost money up front, but it pays for itself each time you use the card to purchase bulk products. This is especially important for large families who go through lots of groceries and other products on a daily basis.
8. Enjoy a staycation
Thinking of visiting Disney World or the Grand Canyon this summer? Instead, plan a "staycation" to save some money. You and your family can have fun renting movies and attending events in your own community, which will save money on things such as airfare, gas, food and entertainment.
9. Get organized
Many Americans waste hundreds of dollars each year on needless expenses related to organization. Do you sometimes forget to pay your bills on time, incurring a late fee? Concentrate on getting your home office in order and keeping a calendar so you never have to deal with unnecessary fees and penalties.
10. Plan your trips
Every time you leave your house in your car, you spend money. Those gas receipts can start to add up. Fortunately, you can reduce the amount you pay in gas by carefully planning each of your excursions. When you need to visit several stores, for example, start with the one furthest from your house and work your way back instead of driving all over town.
These money saving ideas might not put you in a league with Bill Gates or Oprah, but they can make a significant difference in your bank balance.