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October 14, 2011

~By Erica D.

Times can be tough and everyone is looking to reduce expenses these days in the wake of the recession. Families are skipping vacations and everyone is looking for a way to stretch the dollar as much as possible until those better days that surely lie ahead. But what can you do on a daily basis to keep more money in your pocketbook and what can you start doing tomorrow to make an impact to help tighten your own fiscal budget?

If you have never considered car pooling this might be the perfect time to get into the habit. With gas prices as high as they are and with many people still driving alone to work, this might be the perfect opportunity to save yourself some serious money while having a little bit of fun at the same time. Even if you’re not a morning person, letting someone else do the driving a few days out of the week might be worth the social discomfort of having to chit chat with someone on your way to and from work. And the longer your commute the more money you are likely to save and you have to admit that it sure beats riding the bus.

If you’re just not sure how to go about starting a car pool, just be bold and approach a few of your coworkers that you know live close to your neighborhood. Hit them in the wallet and tell them that you were thinking of starting a car pool to save a little bit of money every month. Have some dollar figures worked out based upon your own cost of driving to work alone every week and ask your coworkers if they know of anyone else that might be interested in saving some serious money. The more the merrier but keep in mind, if you drive a two-seater sports car, you are a just a tad bit limited to how many people you can have in your car pool.

If you’re someone that regularly eats out for lunch, consider packing a lunch from home the majority of the week. You can still treat yourself to lunch out with your friends on Fridays or you can even start a movement at the office and talk your friends into packing a lunch and eating with you. Often, you will be able to save $25 or more a week just by “brown bagging it” which adds up to about $100 a month or $1200 a year. Do you think that you could use that kind of money for something more fun like a cruise or a short vacation to the beach?

If you worry that you’ll get bored with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, keep in mind that you can vary your cuisine the same way that you do when you eat out. It might require a little more planning but picking up all the fixings for lunches for the week can be fun. And if you really want to make a go of it on the cheap, you can always bring in leftovers from dinner instead of letting them age in the back of your refrigerator. Waste not want not and you’ll be making your mother happy that you’re not wasting any food these days!

While these are only a couple of ideas of how you can tighten your belt and reduce some expenses thus saving yourself a load of cash every month, you might find that your standard of living improves a little bit just from making these simple changes to your lifestyle. An extra couple hundred bucks a month could help stimulate anybody’s economy these days and you might just wind up reallocating that cash to something that really makes you happy in the future. As you can see, it really isn’t that difficult to make a difference and reduce expenses intelligently.

Do you have any suggestions for reducing expenses? Share them in the comments section.