1. Get a library card. We've discovered that reading is a form of fun and relaxing entertainment for us. Why buy books, dvds, and magazines when you can have total access to them for FREE??? Many libraries now have Inter-Library Loan (ILL), which means if your library doesn't have a book (or dvd or cd) you're looking for, your library can borrow the book from another library and lend it to you. In college I got most of my textbooks from the library (and using ILL) and saved thousands of dollars.
2. Ditch cable TV. I know this might be hard to believe, but I guarantee you that if you never watch Jersey Shore ever again, you will have a more fulfilling life. I’m serious! The basic channels are all free. Try watching only the free channels for one month. Either you will find new favorite shows, or you won’t like any and will give up TV completely and find yourself doing things you actually love more than TV. The other way to go is Netflix. Chris and I don’t have any TV reception at our house, so we bought Netflix ($7.99 per month) to have access to tons of movies and tv shows commercial free.
3. Get to know the people who can give you discounts. The right contacts can save you a lot of money. For example, when we bought our washer and dryer from Lowe's a year ago, we got them for 70% off. They were on clearance (because the washer was blue and the dryer had a dent), and because Chris had favor with the department manager, he gave us an additional discount. At Hyvee, the best person to get to know is one of the leaders in the liquor department. The last few months Chris and I have been buying beer for half of the price because the department manager will show us where the crazy discount deals are that weren't advertised. Department managers in retail stores are the best people to get to know because they know their department well enough to know where the best deals are, and they may have more authority to add extra discounts. When I say "get to know them," I mean be friendly, nice, courteous, and genuinely acknowledge them. Chris and I have both worked in retail and it made our day when customers would just ask, "How are you today?" or have a conversation. Those are the customers that we didn't mind going the extra mile for and loved to help.
4. Ask for help from your friends. If we depend on our friends more, we could save more money. It's hard asking for help, not because my friends aren't willing to help, but sometimes it's hard to admit I need help! Real friends are willing to help you out for FREE. Don't pay for babysitting, ask you friends if you could watch their kids one night and another night they could watch your kids. Ask your handy friends for help fixing the toilet or remodeling the kitchen. Find out what your friends are good at, and let them use their strengths to help you. Additionally, offer your help to your friends for FREE. Imagine, if a whole neighborhood was friends with each other, every household would not own a lawnmower. There would probably be only 3 lawnmowers for the whole street to use when needed. We didn't own a sod-buster or a rototiller in order to get our garden started this year. When we saw our neighbors using a rototiller and sod buster, we asked if we could pay them to use it. Our neighbors didn't want our money, instead, they came over to our yard and sod-busted and rototilled a garden plot for us!
This is my friend Satomi and her daughter Airi (11 months). We frequently will babysit each other's babies for free so we can have date nights, run errands, or get some time alone. Ada and Airi love the time to play with each other too!
5. Tithing. How does giving your money back to God save you money? I don't understand how it works, but it does. One of those miracles. Malachi 3:10 says, "Bring the full tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open the window of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need." Chris and I have experienced this firsthand, that when we give 10% of our income back to the LORD, He blesses us even more financially.