Serious savers will never be caught in the mall on a Saturday afternoon. They just don't do it. If you stop viewing shopping as a social activity you won't feel like you're on a diet when you trim your spending.
Get to Know Your Stores:
From buy-one-get-one-free deals to rewards programs, your local grocery stores may offer some amazing ways to save cash.
"Know how your [grocery] stores' sale programs work," "Coupon Mom" Nelson said.
In terms of clothing, thrift stores and consignment shops are some of the penny-pincher's greatest resources. You'll be surprised, not only at the deals available, but also at the quality of the products available in many of these stores.
Embrace the Coupon:
Most bargain-hunters rely on coupons to some degree and, in these tough times, coupon use is on the rise. But these aren't your mother's coupons. These days, you can clip them, print them or download them. Just like most things, coupons have gone digital. In one month, Nelson's subscribers printed 4.6 million from her Web site CouponMom.com -- that's up from just 200,000 printed in the same month last year.
In addition, sites like Coupons.com, RedPlum.com or SmartSource.com are great go-to sources for printable coupons. And despite the popular belief, coupons aren't just for processed and unhealthy foods. Mambosprouts.com, for example, offers coupons for healthy, organic brands. Several grocers now allow shoppers to download coupons directly from the stores' Web sites to their shoppers advantage cards.
And sites like Cellfire.com let you download discounts to your mobile device. But don't overlook the traditional print coupons that come with your newspaper. According to Nelson, 85 percent of coupons used are the old-fashioned kind.
If a store has a sale or if there is a great buy-one-get-one-free deal, go ahead and splurge. "It never hurts to stock up," Nelson said.
Lincicum, who feeds her family of five on as little as $400 a month, waits until she finds a good price on meat and poultry and then buys in bulk and either freezes the meat or pre-cooks a few meals for her family.
While this does require a certain amount of freezer space, ultimately, it will save you money. "On those nights when everything is just crazy and we want to call for pizza or get takeout, I reach for the freezer instead," Lincicum said.
Show Off Your Kitchen Skills:
In addition to using up your stockpiled groceries, cooking for yourself and your family will help save your wallet and your waistline. You know the drill: bring your lunch to work, pack lunches for kids and avoid the take-out.
Also, remember to always make too much. Whip up an extra batch of waffles on Sunday morning and avoid paying for the pricey frozen ones later in the week. Instead of one lasagna, make two and freeze it for later.
Don't Go Overboard:
While all this can sound very time-consuming, even the pros don't spend hours clipping coupons or cooking extras in the kitchen and running around to every bargain store in town. "It really is about [balance], I want to enjoy my life," Wolk-Stanley said.
Remember that many coupons are valid for several months, so there's no need to rush. In fact, holding on to coupons until there's a sale may help you ultimately save even more money.