*Read http://www.moneysavingmom.com daily. She has an amazing list of deals, from everything to free food to helpful coupons. Well worth the trip.
*Need plane tickets? Check http://www.kayak.com/ first. This site compares dozens of different sites, and gives you a good idea of the best price fast.
*Choose a credit card (no annual fee) that gives you cash back with every purchase.
*Check Ebates ( http://www.ebates.com ) first when you're making big purchases. They'll often offer cash-back possibilities from a huge array of companies.
*Don't join Netflicks, Blockbuster or another movie-renting biz without checking Ebates first. These places often offer a free month of rentals and/or a cash-back discount. Cashcrate( http://www.cashcrate.com/ ) is another spot to check.
*Instead of a candy bar, choose gum. I love almond Snickers, but my inner child can be distracted by Bazooka bubble gum every time.
*Check the clearance meats and dented can sections every time you visit the grocery store.
*Notice a battered can or bruised bag of fruit? Mention it to the clerk. Most times, they'll mark it down immediately.
*Visit your local dollar store. Many groceries, as well as imported foods, are cheaper there. (This must do for those of us not lucky enough to have a Trader Joe's in town!)
*Check the week's sale ads -- then flip through your coupons while the sale items are still fresh in your memory.
*Add a little water to clear out the extra in your bottle or jar of salad dressing, ketchup, milkshake (use milk), juice, soup, spaghetti sauce...even shampoo. That little bit adds up.
*Add half a can of milk or water to the 'ready-to-serve' chunky-style soups. Stretches them even further, and you won't taste much if any difference.
*Use only half of that flavoring packet. Taco seasoning can actually cover two batches of meat. Ramen noodles taste great with half the packet; add the rest to your next soup kettle to vamp up the flavor.
*Give your doggy buddies a carrot. They'll love it, and it's cheaper than a chew bone!
*Brush your pets regularly. They'll look and feel better, and you don't have to vacuum up so much hair. (It also saves wear and tear on your vacuum -- and back.)
*Send multiple packages in one. For example, if your siblings are going to be at your parents' house for Christmas, send everything to your folks -- the higher the weight, the less you're going to pay per ounce.
*Choose gift items that can be sent media rate. This means videos, books, calendars, music, etc. Saves a bundle on postage...but bear in mind that media rate takes up to a few weeks to arrive.
*Buy 'forever' stamps now...postage prices are going up in a few weeks AGAIN. 'Forever' stamps cost the current rate, and can be used -- yep, that's right -- forever.
*Keep a box by the front door -- for library books, returns, stuff to take to friends, and other items you'll need for errands. Saves time and energy looking for them.
*Have a rebate to send in? Do it NOW. Don't wait. (If you've read my past posts, you know I've learned this the hard way.)
*Keep an "edible-but-not-my-favorite" durable snack in the car. Helps in case of breakdowns and blizzards, as well as unexpected hunger. (We also keep a bottle or two of water, flashlight, jumper cables, first aid kit and a blanket.)
*Renew your passport at least three months BEFORE you need it. Or just do it now. You may run across a huge bargain in a Mexican trip, or a cruise.
*Plan ahead. Are you heading out of state for Christmas? Staying here, and spending your anniversary weekend at a luxury hotel? Start researching tickets and specials now, and save months from now.
*Put food in your kids' Christmas stockings and birthday boxes, instead of gewgaws. What child wouldn't like his favorite snack -- just for him? Our oldest girlie dotes on cans of tuna; our youngest loves garlic dill pickles. Both enjoy cans of black olives, salted nuts and specialty fruit. (Oh, the joys of Christmas afternoon, with a new book and black olives, one for each finger...)
*Keep a 'Treasures' box. Orphan earrings, embroidery cut from a stained pillowcase, bits and pieces of Daughters' activities, including medals, etc. I use these as embellishments for memory quilts and other projects...they look great!