I'm not saying that everyone has to live according to the following suggestions. But if you've been digging out of a financial hole, as we have since 2008, then these suggestions might at least be helpful in the short term.
1) Drive a Beater (or at least eliminate your car payment). I've been driving the same Nissan Sentra for over 15 years now. I can fix it a lot of times for the price of a car payment. My annual mechanic's bill doesn't even come close to a year's worth of payments. Vehicles depreciate considerably the minute you drive them off the lot. I don't know that I would ever buy another new vehicle if i can help it, unless I could pay cash. But we did buy our van new since there is something to be said for reliability. Back in those days we had a new baby and spent our vacations driving the mountain passes of Colorado---something I wouldn't do in a beater.
2) Limit Recreational Spending. I never pay full price at the movies. Never. They come so quickly to DVD these days and even before that they are at the cheap seat theaters. One twenty minutes from here shows new releases for $3.00. Nor do we typically spend money on live sporting events since they are ridiculously expensive. In my opinion, to pay those high prices I would feel as if I was participating in the systemic sin of over-valuing those abilities that accomplish relatively little in the world, while teachers, social workers, and academic scholarships are typically under funded. I do take in a concert once in a very great while, but even then I'm in the budget nose bleed section.
3) Don’t eat out (much). We rarely eat out and when we do it’s usually Taco Bell or something like that. A splurge for us is Steak & Shake or Cracker Barrel. You’ll never find us at Olive Garden or Red Lobster unless someone else is paying.
4) Take a Staycation.The last two years we’ve either stayed with relatives or did regional day trips for vacation. There is much to see in your own back yard that you might not have noticed.
5) Be Slow to Upgrade. I’ve had the same flip phone for six years, the same PC at home since 2004, our DVD player doesn’t do blueray, and our TV is not HD. We shut off the cable two years ago and the only real sacrifice has been sports, although big events like the Olympics and the NCAA playoffs are usually on major networks we can get with an indoor antenna. Some events can be viewed online as well. As far as entertainment, subscriptions to Netflix (we’ve got streaming and DVD) or Hulu are far cheaper than cable. I refuse to pay $100 a month to watch TV.
6) Shop at Goodwill. You might be surprised at the nice clothes you can get at Goodwill and other thrift stores. You are helping the less fortunate and no one has to know where the stuff came from.
7) Stay out of Consumer Debt. The only consumer debt we have is our mortgage. I would never go into debt for anything but a necessity. If I cannot pay cash for furniture, TVs, or clothes, I’ll simply do without until I can afford it.
8) Put Off Home Improvements. Maintenance is necessity. Improvements are not. Call the plumber to fix the toilet, but not to install a hot tub.
9) Clip Coupons and Do Comparative Shopping. My wife is a master at this.
10) Shop Online. I have not paid retail for a book, cd, or even a musical instrument in…..I can’t even remember.
Following these disciplines have freed up a lot of money when you add it all up. I’m not sure we’ll keep doing all of them if we ever get out of the hole (which we did not dig). I hope that vacation, home improvements, better vehicles, and some upgrades will be in our future.
Disclaimer: I'm no financial expert and suggest you see professionals regarding your own situation.