Take a Household Inventory
In her book, Walker describes her experience of helping a friend clean her house after the birth of a child. Walker organized their home from top to bottom, including closets and drawers. Through her efforts, she discovered an entire department store worth of stuff that the family had forgotten they ever had! The list included food, toys, medicine, and clothes. Because the family didn't know what they already had, they were spending their hard-earned money on duplicate items.
Walker says, "The first step to managing family life on one income is to benchmark where you are." This means going through your home, room by room, drawer by drawer, to find out what you already have. Organize what you need and get rid of what you don't. Many of us waste countless dollars buying new things simply because we can't find what we already own.
Limit Your Dining Out
Many of your favorite restaurants likely have weekly specials. If your family is accustomed to eating out, Walker advises finding out which nights of the week restaurants offer the discounted rates. "It's a great way to enjoy the same food at a lower price," she says. Lunch menus tend to have lower prices as well, if your family would be interested in an afternoon meal out, perhaps on the weekend, instead of dinner. And don't forget restaurant coupons—some of which may offer buy one/get one free entrees. Limit the number of times a week or month you dine out, since even fast food meals can add up in a hurry.
Make a New Friend
Walker insists that making friends with the manager of your favorite local grocery store can really pay off. "He or she is authorized to offer accommodations such as waive the limit on sale items, negotiate a lower price on large purchases, and direct you to in-store specials," she says. Most store managers are willing to do whatever it takes to make and keep their customers happy.