You're a one income family looking for ways to save money. Often, a family's first impulse is to cut spending. It's a good impulse. Go with it! Most family budgets have areas just begging for a trim.
But what are the best ways to reduce expenses? Here are what I deem the easiest ways to save the most money. In this checklist, you won't find suggestions for recycling dryer lint or the best way to reuse Ziploc bags. What you will find are ways to save hundreds of dollars a month without radically changing your lifestyle. Not all these ideas will be for you; pick and choose the ones you can live with and forget about the rest.
Eat out only half as often
It rarely works to go from eating out several times a week to not at all. You end up feeling deprived and "treating yourself" eventually. If you typically eat out twice a week, you can save $100 to $300 a month by cutting back to once a week. Of course, now's the time to use your entertainment book or the coupons in your Sunday paper to save even more.
Plan your weekly menu according to what's on sale at the grocery store
Just a few minutes with the sale flyers can save you at least $200 a month, especially if you clip coupons. Make it a mission never to pay full price for meats or pre-packaged items (like Rice-A-Roni or Chef Boyardee). By planning ahead, you also don't have that dinner-hour scramble to decide what to make. Bye-bye, pizza delivery man!