This is a conversation that I don't think people have often enough! I used to make more money than I do now so I switched my thinking on things in the last couple years. I don't have a family to support right now, so my corner cutting is pretty simple and prob. only relevant to those without kids/other responsibilities. The most basic things that I do to cut out extraneous costs are:
1. Not have TV/cable (internet, yes of course)
2. Don't buy coffee out anymore. This seems trivial, but yesterday I got a regular iced coffee at the truck at the farmers market and it was $4! That cray.
3. Rarely have drinks out. I used to drink out all the time but it really adds up (I like cocktails, not beer).
4. The single biggest money saver I implemented was switching where I buy groceries. I used to just shop at KeyFood or wherever was convenient. I started doing big shops less often and going to either Trader Joes or Fairway about once a month. I easily cut what I spend on food in half.. I'm not really a strict budget kind of person, but I know that makes a huge difference.
5. Do my own laundry (often by hand) rather than send out.
6. I don't buy unlimited metrocards all the time, but only for weeks when I know they'll pay for themselves.
7. Use cash/debit rather than CCs. Obvious, but I used to stick so much more stuff on a credit card. Interest payments are a silent killer. Especially if you already have to pay interest on student loans every month.
I like to walk, so I walk *a lot*. I'm lucky to have friends who like to just walk around NY at night, so that's pretty much what we do. On Fri night we walked from Grand Army to Coney Island and ate pizza and watched fireworks. It was great and basically free.
That being said, I have my own extravagances and I travel, so my money goes to plane tickets, etc.. but I don't take cars to the airport, I don't buy airport food or even water and I don't pay to check bags. When I get where I'm going, I basically just repeat the above list.
I am stealing #6 from you. I just always buy an unlimited "just in case" but I find that I have whole weeks where I don't really need it.
A lot of my savers are similar to yours:
1) I don't have cable
2) I make my own coffee every morning
3) I bag my lunch
4) I am a lush and really drink at home
I also do the following:
1)I grocery shop for can goods at 99c stores or in low income neighborhoods. I find staples like beans, rice, tuna etc are so much cheaper in the Bronx. If you find yourself in the Bronx, bring a book-bag and go shopping!
2)I save my old laundry detergent bottles and replace said detergent with watered down dish detergent at 99c. It works great but you want to water it down to avoid laundry flooding
3)If you have some extra space get a small freezer and buy costco/bj's meat in bulk. My freezer enabled me to buy bulk meat at less than 40c a pound.
4) ceiling fans, with windows open and shades closed, have saved me so much on my light bill. I also have everything on power strips and unplug them before I go to work.
5)I buy real leather shoes and have them resoled, or fixed, rather than buying new shoes all the time. I also own like 5 pairs of shoes.
a teaspoon of kisses and a drop of glee