But if you start now with a plan to cut expenses to the bone, there's peace of mind knowing you have an emergency fund for late bills, or "mad money" you can tap into for entertainment or holiday shopping sprees. All it takes is a little forethought and creativity!
Some of the following tips and ideas for saving money may be obvious. Some of them you may not have even thought about. When used together, they can amount to a small fortune in savings when you need it most:
1. Stop believing the hype and buy store or off-brands which are often as good or better than heavily marketed items. Opt for a cheap gallon of bleach rather than that bottled "miracle" cleaner at $4.95 a pop.
2. Stop eating out. Even that $3.00 cup of coffee from Starbucks every morning starts to add up when you can easily invest in a cheap coffee maker and thermos to make coffee-on-the-go each morning.
3. Shop in bulk. Find out the location of the nearest Costco, Sam's Club, or other wholesale warehouses in your area and take out a membership. Network with friends or family for a ride to create your own "food collective" so everyone saves money on food.
4. Shop the sales. Cruising the major outlets and department stores, there are discounts to be had on everything from sneakers to couture fashions. Seek them out and know the best months to shop for certain items, such as toys in January, sweaters and scarves in April, outdoor grills and furniture in September, etc.
5. Double your savings by searching for online coupons and discount codes.
6. Get rid of your land line and cut out your extra phone bill.
7. Sign up for basic service and when you want to watch a current movie or special event, go ahead and spend the extra couple of bucks on pay-per-view or "on-demand" service. You'll still be saving lots of money over the all-inclusive deals on offer.
8. With all the discount sites available, it's never been easier to save on travel. Shop around for last minute deals, all inclusive cruise packages, or cheap getaway vacations. Instead of staying in major cities, find out how much you can save on hotels located in smaller towns just outside the major tourist hubs. Instead of flying, take the train.
9. Do your own hair and nails. You'll save a fortune over having them done at a salon.
10. Wash your own car. If your handy with a wrench and ratchet, do car repairs yourself.
11. Same goes for electrical, plumbing, painting, or simple house maintenance chores. Go online for an encyclopedia of illustrated tutorials that can save you big bucks over hiring mechanics or contractors.
12. Buy used! Cars, clothes, and school text books are obvious purchases. Also keep an eye out for local garage or yard sales where hidden bargains are always waiting to be discovered, and don't be afraid to haggle.
13. When it's party time, there are dozens of web sites that offer recipes, printable invitations, party games, and how-to instructions on making your own decorations and centerpieces - all for free.
14. Instead of going crazy shopping for everyone during the holidays, gather friends and family together to organize a Secret Santa. Arrange a pot-luck dinner and you'll also save big on holiday entertaining.
15. Become fully acquainted with the neighborhood 99 cent store. You may even find yourself rubbing shoulders with "eccentric" millionaires.
16. Two words: Credit cards. Although most financial experts advise total elimination, it's really just not practical especially when you consider bargains online where credit card payments are an absolute necessity. Instead of cutting them up, eliminate all but one and keep a tight reign on it.