Two of my pages at the top of this blog, Resources and Favorites, have some tips on frugal ways to increase your available cash for preparedness. Yesterday's great post by Patrice Lewis provides 25 home and lifestyle tips for reducing your cost of living.
During uncertain economic times, reducing your overhead and increasing your prudent reserve with cash, food or other operating supplies is a good idea. If you are employed in a business that is hard-hit by the soft economy, the extra preparedness supplies will provide peace of mind about possible wage reductions or temporary layoffs. In case of personal emergency, you will be able to feed your family from food storage.
What are your big recurring expenses? Is there something you can do to reduce them? Do you have homeowner and car insurance? If you are a active duty military or a veteran, check out USAA. If you were listed on a parent's USAA policy when you first drove, you are also eligible. Ask for quotes for the same coverage you have now with your current insurer. We saved several hundred per year when we switched our policies to USAA.
If not buying in bulk from Costco or Sam's, don't forget to cycle your buying and comparison shop (Patrice mentions the price book method). In my town, Target and Walmart are the low cost grocery stores. On many items under $5 each, these stores can cost as much as $1 less PER ITEM than the national chain groceries. The combination of buying on the low cost point of the quarterly or annual cycle, at the lowest cost seller in town AND using coupons when possible, can reduce your grocery bill by 20 to 30% without becoming a crazy coupon lady.
For example, last week I bought toothpaste on special. It was $3.08 per tube and you would receive a $5 gift card if you bought 3 tubes. I also had a coupon for the product from Crest. The combination would result in a price less than $2 per tube, and we were low on toothpaste, so it was time to buy. When I buy the specials with the Target $5 gift card incentive, I make 2 purchases. I buy the items providing a gift card(s) incentive FIRST as a separate purchase from the remainder of my cart. (In this case there were 3: the toothpaste, Advil and toilet tissue for $15 worth of gift cards.) I then immediately apply the gift cards to the second purchase of the remainder of the items in my cart. That method, along with other coupons and using product price cycles, saved me almost half of that second purchase total. It is important to buy only what you normally use, not get sucked into buying just to get a 'bargain.'
UPDATE: I forgot one $ saving tip that I use everyday. I keep a big bag of USA-made size 64 rubber bands that allow me to reuse bags and containers that fruits, nuts, etc. come in. They reduce the need for plastic zipper bags, 'tupperware-like' containers, etc. by a significant amount. These cost a fraction of a cent and until they break or you just plain wear them out, they last a long time. I wash and reuse them. I got the idea from saving the grocery store rubber bands on broccoli.