Hmmm. Blogger doesn't want me to edit the previous post. It's been a little...odd...since they did yesterday's maintenance.
At any rate, to answer Rachel Anne's question about favorite money-saving ideas:
Reevaluate cell phone plans: Analyze your monthly bill, looking at whether all those special features are really necessities, or are money drainers. Weigh the cost of changing plans against the savings on the monthly bill. Remember, those savings go on month after month.
Challenge yourselves to a "no non-essentials" week: Vow that for seven days, you won't purchase anything that is not an essential. This works best if you very narrowly define what is "essential" - while groceries may be an essential for the week, the bar of Godiva chocolate that made its way into the shopping cart may not be. Track how much you didn't spend. See how many weeks in a row you can meet the challenge.
Permit yourself an indulgence, but change how you obtain it: A grande, non-fat, sugar-free hazelnut latte at Starbucks goes for about $4.00. A Krups espresso maker with steamer, pound of espresso beans, gallon of milk and bottle of flavoring will total roughly $60-75. After about the 19th latte, the supplies have paid for themselves. Granted, it takes a little more work than pulling up to the drive through (I set the machine up the night before and put the latte in a warmed travel mug - start to finish in the morning it takes less than five minutes to make).
What's your favorite guilty pleasure? Figure out a less expensive way to indulge, or come up with a way to cut back on other things to allow an occasional splurge. That little bit of luxury goes a long way in lifting the spirits.
Use the library: Free internet, books, CDs, periodicals and DVDs to check out, free programs for the kids...this is one of the best resources to use no matter what the economy.