Personal Finance

Web Extra: Five Things to Cut From Your Budget

A lot of us are trimming our budgets now -- cutting out what we never needed -- to surf the economic shockwaves. And usually that means we need to start with the big-ticket items. Areas where we can cut hundreds, even thousands dollars a month, not just a few dollars a week. To that end, here are five tips for where you can create big savings in your household budget.

1. Groceries

It's all about the coupons. Those 30 cents here and 40 cents there are big savings for a family of any size, week in and week out. Keep track of prices. Know when you can use double coupons. And make your meal plans before you head to the grocery store. That way you're less likely to succumb to cravings.

And if it's BIG savings you want, then you've got to have more meals as a family -- at home.

The United States Department of Agriculture has estimated that the percentage of middle class budgets spent on dining out can be as high as 44%. Just think what you can afford and what you can save if one more meal was held at your table.

2. Communication

Premium cable channels, unlimited text messages, and full access are expensive luxuries in our modern age. Triple-play packages of cable, internet, and phone access can cost upwards of $200. And often the secret about these package deals is that the price shoots up after an introductory offer that lasts from one to two years.

Check the terms of your contract. You might a find an unpleasant spike in price in the near future. If that's the case, but you need your I-fix, try to haggle. With an economic downturn, you've got the power to work out a deal that until that moment may not exist on any paper.

3. Utility Bills

You can't do much about the price of oil for home heating or the price of electricity to see your breath. What you can do is learn to learn a few home repair words. Words like "insulation" and "weather stripping."

4. Clothing

Don't pay retail! We like clothes for ourselves and we like to spend on our kids, but the in a down market, there's no shame in hitting the thrift stores and clearance racks.

If you have toddlers, don't feel the need to buy them the latest fashion. Wait until they're older before you dress them for success. I do not pay retail and I never will.

5. Entertainment

It's usually the first cut we make. But also the area where we get the most creative. Web sites like ENTERTAINMENT.COMoffer coupon books for most every region of the country. The book offers 2-for-1 and 50% savings.