My big hint is www.thegrocerygame.com. It takes couponing to the next level and means that you use your coupons in conjunction with categorical sales in the store, store coupons, and your VONS card sales (I shop at VONS, but they have it for all the major stores). The coolest thing about it is that they keep track of everything so you don't have to guess when the best time is to use your coupons. Plus, they tell you which produce and meats are at their best price - that's great for me because I'm bad at remembering stuff like that. I typically save 50-60% on my groceries every time I go, for a time investment of around 30-45 min a week. Just see how impressed your hubby is when you come home and tell him that you got $150 of groceries for $70!
Then what you do is plan your meals based on whatever you got through The Grocery Game that week. For example, this week I got a huge pork loin. Never have cooked a pork loin before, but I'm going to learn. My second biggest hint is www.allrecipes.com - this is the best recipe site, because you enter in the ingredient you have and all the recipes come up that have that ingredient. The cool thing, though, is that not only is the recipe itself rated out of five stars, you can flag reviews that are really helpful and they move up in the list. So all you have to do is read the top 5 or 6 reviews of the recipe and people will tell you the alterations that are necessary to make it really good! It means that you make the recipe the first time as if it were your 5th time with alterations included. =) Anyway, the combination of these two sites have transformed groceries and meal planning in our household.
A note about cancelling the home phone - if you do that, be sure to program your LOCAL police into your cell phone and use that instead of 911. My friend who is a police officer told me this. The cell phone 911 is not local, it goes to a regional call center and you end up having to wait in line after all the 911 calls in your region - he says it is ridiculous how long people have to wait for cell phone 911. You'll get a faster response on your cell phone if you dial your local police.
Double check your cell phone plan and make sure you're using all of the minutes, and that there aren't any services on there that you don't need. Reduce your plan down to what you actually use based on your historical call volume. Also, a lot of times they'll add "free for the first month" type services at the beginning and then you end up paying monthly for internet or some other service that you don't use. We saved around $50 a month when I reviewed our cell phone charges carefully and changed our plan.
If you have different internet and phone providers, check to see if Verizon's bundled plan is cheaper. We were paying $70 for DSL, and then once our contract was up we researched it and have switched to the Verizon bundled plan - essentially now we get our internet for $5 a month!
If you are good about paying your credit card bills be sure to call them up and ask them for a reduced interest rate.
My hubby started driving a scooter to work instead of the car. He gets approx 70 mpg. That has made a HUGE difference in our gas bill. Also, we have a Vons with a gas station here in La Verne- you automatically get 3 cents/gallon off when you use your Vons card. Also, when you shop at Vons (which I do exclusively because they double my coupons), you earn huge gas rewards. Yesterday the checker told me I'm going to save 70 cents per gallon on my next fill-up.
Double check your insurance policies to make sure the coverage is exactly what you need and no more. I use Farmers and I just told my agent I wanted to try to decrease our payment, and she worked with me to eliminate the fluff from our policy - it turned out there was some stuff on there that we didn't need to pay for (like, we were paying a few bucks per month to have the option of a free rental car while our car was in the shop - well, our Carmax car warranty provides that already, so we were paying for coverage we already had).
We got a water cooler and get water refills from our local water store. WAY cheaper than having water delivered or buying water bottles at the store, plus now we have hot and cold drinking water on demand, and always have several large containers of emergency water on hand just in case.
We do Blockbuster Online instead of renting movies. The cool thing about it is that we always have movies on hand to watch, plus you can exchange them in the store for a rental, so you can be spontaneous on a Friday night too.
For any other ladies out there who play games or have husbands who do, my husband has subscribed to a program called Gamefly.com. It's just like Blockbuster or Netflix except for videogames, so for $25 a month he always has a game to play. This is amazing to us because Playstation Games cost $60 each, and he goes through several of them per month. The awesome thing about it is that it means he tries out all of these games before committing any money to them, and it has brought his gaming hobby down to an affordable level. (They have games for all of the different platforms, Playstation, Wii, Xbox, the handheld ones, etc.) And then, to top it all off, if he likes a game and wants to buy it, he just buys the one they sent him and they sell it at a MUCH cheaper price than retail. I can't even say how much $$ this service has saved us.
If you have to buy anything at all, look on Craigslist.org and Freecycle.org FIRST. Don't go out an buy a new baby gate or bookcase, whatever, look and see if someone else is getting rid of one. Also, try to sell your stuff on Craigslist before giving it to Goodwill. You better bet that someone out there wants it for a bit of $$.
Use a bread machine to make yummy white and french bread for much cheaper than the store.
For an easy, cheap meal, I put pork, chicken, or beef in the crockpot with our favorite BBQ sauce and once it is really soft just shred it and serve it on rolls.
Well, that's it for now! Keep them coming ladies, this is super helpful.