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40 tips to bring out the meanie in you

SAVING money is no longer a lifestyle choice of the frugal and parsimonious.

We've all got to save the cents and cut back on the euros thanks to a harsh budget, and the threat of worse cutbacks to come. Yet there are some ways to cut corners without losing out on all the fun in life.

1 Bring lunch into work. You'll end up with better tasting sandwiches than costly ones in shops.

2 Ask and you might receive. Don't be afraid to ask friends if they have something you might need -- such as a spare TV or a bicycle.

3 Make a list before going shopping. This cuts down on impulse buying extras.

4 Buy in bulk where possible. Buy non-perishable items in bulk whenever you find them on sale.

5food shop in a hurry. You'll have no time to browse the aisles.

6 Cook meals and freeze them. It stops you phoning for pizza when you're tired after work.

7 Party at home. Instead of eating out, host a potluck dinner for friends and get everyone to bring a dish to your place.

8 Make your own coffee. You can take it with you in a thermos mug. Don't underestimate savings from skipping take-out lattes.

9Check dates on food. Throwing out perishable goods because they've gone past their sell-by date is a waste of money.

10 Buy generic. Does it really matter if your cereal is the store brand?

11 Bottle tap water. Buying bottled water in shops is expensive.

12 Avoid vending machines. Whether it's a can of soft drink or a bar of chocolate, almost everything dispensed via vending machines has a huge mark-up.

13 Pay on time. Get organised about your regular household bills to avoid late payment charges.

14Keep in credit. Be aware of how much is going in and out of your bank and check the balance to avoid overdraft fees.

15 Avoid credit-card charges. If you can't clear the balance every month, consider a low-cost loan as an alternative.

16Pay off debt. Money paid in interest is money thrown away so keep debts to a minimum.

17 Budget before you shop. Decide who you have to buy presents for, and determine a budget based on the number you have to buy and the money you have available.

18 Don't take children shopping. They'll plead for treats and you'll pay to keep the peace.

19 Accept hand-me-downs. Children grow out of clothes and toys so quickly and there's no shame in this savvy move.

20Use secondhand stores. It can be hard to find clothes you like, but it's worth the rummage for those times you do find a gem.

21 Regift pressies you don't like. There's someone out there who'll love a cook book or a scarf and glove set.

22 Stay healthy. Make sure to eat well and get enough sleep and exercise if you want to cut back on medical bills.

23 Send e-Cards. If you're worried about the price of postage on Christmas cards, email some if not all of your friends and family.

24Sales shop. Make a deal with friends that you'll buy gifts when prices drop.

25 Cut the calories. Get in fewer boxes of chocolates and biscuits over Christmas and you'll still be trim come New Year.

26Borrow books. Instead of buying books, just get them from the library.

27Early birds. Go to matinee shows in the theatre and eat early in restaurants for cheap deals.

28Order DVDs online. You may need to wait once you order the movie but if you watch a lot of movies at home, you'll get into the habit of ordering ahead of time.

29Find what's free. Rediscover the free amenities in your area, whether it's a park, beach, or local community club.

30Keep it clean. Snuff out expensive habits like smoking, over-eating and binge drinking, which are costly habits to maintain.

31 Disconnect your landline. You may need a landline if you have young children or are elderly, but consider if you can survive with your mobile alone, and get your internet via cable.

32It's only a box. Do you need all those TV channels? Get rid of cable, or cut back on the number of channels you have to save money.

33 Regulate your electricity use. Apparently, unplugging the TV instead of just switching it off can save a lot of electricity. Switch off lights when no one is in the room.

34Snuggle up and save. Buy thermal vests to save on heating. Wear an extra jumper, and put on leggings under jeans. Seriously, who'll see you when you're at home?

35cold comforts. Wash clothes in cold water. You don't need to pay to heat water when today's machines and detergents get clothes just as clean in cold.

36Put pampering on hold. Stop indulging regularly in treats like candles and bubble bath. You're not worth it. Only kidding, you are of course, but keep these potentially costly treats down to a minimum.

37 Stop trying to keep up with the Joneses. Keeping up appearances is costly and can be stressful.

38 Sell your clutter on eBay. If you have loads of clothes you haven't worn, sell them for some quick cash.

39Extra cover equals extra cash. Avoid extended warranties on electrical goods. If your expensive telly isn't going to last three years, perhaps it's not worth buying in the first place.

40 Learn to say 'no'. This is not about capitulating to the demands of small children. It's about saying 'no' to people who try to persuade you to do things you simply can't afford.