Building an emergency fund

Eat well for less
20. Keep your eyes open for new restaurants in town. They typically offer grand opening specials.

21. Hunt for discounts. Check your local newspapers for advertisements of lunch and dinner specials, as well as early bird specials; look for coupons, too.

22. Cut back on your caffeine costs. Stop buying coffee at the chichi coffee joint down the street from work. Either bringing coffee from home in a thermos or brewing it in the break room will actually improve the quality of your morning shot of energy, as well as cut its cost dramatically. You can get 40 cups of coffee from a pound of beans. Even the gourmet ones can be purchased for $8 per pound. If you're spending $2 per day on coffee -- easy to do in most workplaces -- you'll go from spending $500 a year to about $50 by making your own. For the best savings (and flavor), buy whole beans and grind them yourself. Packaged ground coffee can cost a few dollars extra.

23. Bring your own bottle. Take cans of soda or bottled water to work instead of buying them out of the vending machine. Bottled water sells for 14 cents a bottle at a big-box grocery store, and soda is 16 cents a can (less for off-brands). Compare that to the 75 cents or more that you'll spend at the machine, and it's a no-brainer. You can go even further by cleaning your small plastic water bottles and replenishing them with drinking water from a gallon jug. (It's an environmentally friendly move, too.)

Entertain yourself on the cheap
24. Have fun staying home. Tell friends to each bring over a dish and host a potluck, game or movie night.

25. Read not, waste not. Cancel subscriptions to magazines and newspapers you haven't been reading. Or see if the publication has an online version you can access for free or less than a printed copy.

26. Evaluate your cable package. Do you really need 300-plus channels? Do you have time to watch those movie channels you're paying a premium price for? You can always rent movies when you want to watch a particular flick. Switch to basic cable and save a bundle each month.

27. Rent movies economically. Either cut down the number of times you rent movies or try an online rental service that charges a flat rate each month to rent a certain number of movies. Shop around to find the best deal that suits your needs. If you buy movies, check out the "previewed" movies section at the video rental store, which offers previously viewed DVDs at a discount. You might find the same movie at a better price, or get deals if you're buying several at a time.

28. Visit the library. Besides books, you can borrow movies, music CDs and even exercise videos from the library. Check the selection available at your local library and keep yourself entertained for free.

-- Posted: July 23, 2007

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