Five years ago, I had decided that I was not going to shop for any new clothes (bargain or not!) for a whole year. I had already begun to reduce my clothing expenses by putting items away seasonally. In doing so I learned how much I had and noticed what I don't wear and many items got/get a new start. After awhile I got rid of what I absolutely will no longer wear. Storing clothes seasonally and cutting my shopping has saved money ($$100s of dollars) space and time and, has changed my attitude about what I "really need." This savings helped me buy a new washing machine and no need to spend money at the coin operated launderette!
Despite these achievements, expenses were still tight and three years ago, just before the New Year, even with this reduced spending and after paying housing, gas and utility I found I did not have much money left to save nor fully cover bills including my student loan. So at the start of the New Year, I determined that I would not eat out nor shop for groceries until I used up the food that was in my freezer, refrigerator and cupboard. For about 6 months I only had to buy milk, eggs and bread. Occasionally fresh fruits and vegetables. My average grocery bill as a single person dropped to just a few dollars few (i.e. $3-$5 dollars) every 2 or 3 weeks. Now, I have made it an annual tradition to celebrate my New Year by committing to limiting my purchases until I have cleared my freezer, frig. and cupboard. Not only did I save a lot of money, I actually ate healthier. Also, committing to cook and eat what had already been purchased and/or prepared made me a smarter shopper. I no longer buy what I don't eat and if I buy it I must eat it all. I learned creative recipes and am now a great "soup and stew chef"
Though due to these efforts, I was having more cash flow to work with, it was still tight. Also during this time I had/have a long-term plan. For the past few years I purposed to pay my bills on time and limited myself to only one credit card. I would periodically ask the credit card company to reduce my interest rate, it took about five years and being a "good customer" but we have gotten it dropped over time by 10%! (that's 10c on the dollar back in my pocket!). I would also use this card to purchase gas - which I need in order to get to work - and I earn points that would result in getting a check every year and I use it at a gas station that gave 5c off/gallon and with build up of points as much as 20c off/gallon!. However because of the cost for gas, this card built up even though I was making the payments (Thankfully gas is down tremendously).
Lastly, I scheduled into my phone all of my pay dates and scheduled bills due dates, I now pay them on to, saving the cost of late fees - which is anywhere from 15- 35 dollars.
Now with an improved credit, I applied for a 0 interest card, transferred the funds and paid it to zero, saving interest and freeing up more cash flow. I also was able to refinance my car to half the cost and same length of time, giving me more money to work with.I now have more cash flow, am building up a nest egg and I am paying all of my bills on time and most in full!