Life always has its ups and downs and finances are no exception. There are many ways in which a lack of financial stability can come upon us, entirely through untoward circumstances. The result is that when finances get tight, you've got to make some adjustments in lifestyle to make ends meet.

If you've lost your job or are faced with a sudden and gigantic hospital debt, it's no time to give up. It's time to get creative. Finding ways to cut your expenses while retaining a dignified life can be a daunting proposition. Living cheap is an art, if you will - just come along as we look at some ways you can save lots of money on a daily basis.

Living cheaply needn't be a painful state. Many of us are so used to thoughtlessly consuming, we're unaware of our wastefulness. Energy costs huge, but a careful analysis of our use can save hundreds or thousands of dollars each year. Start with a look at your home energy costs. There are lots of cheap fixes to curb energy costs. Inspect doors, windows and air conditioners for proper weatherstripping. The rule of thumb is that if you can slide a paper envelope under a door or through a window edge, you're paying for nothing but air loss every day, to the tune of $100-200 per year in an average sized home. Be sure to check your basement for heat and water pipes that might allow air leakage.

If your water heater isn't covered with an insulating blanket, get it done pronto! Check your temperature setting as well. Reducing the setting from 130( to 120( and insulating your water heater can save 2-3% on yearly heating costs.

Air conditioners are notorious culprits of heat loss. There are inexpensive covers for winter use that will save you big-time on your power bill.

Inspect heater filters regularly - at least every couple of months. If it looks gummed up, replace it and save!

Beyond energy gobblers, take a look at unnecessary household purchases. For example, do you know that rubbing alcohol works just as well as an expensive bottled window cleaner and leaves no streaks. Vinegar and newspaper is another old-time window cleaner. How about paper towels? This expense can be virtually wiped out by using washable wipes sold in packs. Look through your cleaning products, many of which are enemies to the art of living cheap!

Now we come to food waste. Invest a few bucks in a set of plastic freezer containers. Save leftovers, even small amounts. Dedicate a section of the frig to leftovers. Date mark each and use them! That bit of corn can add body and color to a soup or pasta dish. We're all guilty of this sort of waste.

Now that you've gone through your house with a checklist and remedied the offenders, you're saving money to the tune of at least a thousand bucks and proudly living cheap!

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