"It is not about being cheap. It's about being smart and self-sufficient," says journalist Pia Catton, co-author with Califia Suntree of the new book "Be Thrifty: How to Live Better with Less."
By being creative you can cut your food bills, cut your credit card debt and even cut your own hair, say Catton and Suntree. Doing-it-yourself is the secret -- from economically preparing favorite foods to fixing things around the house and even to saving on such creature comforts as beauty supplies, vacations and entertainment.
Here are some of their suggestions to help you become more frugal:
Start at Home
There are several ways to lower your monthly maintenance bills. Start by adjusting your thermostat, keeping appliances off and weatherproofing your windows. Buying a toolbox and tackling small-scale household jobs can save money otherwise spent on a handyman.
Perhaps the most money can be saved on groceries. Search for more economical cuts of beef or pork and repurpose ingredients like rice and vegetables to stretch your dollar while keeping meals interesting. You even can use basic household items instead of big-brand detergents and cleaners.
Cosmetics and beauty are a billion dollar industry, but that doesn't mean you need to spend a fortune to stay beautiful. You can use organic alternatives like avocado skin care or egg-based hair products. Eliminate expensive monthly gym expenses by putting together a home-based workout or outdoor cardio routine.
You even can convert your home into a spa, avoiding the expenses associated with pricey spa treatments. With some oatmeal and honey cleanser and lavender massage oil you're in business. Ask your significant other to become your massage therapist and then reciprocate.
Work with the Family
Long-term budgeting benefits can be gained by incorporating your family, particularly teaching children about sensible living. "It is possible to raise children to be thrifty in the era of credit cards, cell phones and instant everything," says Suntree. "Resisting the urge to buy, buy, buy will help."
Nobody is suggesting children are inexpensive, but little things like making your own baby food can save you up to $400 a year. And embracing simple things like hand-me-downs and family game or movie nights at home also can go a long way in curbing needless spending.
For more tips on saving money in your daily life, read "Be Thrifty," available in bookstores or at www.workman.com.
With a 2009 Gallup poll finding that 59 percent of respondents prefer saving to spending, being frugal is particularly popular today. Tackling a few simple lifestyle changes is the best way to get started.