I've been on a low, fixed income for years-many as a single mom. I don't have time to keep up with all the threads, but will be glad to answer emails or post here. Here's how I live.
*Coupons are great, but I've not had the patience-and I've found they aren't always a bargain.
*Sometimes generic foods actually taste better and, lately, they seem to have more in the packet than the name brand. (Great Value mashed potatoes and oatmeal for example.)
*Having a vegetable garden is great, but not free either, if you are in a place where you have to water. You can't beat the garden for fresh veggies, but buying canned ones on sale just may be cheaper than gardening and canning yourself.
*Trading seeds makes sense, if you don't usually use a whole packet.
*Dehydrating is great & saves space.
*Herbs (especially fresh) can dress up the plainest (and usually cheapest) ingredients.
*Squirrel meat has a nutty flavor and fits nicely in a crockpot. ; )
*I rarely drink anything other than (filtered) water.
*I eat less than 1/2 lb. of meat per week.
*I don't cook much, but do bake my own bread.
*I rarely eat out more than once a week.
*I wear my clothes for several days at a time.
*I buy washable (not dry-cleanable) clothes.
*I wear slippers in the house, have a pair of old shoes for working outdoors, and have a couple of pairs of shoes for wearing 'out'.
*I don't believe a pair of shoes is worth more than $30-to me at least-unless it has arch support and maybe gold in the toe!
*I bought my kids' clothes and shoes one size too big so they lasted longer. They had one coat and one or two (cheap) pairs of shoes. I didn't buy popular or 'name' brands.
*I do all my errands at once-usually once a week.
*I don't rent videos or do pay-per-view, but I do have satellite tv.
*'Going out' means an inexpensive dinner, maybe once a week.
*I order a la carte & drink water.
*I go where I can order from the kids' menu.
*If a place is expensive (to me-$10-12 for a plate), I split with a friend.
*I buy clothes on sale. Sears.com has good clearance prices on nice clothes.
*I use shampoo, conditioner & soap sparingly, rather than lavishly, and I empty the containers completely.
*I usually shower/shampoo every other day, unless I'm working outside, etc.
*I have an idea in mind of what something is worth and do my best to wait until I can find it at that price.
*I've learned where to get the best prices-almost always it's Walmart. Kmart is now a lot more expensive than Walmart, as is Target.
*Some great bargains can be found at a real 'Dollar Store'. (Great for spoiling the grandkids cheaply!)
*I look at the unit price, beside the regular price, because manufacturers are cutting back on volume (11.5 ounces instead of 12) and being tricky with packaging (look closely at 3 sizes of Cocoa Puffs-the weights and prices are very different, but the package sizes are nearly identical).
*Buying a larger quantity is not always cheaper.
*When I shop online, I look for the clearance items and sales items first.
*I have a budget and try to stick with it. 'overspending' in one area is ok, it just means cutting back on something else.
*I know how much I plan to spend before I go out/shop.
*I try not to buy on impulse.
*If I see something I want, or need, and don't have the money-I wait until I do.
*I return items if I can't use them.
*I watch my checking account carefully to not incur overdraft fees.
*I seriously hunt for the best prices.
*I used to take my kids to fairs/carnivals-if they had free admission. We didn't buy a rides pass, but each could choose a few.
*I print on both sides of paper, and reuse paper.
*(When I could pay my credit cards) I paid them on time and didn't go over the limit.
I got in trouble with credit cards too, starting a business. I'm not perfect and don't do all the above things perfectly all the time. However, this is a way of life for me now-with about 30 years of practice.
Mostly, I am just conscious that my income is limited and try to get the best value for my dollar and choose what is most important to me.