Slash Costs to Survive a Tough Economy's 9 ways to cut monthly expenses

SAN MATEO, Calif., Nov. 26, 2008 – In a season where economic gloom seems never-ending, many Americans are aiming to clamp down on spending -- and Ethan Ewing, president of free online consumer portal, has some specific suggestions for where individuals and families can cut costs now.  

Ewing's nine suggestions include: 

1.  Cut the cable cord. Eliminating cable TV can easily save $50 a month. In a downturn, that is enough to fill the gas tank, pay the electric bill or buy groceries. Do be aware, however, that digital TV goes into effect in February 2009. Those who have only an analog TV will need to buy a converter box. After Jan. 1, coupons were available at ( for a $40 coupon that will bring the converter box cost to around $10.

2. Go to basic phone service. Eliminate the bells and whistles -- texting, data service, ringtones, music, voice mail, caller ID -- from home and cell phone services to save $20 to $100 per month. If you can, keep one cell phone only for emergencies and share it among family members. Choose a pay-as-you-go plan to save more. Then, keep only one home phone line. Or eliminate the land line and use a basic cell phone for all calls.

3.  Skip the Internet. If you do not require Internet service at home (say, for work, some school needs or emergencies), you may be able to eliminate your Internet connection and use the free service at a library or café. In addition, the average American is online about 26 hours per month. Cutting out aimless surfing could free up hours for other activities.

4.  Get to know the library better. The public library is no dusty repository of boring tomes -- today, it is full of books as well as magazines, cookbooks, movies, graphic novels, TV shows, fitness DVDs, music and more. If the local library does not carry something you need, ask about interlibrary loan (ILL) to borrow materials from a library elsewhere.

5.  Buy used. Many items -- from clothing to ski boots to books to furniture -- are available used. Check thrift stores, sites like eBay or Craigslist, or yard sales. Often, gently used goods sell for as little as 10 percent of the original retail value. Shop regularly, take advantage of coupons and discount days, and bargain where possible to get the best deals.

6. Barter. Evaluate what skills you have that might be valuable to others and trade instead of paying someone. Can you sew curtains for a handy repair person who can help fix your washing machine? Will a neighbor babysit if you watch her house and pet while she goes on vacation? Think creatively and build stronger connections while saving money.

7.  Buy in bulk. Bulk buying might cost more at the outset, but over time it will save you big bucks (as long as you buy only items you truly need). Purchase bulk volumes at a warehouse club or even with a "case discount" at a local retailer. Check prices on, where customers can save as much as 15 percent by subscribing for a frequent purchase (think toilet paper) to be shipped to you on a regular basis. Before you buy, however, compare prices on a per-ounce or per-square-foot basis to be sure you are getting a better deal -- not just more of a product.

8. Think before you replace something. If an appliance, accessory or other household item breaks, refrain from immediately replacing it. Will your hair look fine without a new flat iron? You could save $30 (and some time). Can the vacuum cleaner be repaired? A new band or gear could help you avoid a $100 purchase. 

9. Pick up extra cash. Spread the word that you are willing to work, whether babysitting, shoveling snow, running errands or doing pet pick-up. If you have time for a job, try holiday retail or parking cars, which offer tips for extra cash. Or look into mystery shopping, making crafts to sell online or other quick jobs you can do at home.  

"When times are tough, every little bit helps," Ewing said. "It can be difficult to cut corners, but you might find that by trimming the fat, you find some additional peace of mind -- and that can be priceless."  

About (

Based in San Mateo, Calif., is a free one-stop portal where consumers can educate themselves about complex personal finance issues and comparison shop for products and services including credit cards, debt relief assistance, insurance, mortgages and other loans. As the online portal to Freedom Financial Network, LLC, the company has served more than 40,000 customers nationwide since 2002 while managing more than $1 billion in consumer debt. Its RSS feed is available at /news_releases/ holds the No. 257 spot on the Inc. 500 list for 2008, and the No. 3 spot on Entrepreneur Magazine’s Hot 100 list of the fastest-growing U.S. companies. also was named a finalist as “most innovative company” in the American Business Awards in 2008. Company co-founders and co-CEOs Andrew Housser and Brad Stroh were named to the Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal's "40 Under 40" list in 2008, and are recipients of the Northern California Ernst & Young 2008 Entrepreneur of the Year Award.