When we set out on this journey of debt reduction, I had no idea how much we would have to scrimp and save, even more so now that we bought a house. Don't worry, we aren't living in poverty, but there certainly is no room for shopping trips to the mall, spa treatments (not that I did much of those anyway), or fancy dinners out (fancy for us is less than $30!). One thing I've tried to do more and more is to take advantage of are the resources around us. Recently, a friend from college came over to look at our yard and give us her professional opinion. She is a landscape architect and is planning to provide us with a long term vision for our yard as well as tips on pruning, drainage, plant types etc. Best part about it... she's free! Depending on how in-depth her plans go, we may pay for her services eventually, but for now her consultation is free. Another example of using our resources is buying furniture from people who have nicer things than you. If they are looking for an upgrade, chances are that their cast offs are a good thing for you. We have gotten a free desk, coffee table and $130 leather loveseat this way, just by asking.
Another example of using resources around us... tax preparation. For the past few years, we've used a family friend for our taxes. Our rate is great, and we've received a pretty decent tax refund each time. My point is, that chances are the people around you have something great to offer. Whether it's an extra couch, or some free advice, I suggest you ask around for help! No, I don't mean begging and pleading on someone's doorstep, but there's nothing wrong with being smart, and calling on those who have different talents than yours.
Finally, something that has saved us money is coupons. No, I'm not the crazy coupon lady on Extreme Couponing, but every little bit helps. Even if it means switching brands for an extra $1 of savings, it's worth it, just to apply to loans. Yes, I've become that person who wants to squeeze every dollar into debt that I can... because I'm tired of this black cloud hanging over me!