For years, financial gurus have been telling Americans to stop buying $5 Frappa Mocha Italiana Grande cups of coffee and start packing up a lunch instead of going out to eat. It’s not much help for those of us who don’t drink coffee or are already eating turkey sandwiches. City officials will tell you that Louisville hasn’t seen much of a “downswing” in the economy and housing market because we never had much of an “upswing” as cities like Las Vegas and coastal towns did. However, if you ask your average Louisvillian, their wallets may not be completely empty, but they are certainly a little lighter these days. Here are some tips to survive this downturn and save some money… and your sanity. -Get organized! It is impossible to know if you’re saving money or getting ahead when you don’t know where you’re starting from. Get your bills in front of you and know where your money is going. Your success in wealth building/saving money is completely up to you! Late fees and higher interest rates are all costly… and completely unavoidable! Sites like http://www.mint.com/ and http://quicken.intuit.com/ can help you get your finances in order, track your spending and remind you of when bills are due. -Keep your job. Work longer and harder… and keep your resume and portfolio up-to-date, just in case. -Caulk and weatherstrip the cracks in your house and weatherproof your windows by “shrinkwrapping” them with plastic. It isn’t pretty, but it saves money and energy! -Put gallon water jug in your toilet tank to make your tank seem "full" and keep water prices down. -Unplug appliances you’re not using. Even if an appliance is turned off, it still uses a small amount of energy if it’s plugged in. -Grow your own spices and vegetables. -Don’t speed, keep your tires inflated and schedule regular check ups for your car. A oil change, new tires or brake replacement is cheaper than a new car! -Try a week where you eat everything already in your refrigerator or stocked up in your cabinets. Or, go over your monthly grocery budget, cut it in half and only spend that amount. Get creative with coupons and make it a “competition”. Shopping: -Site that searches for the best deals on the internet and includes any coupon and promotional codes for stores like J Crew, REI and Staples to name a few: www.dealnews.com -Speaking of promotional codes, when buying anything online from pizza to clothes to office supplies, always google the site’s name, followed by “promotional code”. You’ll find codes for discounts from anything to a % off, to free shipping. - Regularly check out www.walgreens.com and www.riteaid.com for their rebate specials. After purchasing the rebated offers, many items like toothpaste, shampoo, makeup and lotion are free. -Try ebay or craigslist for new and used furniture. -$1 movie rentals at Red Box. You’ve seen them at McDonald’s and gas stations. Rent a new release for only a dollar, just make sure you get it back by 9 pm the next day. You can rent from any box and return to any other red box location. Free Samples & Coupon Sites: http://www.freestufftimes.com/ http://www.mysavings.com/default.asp You'd be surprised how many other people are going through the exact same things you and your family are. Some are better off, some are worse, but it always helps to know you're not alone. Be sure to read some community sites to get helpful tips and insights from regular folks too: http://blogs.moneycentral.msn.com/smartspending/default.aspx http://www.doughroller.net/ You may not see any actual money from the bailout, but you CAN be proactive in not needing a "bailout" of your own.