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The mere thought of extreme couponing makes my blood pressure go up. All of the counting, calculating, shopping, and storing makes my heart start racing, and not at all in a good way! But the thought of spending money that doesn’t necessarily have to be spent gives me that uneasy, guilty feeling that is hard to shake.  Is there a happy medium? Is it possible to strike a balance of being thrifty, but still living a normal life? I think so.

The main thing to remember is that little changes make a big difference. Thrifty Thursday is all about those little changes. Here are three tips to help you begin cutting costs without going crazy.

1. Meal Plan. I can’t say this enough. Eating at home saves so much money, and planning each meal at the beginning of the week makes a big difference. You’ll save gas money by not making multiple trips to the grocery store, and you’ll avoid the temptation to eat out just because you didn’t have a chance to stop at the store on the way home! How many nights do you eat a planned meal at home each week? Try adding just one extra night in this week. If you’re having trouble deciding what to cook, let this recipe give you a little inspiration!

2. Before you make any other-than-grocery purchases this week, let your fingers do the shopping.  Take a moment to sit down at the computer, compare prices, and search for coupon codes. GeoQpons is a great resource, and if you’re an iPhone user, download the GeoQpons app to stay connected to an expansive list of deals from stores all over the country. Imagine how this adds up over the course of the month… and then over the course of a year!

3. Just because you’re trying to save money doesn’t mean you can’t spend a little on the non-essentials. Besides, sometimes it’s the “non-essentials” that keep us sane – so doesn’t that make them pretty important? They are to me! Just take the less expensive route. For home decorating, for instance, choose a DIY project, and you don’t have to feel guilty at all! Take a look at this post to get a little inexpensive inspiration!