There have been times when I wanted a new outfit but didn't have much money, so I went to the general dollar or similar store and bought something. Then, it fell apart after three wear and washes, or lost it's shape, or shrunk to a ridiculous size, or faded, or something like that. So the money was pretty much wasted. That's what I call a false economy. I have done this countless numbers of times as I have gained weight and needed to move up a size. Well, I will never do it again. I would rather go to goodwill and buy a good brand that has been used, because it will last longer than a new cheap outfit.
I have found that it is better for me to save up a little for something at the 75% department store sale. Some of the discount chains have good stuff, but often there are reasons that the items have been passed on to the discount store. Often they are defective and so they don't wear well, or they fit goofy, and I don't like to waste my money on something I feel goofy in.
You don't have to completely go without any luxury items whatsoever just because you are on a strict budget. I have always found that the good brands really are better quality. So I find a pair of really good shoes at a fabulous price. Shoes are really important. You have to take good care of your feet, or you will end up with corns, and all manner of problems requiring the purcase of expensive treatments and even medical treatments. It is a false economy to save money when you hurt yourself in the process. It is possible to find good quality at low prices. The thrill is in the hunt.
And even though I have more money now than at other times in my life, I still refuse to pay retail for anything, or to change the habits I have formed of saving money on everyday things. For instance, the Dollar Tree is great for things like wrapping paper, greeting cards, baby lotion, windex, cotton balls, lip gloss, soap, and a large number of similar items. But, I have not been happy with food items there. I have gotten a lot of funny tasting stuff. Like chips that tasted like perfume, or cake mix that smelled like a noxious chemical, or extremely old chocolate that has been melted and looks disgusting. However, I have good luck on food items at the Dollar General. But I do most of my shopping at Wal Mart because they match all coupons and sale prices including dollar stores *there are some exceptions when it comes to buy this item - get another item free. For instance if another store advertises chicken on sale, bring the ad in and Wal Mart will honor it. That makes it easier to do all your shopping in one place, and I have found that Wal Mart's prices are consistently cheaper than other stores, even the Dollar General a lot of times. I also bank there. It saves me having to waste gas driving somewhere else. I do my shopping during odd hours when there isn't such a crowd. Then I save time - which is just as precious to me as money. And it's better for my health, because it isn't as stressful.
Of course I'm sure you all know about these little tricks: Use your grocery bags as trash bags (double up because sometimes they have a hole). To keep from having to use too many bags and running out - recycle, and use trash to hold trash. For instance fill your empty can with trash, don't throw it in the bag empty. Crush things that you can to conserve on space in the bag. You will use less bags and won't go through them as quickly. Of course you want to avoid putting any liquid in the trash bag, but if there is something that might leak, stick it in a box if you can, the cardboard will absorb the liquid so it won't get on the bottom of your garbage can, which would mean using soap and bleach and wasting water cleaning it out.
Recycle used envelopes from your mail, use them as note paper for writing to do lists on. Recycle paper from circulars by using them to wash the windows and mirrors with windex. They actually work better than paper towels. Buy the better paper towels, they go further and I even use them as wash rags around the Kitchen and bathroom, I use Viva. Yes they cost more, but they go further. Cheap paper towels are a false economy, they are less up front, but they are poor quality and they end up costing more in the long run because you have to use more of them to do the same job. Toilet paper - Do I have to mention why it's not worth it to buy cheap toilet paper. If you are sensitive like I am the side effects can be really bad!!
I have found for me, that I have to think of other things than the immediate price. What are the long-term costs. I think way down the road to how certain things can effect my health, I used to go through a lot of stress trying to beat the crowd at the sales where I've almost gotten into fist fights. And I think of saving time. It's important to remember the things that are most important - and besides my health, quality time with my family is important. If I am too obsessed with saving money, I can make them feel unimportant. So every now and then I will even let them buy what they really want, instead of what's on sale. But that is an extremely rare occasion. In fact I can count on my fingers the number of times I have let my two children have that luxury.
Love life and it will love you back.