Once regular bills are listed and prioritized, you can see where expenses may be trimmed. For example, do you really need a cell phone and a landline? Is cable a necessity or can it at least be honed down to a less expensive package?
Check how much you spend at the grocery store and look for ways to cut costs in that area. Try some store brands, clip coupons on regularly used items, and watch advertised specials. Plan a menu, make a grocery list, and stick to it.
"Sometimes we get stuff and don't realize we already have it," she said. "Clean out cabinets so you know what you have."
Tracking expenses can help plug leaks. She suggests writing down all expenditures and then taking stock to see where you are willing to make adjustments.
For example, if you are spending $5 a day on a doughnut and coffee, write it down. If you pick up takeout for dinner or eat lunch out, add it to the daily log. Cooking and eating at home or packing a lunch can add up to more cash in your pocket.
Shopping clearance racks can save money on everything from clothes and gift purchases to linens and holiday cards or wrap. But remember it is not a deal if buying it requires putting it on a credit card and paying interest.
A good way to save money is to have it automatically taken out of your paycheck and placed in a separate account so it is there for emergencies. She noted that financial institutions also would work out plans to move money from checking to savings on a regular basis.
And it isn't too soon to think about the next holiday season with a Christmas club account to avoid going into debt for gifts in 2013.
Contact writer Charlotte Ferrell Smith at charlo...@dailymail.com or 304-348-1246.