(I just posted “I’m going there: Ideas for saving on healthcare” for more suggestions on how to save.)

With Christmas only six weeks away, it’s that time of year when many desire to create the “Most Wonderful Time of the Year” experience within their homes, but instead, that first holiday credit card bill occurs. The pondering of just how much debt is worthwhile for this Christmas season begins.

I’ve spent years sharing simple ideas and tips here for cutting one’s budget and saving money, but many of them center around the Tortoise and the Hare mentality of “slow and steady win the race.”

You remember my big reveal of the Front Porch that took 17 Years to Build?  It still gets me all emotional when I just think about it. If haven’t read that post, it’s an encouragement because slow and steady finally won out! Yes, we finally conquered the long road of unemployment,  built our emergency fund up enough by giving every dollar a job, and we were finally able to make this dream come true.

While I believe this, and see its provisions daily in our own family’s financial circumstances, what if we could slash our budget immediately and with more than just a dollar here and there?

What if you could put an additional $500 in your pocket within the month?

Does it sound too good to be true? Just give it a try!

I know these ideas work because all of them have been  confirmed by my interactive Facebook page readers. When I was preparing for my 80% Living and Loving it workshop, I asked them for their best tried and true strategies for putting cash in their pocket immediately.  I loved every comment and this list represents ideas that showed an immediate difference in cash flow.

1. Save on Food

This sentiment came through over and over again. Outside a mortgage, this is most families #1 expense – the monthly food bill. It’s the budget item we interact with on a daily basis and the one we have the most control over, yet the one aspect that is the most monotonousness to slash.

It takes work and while cutting coupons slowly whittles a budget, I have hundreds of food tips for saving money without using coupons. Start there! Over 185 people have chimed in with comments on my “What is Your Monthly Food Budget? Post. Some of the answers are older, but what’s fascinating is all the different ways that people attack the food budget. Lots of food for thought and encouragement knowing we are all on this journey together.

During my September  No Spend Pantry Challenge Month, I saved over $500 by getting super creative and using up what I had on hand. While this may not be the month to start with the holidays around the corner, the premise is the same. Start now and take this week to stay out of the grocery store. Use up what you have and pocket the savings in cash. Resist the drive through and delay eating out. It adds up so quickly!

2.  Focus on your Insurance policies

For years, we never thought twice about our home owner and car insurance policies. Our bills and statements came and we just paid them, no questions asked.

Now we wonder, “What were we thinking? How did we let that money slip through our fingers?”

Old policies cost us cold, hard cash! Learn from our insurance lesson.

Sole loyalty to only  insurance provider without checking into options is a huge mistake.

Right now, competition in both the home and car insurance fields are at an all time high.  Make your money work for you and shop around with an independent agent who isn’t tied to one insurance company. The assumption that your company will always give you the lowest rate is naive and too many are content with keeping status quo. They may honor that loyalty, but don’t assume.

“Four in 10 auto and homeowner’s insurance customers have had policies with their current company for more than 10 years,” states the Dave Ramsey blog, and that is not helping put money in your pocket.

With four teenagers (yes, three teen boys with licenses – gasp), we had to really take a harsh look at our car insurance policies. Since we drive used cars, we immediately raised our deductibles, which saved us hundreds.

Since our sons’ have always driven famous “Hunk ‘O Junks, we went with only liability insurance for them. (You must read our “It doesn’t matter what you think…well, kind of” story if you ever have woes about driving a second hand vehicle. Our hunk o’junk will make you feel better about yours.:))

Long term, this was well worth it.  We saved cash immediately and were even sent a refund check just by a simple phone call.

I was shocked at how many of my readers chimed in agreeing with this idea about insurance. Many saved hundreds with one call. Our economy is in a state where we have to take control over these aspects of our finances, and while this doesn’t sound like a fun way to spend your next hour, just do it.

Be proactive!

Find out if an independent insurance agent can help save you money and give you peace of mind about your insurance coverage. As you know I’m a huge believer in Dave Ramsey’s principles and I trust and highly recommend their insurance Endorsed Local Providers (ELPs) for advice.

3. Luxury Cuts

Yes, these are the most painful. Those steps that most of us don’t want to take, but if you are committed to creating cash flow, they may be necessary. Pair any of these together and $500 can be in your pocket over the next few months.

Cable – a large majority of my readers canceled their premium cable channels, but I was shocked to find how many have completely canceled ALL their cable and have gone to completely online viewing with programming through Hulu, Netflix and others, along with a nice HD antenna.

Have you done this? I’d love to hear what you are doing! (Edited to add: Read through the comments for testimonials on how this is working.)

Land line and Cell Phone coverage – if you are still paying for a land line, you are paying for two duplicate services and it will be well worth the effort to check into cutting the land line. Those dollars add up.

Have you looked at your cell coverage lately? Do you need unlimited data? Even with my full time job working online and using my cell phone often, I still have limited data, calls and texting. (And yes, I even saved more when I was on a prepaid phone up until 1 1/2 ago.)

Call your wireless provider to see what coverage you can eliminate. If you are anywhere near the end of your plan, negotiate. They want your business and they will work to keep you.  You’d be surprised at how easy it is.  From a parenting perspective, significantly drop your children’s’ wireless plan. When we realized the draw and time temptation that unlimited data had on our first son when he got a cell phone, we immediately slashed it and never looked back.

Speaking from personal experience, these money saving ideas work, and they are immediate!!

Take a few minutes, jot down a tangible goal of what you will do with that $500, and get to work.

You can do it!

Let’s review the first steps of getting cash in your pocket immediately? Start whittling debt immediately,  call your wireless provider, stay away from the stores, and start debating whether you can get rid of some of those luxury items. Baby Steps!

I can’t wait to hear what you do!! (Make sure you read the comments for other great ideas.)

What would you do with $500 this month? If you speak it, it makes it more realistic!

We’ve spent years adding our $500 + $500 + $500 months together. Here are just a few more money saving articles:

The Porch That Took 17 Years to Build - an inspiring story for anyone who wants their dream home

The Front Porch that took 17 years to build (and how we lived off this front porch cash fund twice.)

We will have four kids in college at the same time. How we are saving and paying cash for college

5 Ways to Save and Pay Cash for College

Save Money on Your Next Car Purchase

(I’m grateful for the sponsorship of Dave Ramsey’s ELP program for encouraging me to share our financial journey.)