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A few ways to embrace your inner frugality…

Let’s own up to it: Americans are true consumers. After we get all our basics covered, we still want a little extra wiggle room for that mobile phone, those boots, these couple extra features on the car. It’s in our culture, and that’s OK. However, if we can learn to save in small ways every day, we can still have our sundae-with the cherry on top. Here are some ways to get started:

Focus on finances. Consolidate debt to a lower-interest loan and pay it off as soon as you can. Also, get organized with regular bill paying so you can pay on time and avoid late fees. Try your bank’s free online bill pay or set up recurring deductions.

Eat out less. Cooking dinner at home saves serious cash, as does brown bagging it most days for lunch at the office. That goes for the daily coffee habit, too. Make it a latte five days a week and you’ve blown $20 you could put to better use. Buy good coffee beans, grind them and make a surprisingly tasty cup of Joe at home.

Comparison shop. Don’t buy on a whim-or pay full price. Chances are you can find a product you like for cheaper online or uncover a coupon to help cover costs.

Go generic. Yes, there are some items where’s it’s always worth buying the good stuff-syrup, anyone? But often generics taste just fine and get the job done while saving money. Start by shifting a portion of your list to generics.

Carpool. Gas is a greenback guzzler. Whenever you can, carpool to school or work, cut back on unnecessary trips and try public transportation. Or look into bike commuting and get some exercise on your way.

Reuse regularly. Use extra grocery bags for small trashcan liners or wash food containers for kids craft projects and household storage. This mindset can extend to all areas of your life: Borrow books from the library or rent them online, and try consignment stores or Goodwill for amazing deals on everything from work attire to kids clothing.

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