Tighten the belt in 2010

Here are a few ideas for a spending detox. The value is not the money you save but the lessons you learn about your spending habits. A time-out on spending also might also highlight the difference between needs and wants, which is fundamental if you want your spending to match your priorities.

Food: Cut your grocery bills by using what you have. Sound silly? Take stock of your pantry and freezer and be shocked at all the forgotten fish sticks, rice and tomato soup. Plan meals around those items. If you have a large food cache, you might have to buy only perishables, such as bread, milk and lettuce.

Also, look at the weekly sales advertisement from the supermarket. After your hiatus, can you make a habit of stockpiling sale items? And resolve to try at least one store brand a week. They're cheaper and, often, good quality.

Clothing: Buy no clothing, even if it's on sale. Buying clothing on sale doesn't save near as much as not buying at all. "A fiscal fast is the perfect opportunity to empty out your closet and rediscover all those terrific garments you've forgotten about," writes Jeff Yeager in his book The Ultimate Cheapskate's Road Map to True Riches.

Visit a thrift store or consignment shop to see what's available. Is there anything you could see yourself wearing? Can you buy clothes of a higher quality than you could afford to buy new?