I recently read "How to Survive Without a Salary" by Charles Long.
Here is a man who successfully raised a family without a full-time job. He would work odd-jobs, and by paying attention to where his money was going he made the most of his resources.
The chapter on auctions is a fascinating introduction to the varied world of auctions, and his advice seems (to my uninitiated self) quite reasonable.
But here's my takeaway, and an example of its application: Six Steps to Examining Needs
1. What is the problem? I need transportation to get to work.
2. Who needs the solution? I need the solution; not my co-workers or neighbors or the "Joneses"
3. What would change the need? Quitting my job.
4. How long will the need last? Until I retire.
5. What are the alternatives? Buy a car, take the bus, ZipCar, use a bicycle.
6. What are the costs? Remember maintenance, permits, taxes, and other "forgotten" costs.
And then, here's a hilariously golden idea--PROCRASTINATE! Decide, and then wait to act on it. This can sometimes minimize or eliminate costs.
For example, I wanted some baskets and bins. I waited several months, working with free cardboard boxes and paper bags, until last week my neighbor generously thought of me in her preparations to move. Now I have two baskets, a small tote, a three-drawer cart, and two recycling bins!
No money left my pocket, and I saved her a trip to the thrift store.