The new year is almost upon us and I can hardly believe 2010 is in the books. Looking back over the last 12 months many things have changed in all walks of life: smartphones now rule the mobile world, the Saints won the Super Bowl (yes, those Saints) and the San Francisco Giants won the World Series for the first time since they left New York. What hasn’t changed all that much is the sluggish US economy and the fact that we need to take matters into our own hands as far as keeping more dollars in our pockets.

With all the economic indicators pointing towards a rough 2011, I started thinking about how I was going to save a few bucks, and thus pad our household budget this year. As I sat down with my pencil and calculator I realized this feat was going to be a bit more difficult than planned; what can I cut that hasn’t become a necessity, or that hasn’thow-to-make-a-budget been cut already?

With my career choice many of the gadgets are near musts to keep the blogging and reviewing aspect of my life a float. Cut Internet? Hardly. Land phone line has already been eliminated. Home Alarm System? The safety of your family is invaluable. Gym membership? What’s more important than good health? Television Programming? Yes! Yes! That’s it I will cut some programming. After doing that I save a total of about $12 a month. Obviously I need to come up with some more creative ideas.

Without cutting utilities how else could I do it? After some careful consideration I realized it’s not what you spend money on, but how you consume the resources that money is needed to buy. I figured I was spending upwards of $50 on lunch every week, and after talking to my wife I found she was doing the same thing. Now if we just brown bagged our lunch we could save a boatload of money, a conservative estimate would be $300 a month. Gas is a big expense, so if you plan your errands, and eliminate unnecessary trips, fuel costs will inevitably decrease. Eliminating a few nights out a month and spending that time watching movies with the family will not only save money, but builds stronger family bonds.

As much as the sluggish economy is a burden, we can take the opportunity to “cut the fat” and put some dollars back in our pockets that could just as well stay there when the economy recovers. Build a better budget, build better family bonds.

How will you cut costs in 2011? Do you think it will be a strain, blessing or both?