The U.S. is facing its worst recession in a generation. So, what does that mean for you? It means it's time for some serious penny-pinching.

Thriftiness is the name of the game in tough economic times like these. If you want to survive this sagging economy, you'll have to play the role of the miserly money micro-manager and keep track of every red cent.

Here are four ways to stay tightfisted and pennywise during this recession:

#1: Save Without A Budget
You read that right: without a budget. While it's an extremely effective way for some people to manage their money, budgets don't work for everyone. For many, budgeting isn't merely unpleasant – it's downright futile. That's because some folks set up budgets only to break them time and again. (You don't need a degree to understand your money, begin saving and pay down debt. Check out Top 5 Budgeting Questions Answered.)

If the mere thought of a budget sends you running for the hills, just say no. Instead, as soon as you receive your paycheck, deposit a set portion into a savings account. Use the remainder to pay for your monthly living expenses. If you don't have that extra money burning a hole in your pocket or in an easily accessible checking account, you'll be much less likely to spend it. In the meantime, your savings will continue to grow each month.

#2: Put A HALT To Shopping
Let's say as you stroll up to the front door of your favorite store, you're feeling a little angry. Perhaps your mother-in-law left an obnoxious message on your cell phone that was enough to make your blood boil or maybe you're just annoyed by the irritating music blasting from the strip mall speakers. (Find out how to avoid six of the worst vender ploys this holiday shopping season. Read Sneaky Strategies That Fuel Overspending.)

HALT! Remove your hand from that revolving door handle, turn around and walk back to your car. Experts say if you're feeling hungry, angry, lonely or tired you should avoid the shopping center like a swine flu-ridden farmhouse.

The acronym HALT (Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired) is commonly used in substance abuse programs. Addicts are taught to be extremely cautious when they are feeling any of these four emotions because they run the risk of a relapse. The same rule applies to every day shoppers. If you are hungry, angry, lonely or tired, you're more likely to slip into a spending binge that would make Britney Spears blush.

When you find yourself in one of these states, put the shopping spree on hold and try to deal directly with the cause of your emotions - even if it means returning your mother-in-law's call. (Discover more ways to keep your shopping urges in check by reading Five Money-Saving Shopping Tips.)

#3: Discontinue Buyer's Remorse
Every time you catch a glimpse of that expensive treadmill you used once before turning it into a clothes-drying line, you probably feel a pang of guilt. What about that fancy carrot chopper you just had to have - the one that's still in the box collecting dust in the basement? And let's not forget the full-body "snuggle" blanket you ordered on a whim only to decide it's just too ridiculous-looking to wear around the house.

Everyone is guilty of it. We've all convinced ourselves in a weak moment that we absolutely had to have an item only to suffer from severe buyer's remorse later. (Shopping from the comfort of your couch has major benefits - and some unpleasant side effects. Don't miss Shopping Online: Convenience, Bargains And A Few Scams.)

Instead of agonizing over your silly, spontaneous purchases, try to learn from your mistakes. Sit down with your family and do an "audit" of all the harebrained purchases you've made over the past year. Dig out your receipts, bank statements and credit card bills and point out all the things you've bought that you wish you hadn't.

You may start to notice some patterns like every time you stay up past your bedtime watching late-night TV, you end up ordering some absurd item that's "not available in stores!" This process can help you and your family avoid poor purchase choices in the future, putting an end to buyer's remorse once and for all.

#4: Take A Spending Break
When was the last time you went an entire day without spending a dime? If you can't recall, it may be time for a fiscal fast. As painful as it may seem, it's financially healthy to take a few days off from spending money every so often.

Although it may be difficult to keep your wallet on lock-down for two or three days, it could be well worth the effort. (For more tips to curb your spending, be sure to check out A Day Without Spending, A Lifetime's Worth Of Lessons.)

Not only will you save a bundle with these tips, but you may start to realize just how much money you spend on things you simply don't need. For example, you may discover the water from the office water fountain is just as thirst-quenching as your fancy bottled water. Plus, you'll find more creative ways to have fun that don't involve spending bundles of money like gazing at the stars with your spouse or dressing in your snuggle blanket and chopping carrots in your fancy food processor.

Related Articles
  1. Investing

    What’s Holding Back the U.S. Consumer

    Even as job growth has surged and gasoline prices have plunged, U.S. consumers are proving slow to respond and repair their overextended balance sheets.
  2. Economics

    A Look at Greece’s Messy Fiscal Policy

    Investigate the muddy fiscal policy, tax problems, and inability to institute austerity that created the Greek crises in 2010 and 2015.
  3. Economics

    How Do Asset Bubbles Cause Recessions?

    Understand how asset bubbles often lead to deep, protracted recessions. Read about historical examples of recessions preceded by asset bubbles.
  4. Professionals

    Holding Out for Capital Gains Could Be a Mistake

    Holding stocks for the sole purpose of avoiding short-term capital gains taxes may be a mistake, especially if all the signs say get out.
  5. Investing News

    What Shook the U.S. Stock Market Today?

    What was looking as a decent year for US Stock market has suddenly gone off track as the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged 531 points in the week ending August 23, 2015.
  6. Professionals

    Why Investors Should Consider Cash Right Now

    With so many market watchers thinking that the current stock rally is getting long in the tooth, investors might considering upping their cash holdings.
  7. Stock Analysis

    How GM Keeps on Truckin'

    Following a giant bailout and a giant IPO, the new GM is carried by sales of its giant trucks. But is it profitable?
  8. Investing News

    Does the Empire State Index Signal a Recession?

    This morning, the New York Federal Reserve Bank reported the worst numbers in six years for its August 2015 Empire State Manufacturing Survey, indicating not only a potential economic slowdown ...
  9. Economics

    Is The EU Holding Germany Back?

    As Germany agrees to initiate bailout talks with Greece once again, could all of the EU's economic turmoil result in Germany being better off alone?
  10. Term

    The Legacy of Basel I

    Basel I refers to a set of international banking rules enacted in 1988 by the Basel Committee on Bank Supervision.
  1. Regional Asset Liquidation Agreement ...

    An agreement between an asset manager and the Federal Deposit ...
  2. The New Deal

    A series of domestic programs designed to help the United States ...
  3. Accelerated Resolution Program ...

    A program designed to reduce the time and cost of resolving failed ...
  4. Asset Liquidation Agreement (ALA)

    A contract between the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation ...
  5. Capital Loss Coverage Ratio

    The difference between an asset’s book value and the amount received ...
  6. Gross Cash Recovery (GCR)

    The gross cash colloctions expected over the remaining life of ...
  1. How does the risk of investing in the industrial sector compare to the broader market?

    There is increased risk when investing in the industrial sector compared to the broader market due to high debt loads and ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. How can I hedge my portfolio to protect from a decline in the retail sector?

    The retail sector provides growth investors with a great opportunity for better-than-average gains during periods of market ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. What is the correlation between term structure of interest rates and recessions?

    There is no question that interest rates have enormous macroeconomic importance. Many economists and analysts believe the ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. Why should an investor in the retail sector consider the Consumer Confidence Index?

    Investors in the retail sector should consider the Consumer Confidence Index, or CCI, because it measures how consumers feel ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. Which type of retailers tend to perform best during weak periods in the economy?

    Retail is a broad investment sector comprising many different market segments, such as automotive, building supply, grocery ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. What category of retailers will perform most strongly when the economy is doing well?

    When the economy is doing well, the market segments that perform best are volatile segments with products and services that ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Trading Center

You are using adblocking software

Want access to all of Investopedia? Add us to your “whitelist”
so you'll never miss a feature!