11 ways to save money now

Don't let this recession keep you down. Grab the opportunity to build a stronger portfolio, cut the fat from your budget, and give yourself a head-to-toe fiscal makeover.

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10. Be part of society's safety net
Even Adam Smith knew that taking an interest in the "fortunes of others," as capitalism's leading thinker put it, can bring you a glow you can't get from merely accumulating your own fortune. Studies have shown Smith was right.

Volunteer work on behalf of those less well-off than you costs nothing, connects you with others, burnishes your résumé, and reminds you just how lucky you are to have whatever it is you have - even if it is worth 40% less than before the bear market. And, oh yeah, helping others is the right thing to do.

Before you choose a charity, think about your passions, where help is most needed in your community, and what type of work might polish your job-related skills. To find inspiration for charities that need you but also fit your needs, check out CharityNavigator.org.

That said, skip those big charity balls. It turns out that how happy you are with what you have depends a lot on just who you're comparing yourself to. These sorts of invidious comparisons can cost you actual money without your even realizing it (see No. 7).

NEXT: Start your own "working capital" fund
Last updated May 08 2009: 10:58 AM ET
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