Homemakers, college students, and professionals alike are looking for ways to cut down their expenses. We've spent our tax refunds and economy stimulus checks, while gas prices and the cost of living continue to skyrocket. The amount of certain bills, like rent and tuition, are what they are. But there are other areas of a budget that can be trimmed significantly with a little effort and creativity.

Probably the easiest area to cut back in is entertainment. Whether you've a fetish for the New York Times Bestseller list, the latest blockbusters, or professional artists and performances, there are ways to still enjoy your interests at reduced cost. One of the keys to cutting entertainment costs is patience. A lot of what you pay for is instant gratification. The longer you wait before your purchase, the more the price will drop.

Instead of buying the hardback edition of the book you want on its release date, wait until a paperback edition comes out, or reserve a copy at the library. If you can hold off seeing new releases in the theater on a Friday night, consider matinees or waiting a few weeks until the movie you want goes to the dollar theaters. With the advent of Netflix and Red Box, you're sure to find other options for movies that fit your budget. Content yourself with the nosebleed section of your favorite opera or grass seats to your favorite artist, or choose to support community theater and local artists for a fraction of the cost.

Food is another expense that can be shaved with some effort. Planting and cultivating a garden can save big money on fresh produce costs. You also get the health benefits of less pesticides and nutrient loss from shipping and time on the shelf. If you don't have the time or space for a garden, you can still save on food by forming a dinner group with friends, family, roommates, or neighbors. Often it doesn't cost much more to double your dinner recipe, so make more than you need and share with a friend. When your friend reciprocates the next time, you can strengthen your relationship with her, get a night off from kitchen detail, and save a little cash.

Transportation can be hugely expensive. Not only do you have gas tanks to fill up, but regular oil changes, maintenance, and emergency repairs can really add up. By choosing a form of transportation other than your car, you will save on all of these things. Carpool, get a bus pass, walk, bike, even rollerblade! Added benefits include exercise for you and less pollution for the environment.

Your thinning pocketbook does not mean you have to give up hobbies, interests, and relationships. Continue to cultivate these things while using creativity and exercising a little patience. Family, friends, the environment, and your wallet will thank you for it.