Image: Money © Jose Luis Pelaez, Inc., Blend Images, Corbis

Following the fits and starts in the U.S. economy is all well and good, but when it comes right down to it, your own personal economy has its ups and downs, too. There are bound to be times when you realize: "Hey, this isn't gonna work. I'm gonna have to cut back somewhere!"

What would you cut back on first? A recent poll suggests we have some definite priorities when it comes to deciding what to keep in our budgets.

The unscientific poll, which ran on MSN Money in June, asked readers what they'd be willing to do (or do without) to save $500.

The poll's choices included eating out less, eliminating cable TV service, clipping coupons, taking a second job, holding a yard sale and canceling Internet access. Of the 10,191 responses, 38% chose "all of the above," suggesting that many of us see multiple opportunities to save money on our everyday expenses while bringing in additional funds.

For those who focused their savings strategy on a single item, dining out was the first on the chopping block. Nearly one-third of respondents said they would start bringing lunch to work or school each day or eating more dinners at home.

But we're not giving up our wired lifestyle. Only 1% would simply cut Internet service to save money.

Poll results

Limiting dining out was the biggest single action respondents would take, but it wasn't the only one that got a reaction. Let's look at all the choices:

  • Bring my lunch to work or school every day or eat at home more often: 32%.
  • Cancel my cable TV: 12%.
  • Clip coupons: 6%.
  • Take a second job: 6%.
  • Hold a yard sale: 5%.
  • Cancel my Internet access: 1%.
  • All of the above: 38%.

Looking to cut expenses, meet a goal or save for a rainy day? How much could you save? Take a look.

Save big bucks by brown-bagging

If you enjoy lunches out with your co-workers or taking your family out to eat every weekend, money is slipping through your fingers -- and out of your checking account. In 2010, the average lunch entree cost $8.07, and dinner entrees were $13.70, according to a report in the Nation's Restaurant News.