When I first started painting (with acrylics back then), I was very stingy with my paint. I would squeeze out just a small blob of the colours I was going to use, and then try to make that stretch as far as possible.
I don’t think it was really related to the cost of paints (I was living in China at the time, where the price of paint was not prohibitive), but more that I just didn’t like the idea of waste (I still don’t!)
So I would spread my paint very thinly, almost glazing or scumbling all the colours on top of each other. The result was ok, but there wasn’t any brushwork to speak of. You couldn’t see my brushstrokes, so the image almost looked like it was printed onto the canvas.
Use more paint!
More recently, I’ve discovered the joy of thickly applied paint. Especially in the light areas, slapping the paint on in thick strokes gives a much more pleasing texture to a painting. Here’s a few examples from recent paintings:
So stop worrying about wasting paint, and start painting like you’ve got money to burn. It’s much more fun!