Seven simple ways to spend less this season

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Christmas bulbs and $100 bill

NEW YORK — When people take inventory of their spending habits, many come to the conclusion that they need to scale back.¬†Upon making that realization, many people immediately assume they need to give up certain luxuries. However, spending less on nonessential items may free up funds for more enjoyable activities, such as dining out and travel. Being frugal doesn’t mean you have to be a minimalist, and it’s easier than you might think.

Explore these relatively easy methods to tame spending.

1. Use cash as much as possible

Related: How to spend wisely this holiday season

Paying with cash can create an emotional feeling of loss and taps into your five senses. Taking cash from your wallet and handing it over to cashiers could slow down your subconscious spending, which is less likely to happen if you always swipe a credit or debit card.

2. Keep a spending log

Jot down your spending habits on a piece of paper or use home budgeting software to track where you tend to spend the most. This gives you an accurate and fluid method to examine your spending.

3. Spend less on shopping sprees

Some people use shopping as an emotional release or a method to relieve stress. If you like shopping but want to cut back on your spending, shop in less expensive stores, such as consignment or dollar stores. This feeds your desire to shop without breaking the bank.

4. Eliminate one monthly bill

Find a way to cut out one monthly expense. If you’re not using that gym membership, cancel it. If you can’t find something to eliminate, find a way to cut back. Maybe you can scale back your mobile phone service plan. Downgrade your cable television package to one that’s more affordable.

5. Do things yourself

Consider the services you pay others to do that you may be able to do yourself. If you’re handy with a paintbrush, paint your home interior. Have everyone pitch in to clean the house and scale back on housekeeping services. Cook your own meals and rely less on takeout.

6. Transfer savings automatically

Transfer a portion of your paycheck directly into a savings account. Set up automated transfers so the money never appears in the account linked to your debit card.

7. Pay bills on time

Do not waste money on late fees and penalties. Use automatic bill pay so you don’t miss any payments and waste money on fees.

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