The holidays are coming up, which for most people means spending a lot of money. You may not be able to reduce the number of people on your guest list, but you can cut back financially in other areas to help save money through this expensive season and beyond, applying those savings to a big, exciting purchase or just socking away extra cash for emergencies.

Make a budget

The best way to start cutting back on spending is to see where your money is going and then adjust where necessary. Most banks allow you to download reports showing all of your expenditures in a month or a quarter. Using this information, you can determine how much you’re spending on various categories and reduce spending where you can.

Set spending limits for optional expenses, such as shopping for new clothes or eating out, and stick to those limits. You’d be surprised how much money you can save by cutting down on restaurant dining.

Pack your lunch

Along those same lines, try bringing your lunch instead of buying a pricey sandwich or salad in the middle of your workday. You can save hundreds of dollars each month this way.

Pay attention to sales

We all know about the sales offered by our favorite department stores or electronics dealers, but grocery stores offer weekly and monthly sales that are advertised in physical or digital flyers that you can sign up for — if they do not already appear in your inbox. Use these sales circulars to create your meal plan and grocery list for the week. While you’re at it, sign up for any rewards programs your grocery store offers and watch your grocery bill fall.

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Check your entertainment costs

We all love going to check out a new movie or getting lost in a good book. But those costs can add up quickly. Consider waiting until you can rent the new movie and watch it at home, where the whole family can see it for a few dollars instead of paying $10 per person for movie tickets. And for books, pay a visit to your local library and sign up for a card. Or, check out used book stores that offer huge varieties of books at discounted rates. Some shops even buy back books, so you can sell copies you no longer want and make a little money back.

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Audit your subscriptions

Cutting cable is an easy way to save money, but for many of us, that means signing up for several streaming services that each come with a monthly fee. Additionally, the new trend of subscription boxes delivers a bundle of often random products right to your door. Take a moment to consider if you really need these services and what they add to your life. Then, cut back accordingly and save money while you keep clutter out of your home.

Go green

Energy costs can be problematic, especially in the winter months. Switch to LED bulbs, install dimmer switches, and wash your clothes in cold water. These things reduce energy usage, which saves money and is better for the planet. You can also take shorter showers, make sure your family turns off lights they aren’t using, and unplug devices when they’re not in use.

There are many ways to cut back on spending, so make choices that are right for your family. With a little bit of extra time and attention, you can reduce your spending to make up for holiday expenditures, save up for a big purchase or just cut down to boost your overall financial health.

Finances FYI is presented by 1st Security Bank of Washington.

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