You can cut back on spending in times when money is tight, but spending less doesn’t mean you have to cut out the things you enjoy.

[Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/Catherine Lane]
Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/Catherine Lane

Here are some ways you can trim the money tree, pain-free:

  • Determine which expenses you can eliminate without affecting your quality of life. For example, can you downgrade your cable and still get the channels that matter most to you?

  • Eat out less often. A family of four can easily spend $30 at a very inexpensive restaurant.

    You can make that same meal, or a much better one, at home for about one-third of the cost.

  • Plant a small vegetable and herb garden. Not only do you save on grocery bills, but you also benefit from homegrown fun and flavor.

  • Cook a giant feast on weekends and freeze the leftovers in individual containers. Now you have homemade, ready-to-heat meals for a fraction of the cost of quality processed frozen foods.

  • Sell items you don’t use or need, and purchase quality secondhand items. Check out Craigslist, an online classifieds site that offers everything from housemates to horseshoes.

  • Become a do-it-yourselfer. If you currently hire someone to mow, clean, or provide other domestic services, explore how much money you could save by doing these projects yourself.

  • Revive the dying activity of window shopping. Gather a group of friends to simply walk through stores, browsing to see what’s new and to admire the displays.

  • Shop in your own home. After years of overconsuming, many people have extra dishes, furniture, clothing, and more. When you feel a hankering to redecorate a room or set a special table for the holidays, go shopping through the items you already have.