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"If you're trying to limit spending, cash is the way to go," says Farnoosh Torabi, author of the personal-finance guide You're So Money: Live Rich, Even When You're Not (Three Rivers Press). Because whipping out a credit card is lot less painful than shelling out those crisp green bills, it's all too easy to rack up bigger charges. Paying cash also means you won't get socked by the higher rates -- such as punishing late-payment charges and inactivity fees -- that banks and credit card companies are now tacking on to your monthly statements. Of course there are times when plastic is the hassle-free way to go, such as for fixed monthly expenses like phone, cable, utilities, or when you're traveling. And by charging big-ticket items like a new laptop or TV, you're often covered in case the item is damaged or stolen. "But whenever you're headed to the mall," says Torabi, "bring cash and cash only."