While the colder months of the year can be a wonderful time, full of seasonal celebrations and moments with family, they’re also pretty expensive. When you add together the costs of everything from winter travel to big gifts and food expenses, it’s easy to see how people lose track of their finances during winter.
1. Have a Plan
The good news? You don’t have to resign yourself to a panicked season of trying to make ends meet. There are plenty of ways that you can save money when the temperature drops without having to sit shivering in your home every night. Here are our top tips.
While there are many things that can harm your budgeting strategy during the winter months, from gift-giving to excessive eating, the biggest problem is often frivolous unplanned spending. During the season of giving when emotions are high, it’s tempting to spend a little extra cash here and there. However, if you have a plan for how you’re going to use your money through each month in the winter season, you’ll be a lot better prepared.
For instance, if you know that you’re likely to spend more during November and December, try to adjust your spending strategy in the months around that so you can save back some extra cash.
2. Upgrade your Home
Sometimes the only way to protect yourself in the long-term is to spend some extra money now. If it’s been years since you last upgraded your heating system, then you might save a fortune by taking out a small loan now so you can manage that expense. Buying a system that you can rely on to keep you comfortable during the winter month is a lot more affordable than paying for emergency repairs on Christmas day, or dealing with a flood when your pipes burst.
Assess your home and ask yourself what you can reasonably do to prepare yourself not just for the winter, but for the year ahead too. You’ll thank yourself later.
3. Start Prepping your Meals
When it gets colder and the nights get longer, we find ourselves craving comfort in many different forms. You might decide that you want to eat more comfort food, which means that you opt for pizza delivery when you stumble in from work each night, rather than using the food that you already have. While cooking meals ahead of time won’t necessarily banish your cravings, it will mean that you have a convenient alternative when you can’t be bothered to cook.
Try and plan some fun foods that you know you’re going to enjoy eating. If you’re not used to making meals in advance, it may be worth double-checking which items you can safely freeze for later too.
4. Spend More Time Indoors
This should be a pretty easy tip to abide by when the weather outside is frosty. While it’s tempting to get out as often as you can with friends and family during the festive season, try to spend more time in your own home this year. Instead of meeting your family members at a restaurant for a group meal, invite everyone over to your house for a potluck dinner where people can bring their own favorite foods into the mix.
Not only will you save cash on food, but you’ll be able to make sure that you feel warm and comfortable every night too. No-one really like searching for a cab after a few drinks in the middle of winter, after all. You can always visit friends’ houses too and avoid spending money on anything but a cab or fuel.
5. Give Yourself a Break
One of the best things you can do during the winter season is give yourself a break. Rather than telling yourself that you can’t afford to go a penny over budget, try to plan for some emergency and discretionary spending each month. Sometimes, you’re going to need to turn the heat up a little higher than usual in your home and deal with the higher energy bills as a result. Other times, you might want to say “yes” to a night out of Christmas drinks with the people from your office.
Living a frugal lifestyle where you know how to use your money correctly doesn’t have to mean restricting yourself from doing anything enjoyable. If you try to cut too many things out of your budget, then you’re not going to have a very fun winter.