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20 Excellent Ways to Spend Less Money During the Winter

20 Excellent Ways to Spend Less Money During the Winter

Winter can be harsh. It’s cold, gloomy, stressful, and costly. But there are some things you can do to save yourself from some costly spending. Here’s a few tips to help you save your sanity by saving you some money.

1. Turn off the heat

We all like to blast the heat to stay warm in the winter. But when I’m not home or at night when I’m sleeping, I turn the heat off. Yup, all the way off. Why have it wasting your money while you’re not even there to enjoy it? Yes it does make it a little chilly when I come home, however I turn the heat on right away and within minutes the house is warm, and I wasted no money on heat that I wasn’t even using anyway.

2. Turn down the heat

If you don’t want to be an extremist like me, then Global News suggests that even turning your heat down a few degrees at night and while you’re not at home will still save you on your heating bill.

3. Turn off the lights

Lights, TV, cable boxes, anything that you leave on while you’re out or sleeping, will absolutely add to your electric bill! Many people forget the little things like your garland on your mantel and will leave it running. Make sure when you leave the house you turn it all off. Not only are you saving energy but you are also saving yourself some money!

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4. Make gifts

Winter is high time for many holidays. And with the holidays it’s easy to get caught up on spending money without a thought. It’s fun to give gifts! But while it’s true it is fun to give gifts, you can do it without emptying your bank account. By making gifts instead of buying them, you will only be spending money on supplies and can reduce your gift giving budget significantly.

5. Play holiday games

If buying is still fun to you, then maybe play some holiday games to eliminate having to give tons of gifts. Secret Santa is a widely played game with family and friends where you purchase a gift for just one person instead of many. But there are tons of games for every holiday that can be played to reduce the amount of gifts you purchase. Look for some ideas online or on Pinterest.

6. Choose an intimate New Year’s party

People spend a lot of money dining out or buying tickets to special events for New Year’s Eve. While that can certainly be a lot of fun, if you’re looking to keep your winter budget down, then it’s probably not the best idea. Instead, plan an intimate party with family and friends. Everyone can bring a dish and/or their own booze, and you supply the place to party. You will this save tons of New Year’s money, and you’ll still be ringing in the New Year with fun!

7. Budget meals

Ah grocery shopping, the waster of money. Have you ever been the person that goes in to the store for five things and leaves with 10? I have! Especially in the winter, when there are so many goodies to buy and comfort food is at the forefront of your mind. But stay strong! Make a budget for how much you feel you should spend per week and write a list of what you’ll need. But stick to it! This will stop you from impulse buying the fresh baked cookies.

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8. Freezer meals

When you cook, do yourself a favor. Make some extras of things – sauces are especially great for this. When you make a bit extra, you can freeze the food and thaw it for use later. This is a great idea for when you’re realizing that you may be just a bit short on cash, you’ll have some backup dinners ready to heat and eat.

9. Stay inside to save the gas

Gas is expensive, we all know this. And your car eats gas even faster in the winter because of the heat you turn on inside of your car. But, if you limit your trips by allowing yourself one trip to the grocery store a week, going to work and come right back without stops in between, then you can limit the time your in the car and limit the amount of gas it’s gobbling.

10. Shovel instead of snowblowing or plowing

Another gas monster is snowblowing or snowplowing. When it’s a heavy, thick snowfall it’s not a bad idea to bring these machines to life. But, when it’s not too bad out, go shovel instead. Not only will you save yourself on gas money, but you’ll also be getting a great workout and burning off some of those holiday calories.

11. Find secondhand decorations

With holidays we tend to spend money on decorations. There’s nothing wrong with wanting your house to look pretty, but you don’t need to spend a ton of money doing so! Every year at the end of winter people have gone through their decorations and are ready to rid themselves of what they have. Take advantage of that! They always say one man’s junk is another man’ treasure. Find some treasures in decorations and you’ll save yourself a ton in decor for the next year.

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12. Clip coupons

We’ve all heard of Couponing to Disney but we can also coupon simply to keep our costs low. If budgeting your grocery shopping just isn’t working, try clipping coupons out of the weekly ads. It’s even easier now because a lot of places will allow you to print coupons from online. Coupons are helpful not just for food but also for crafts stores if you choose to make gifts, decorations, etc.

13. Try not to use credit cards

I have always been taught that if you can’t afford it, then don’t buy it. DON’T USE CREDIT CARDS! But did I listen to my mom? No, of course not. But I do now. She was right, you save yourself a ton of money by not using cards to purchase items. With the holidays it’s easy to get the idea that credit cards are the way to go, but stop, put down the plastic and walk away quickly. Because not only will you be paying interest on these items all the way until the card is paid off, but if you miss a payment, forget it! Late fees alone will cause you to spend more than you can imagine.

14. Have movie nights at home

Movies are fun to go-to in the winter. It’s warm inside, there’s popcorn being popped, and adventures on the screen. But you can have the same type of cozy winter fun for a fraction of the cost. Have a movie night at home instead of going out. You can still have popcorn (it costs a lot less at the store) and even better – you can pour yourself a glass of wine! Something you obviously can’t do with most movie theaters. With so many movie watching choices like Amazon and Netflix, you can catch the latest movies while staying warm and cozy. Plus, you’re saving the gas money too – double win!

15. Save your change

Spending money is inevitable in the winter months. No matter what you try to cut out, with holidays, food, and gas, you will spend money. But a great way to save a little bit is getting a change jar. Take your change after you go buy some presents, or buy the holiday dinner and put it in a jar. Every time you stop to buy a hot chocolate to warm up- put your change in the jar. You’ll be surprised at how much you save up.

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16. Use alternatives to heat

It is winter so if you’re turning down the heat, or turning off the heat, make sure you have an alternative to keep you warm. Extra blankets, heating pads and warm pajamas will all be able to keep you warm and you won’t even realize that you have the heat off! I used to warm up a rice bag every night and put it in my bed a few minutes before I got in it. By the time I would climb in, it was nice and cozy and I didn’t miss the heat at all.

17. Buy in bulk

Using bulk stores is a great way to save some money. Bulk stores offer great varieties of food at very reasonable prices. Get a membership, if needed, and try out your grocery shopping there. You’ll be amazed at the savings! Just make sure you have enough room for all of your items! You’ll also be saving on trips to the store (see #7 and #9) so there’s bonus savings there!

19. Choose inexpensive New Years Resolutions

New Year’s resolutions can be quite costly. Especially if you are planning on joining a gym. Luckily, there are alternatives to expensive New Year’s resolutions. If you want to lose weight, maybe try some home workouts. If you want to read a book a month, go to the library instead of buying new books. Or choose resolutions that are already inexpensive, like saying one thing you’re thankful for everyday, or volunteering in your community.

20. Seal your windows and close your curtains

In an article by Mirror, a super simple winter trick is mentioned – closing your curtains! It’s well known that heat can easily escape and cold air can come in through windows. So what to do? Close your curtains, it will keep the cold on the outside and the warm on the inside, the curtains acting like a barrier. But if you find this isn’t working enough, I’ve gone so far as to use plastic to cover the windows. It’s a sealer that will also act like a barrier, so just go to your local hardware store – they’ll know where they keep it!

Using these tips can really be a winter money saver. You can do some or all, and either way, if you do any at all, you’re sure to see a difference in your winter costs!

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Last Updated on August 20, 2019

How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

Finances can push anyone to the point of extreme anxiety and worry. Easier said than done, planning finances is not an egg meant for everyone’s basket. And that’s why most of us are often living pay check to pay check. But did anyone tell you that it is actually not a tough task to meet your financial goals?

In this article, we will explore ways on how to set financial goals and then actually meet them with ease.

5 Steps to Set Financial Goals

Though setting financial goals might seem to be a daunting task but if one has the will and clarity of thought, it is rather easy. Try using these steps:

1. Be Clear About the Objectives

Any goal (let alone financial) without a clear objective is nothing more than a pipe dream. And this couldn’t be more true for financial matters.

It is often said that savings is nothing but deferred consumption. Therefore if you are saving today, then you should be crystal clear about what it is for. It could be anything like kid’s education, retirement, marriage, that dream vacation, fancy car etc.

Once the objective is clear, put a monetary value to that objective and the time frame. The important point at this step of goal setting is to list all the objectives, however small they may be, that you foresee in the future and put a value to it.

2. Keep Them Realistic

It’s good to be an optimistic person but being a pollyanna is not desirable. Similarly, while it might be a good thing to keep your financial goals a bit aggressive, going out of the line will definitely hurt your chances of achieving them.

It’s important that you keep your goals realistic in nature for it will help you stay the course and keep you motivated throughout the journey.

3. Account for Inflation

Ronald Reagan once said – “Inflation is as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber and as deadly as a hitman”. And this quote sums up the best what inflation could do your financial goals.

Therefore account for inflation whenever you are putting a monetary value to a financial objective that is far away in the future.

For example, if one of your financial goal is your son’s college education, which is 15 years hence, then inflation would increase the monetary burden by more than 50% if inflation is mere 3%. So always account for inflation.

4. Short Term vs Long Term

Just like every calorie is not the same, the approach towards achieving every financial goal will not be the same. It is important to bifurcate goals in short term and long term.

As a rule of thumb, any financial goal, which is due in next 3 years should be termed as short term goal. Any longer duration goals are to be classified as long term goals. This bifurcation of goals into short term vs long term will help in choosing the right investment instrument to achieve them.

More on this later when we talk about how to achieve financial goals.

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5. To Each to His Own

The journey of setting financial goals is an individualistic affair i.e. your goals are your own goals and are determined by your want to achieve them. A lot of times we get on the bandwagon of goal setting only to realize later on that it was not meant for us.

It is important that your goals are actually your goals and not inspired by someone else. Take a hard look at this step at all the goals you’ve set for after this step, you will be on the way to achieve them.

By now, you would be ready with your financial goals, now it’s time to go all out and achieve them.

11 Ways to Achieve Your Financial Goals

Whenever we talk about chasing any financial goal, it is usually a 2 step process –

  • Ensuring healthy savings
  • Making smart investments

You will need to save enough; and invest those savings wisely so that they grow over a period of time to help you achieve goals. So let’s get down to ensuring healthy savings.

Ensuring Healthy Savings

Self realization is the best form of realisation and unless you decide what your current financial position is, you aren’t heading anywhere.

This is the focal point from where you start your journey of achieving financial goals.

1. Track Expenses

The first and the foremost thing to be done is to track your monthly expenses. Use any of the expense tracking mobile apps to record your expenses. Once you start doing it diligently, you would be surprised to see how small expenses add up to a sizeable amount.

Also categorize those expenses into different bucket so that you know which bucket is eating the most of your pay check. This record keeping will pave the way for cutting down on un-wanted expenses and pump up your savings rate.

2. Pay Yourself First

Generally, savings come after all the expenses have been taken care of. This is a classical mistake which almost everyone of us do. We pay ourselves last!

Ideally, this should be planned upside down. We should be paying ourselves first and then to the world i.e. we should be taking out the planned saving amount first and then manage all the expenses from the rest.

The best way to actually implement is to put the savings on automatic mode i.e. money flowing automatically into different financial instruments (for example – mutual funds, retirement corpus etc) every month.

Taking the automatic route will make us lose control of our money and hence will compel us to manage in what’s left with us thereby increasing the savings rate.

3. Make a Plan and Vow to Stick with It

Budgeting is the best to get around the uncertainty that financial plans always pose. Decide in advance how spending has to be made.

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Nowadays, several money management apps and wallets can help you do this automatically. It’s easy and who knows, you may just end up doing what people fail to do.

At first, you may not be able to stick to your plans completely but don’t let that become a reason why you stop budgeting entirely.

Make use of technology solutions you like. Explore options and alternatives that let you make use of the available wallet options and choose the one that suits you the most. In time, you will get accustomed to making use of these solutions.

You will find that they make it simpler for you to follow your plan, which would have been difficult otherwise.

4. Rise Again Even If You Fall

Let’s be realistic. It’s not like the world will come to an end if you made one mistake. This isn’t called leniency but discipline.

If you fail to meet your budget for a month, don’t give up the entire effort just like that. Instead, start again.

Remember that flexible plans are the most realistic plans. So go forward and try to follow your financial goals as planned but if for some reason, the plan gets out of hand for you, do not give up on it just yet. This has a lot to do with your psychology rather than any material commitment.

All you have to do is to stay on the road and vow to stay on it, no matter how much you fall down.

5. Make Savings a Habit and Not a Goal

In the book Nudge, authors Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein advocate that in order to achieve any goal, it should be broken down into habits since habits are more intuitive for people to adapt to.

Make Savings a habit rather than a goal. While it might seem to be counter intuitive to many but there are some deft ways of doing it. For example:

Always eat out (if at all) during weekdays rather than weekends. Usually weekends are expensive. Make it a habit and you would in turn be saving a great deal.

If you are travelling buff, try to travel during off season. Your outlay will be much less.

If you go out for shopping, always look out for coupons and see where can you get the best deal.

So the key point is to imbibe the action that results in savings rather than on the savings itself, which is the outcome. Focusing on the outcome will bring out the feeling of sacrifice which will be harder to sustain over a period of time.

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6. Talk About It

Sticking to the saving schedule (to achieve financial goals) is not an easy journey. There will be many distractions from those who are not aligned with your mission. And it would be rather easy to lose the grip over your discipline.

Therefore in order to stay the course, it is advisable that you keep yourself surrounded with people who are also on the same bandwagon. Daily discussions with them will keep you motivated to move forward.

7. Maintain a Journal

For some people, writing helps a great deal in making sure that they achieve what they plan.

So if you are one of them, maintain a proper journal, where you write down your goals and also jot down the extent to which you managed to meet them. This will help you in reviewing how far you have come and which goals you have met.

Use this journal to write down all essential points such as your short term, mid term and long term goals, your current sources of income, your regular expenses which you are aware of and any committed expenses which are of recurring nature.

When you have a written commitment on paper, you are going to feel more energised to follow the plan and stick to it. Moreover, it is going to be a lot more easier for you to follow you and track your progress.

At this point, you should be ready with your financial goals and would be doing brilliantly with savings; now it’s time to talk about the big daddy – Investments.

Making Smart Investments

Savings by themselves don’t take anyone too far. However savings when invested wisely can do wonders and we are at that stage where we will talk about making smart investments.

8. Consult a Financial Advisor

Investments doesn’t come naturally to most of us therefore rather than dabbling with it ourselves, it is wise to consult a financial advisor.

Talk to him/her about your financial goals and savings and then seek advice for the best investment instruments to achieve your goals.

9. Choose Your Investment Instrument Wisely

Though your financial advisor will suggest the best investment instruments, it doesn’t hurt to know a bit about them.

Just like “no one is born a criminal”, no investment instrument is bad or good. It is the application of that instrument that makes all the difference.

Do you remember we talked about bifurcating financial goals in short term and long term?

It is here where that classification will help.

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So as a general rule, for all your short term financial goals, choose an investment instrument that has debt nature for example fixed deposits, debt mutual funds etc. The reason for going for debt instruments is that chances of capital loss is less as compared to equity instruments.

10. Compounding Is the Eighth Wonder

Einstein once remarked about compounding,

Compound Interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it… He who doesn’t… Pays it.

So make friends with this wonder kid. And sooner you become friends with it, quicker you will reach closer to your financial goals.

Start investing early so that time is on your side to help you bear the fruits of compounding.

11. Measure, Measure, Measure

All of us do good when it comes to earning more per month but fail miserably when it comes to measuring the investments; taking stock of how our investments are doing.

If there is one single step where everything (so far) can go wrong, it is at this step – Measuring the Progress.

If we don’t measure the progress timely, then we would be shooting in the dark. We wouldn’t know if our saving rate is appropriate or not; whether financial advisor is doing a decent job; whether we are moving closer to our target or not.

Do measure everything. If you can’t measure it all yourself, ask your financial advisor to do it for you. But do it!

The Bottom Line

This completes the list of tips for you to set financial goals and actually achieve them with not so great difficulty.

As you can see, all it requires is discipline. But guess that’s the most difficult part!

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Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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