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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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Published on October 8, 2018

13 Incredibly Useful Tactics to Help You to Stick to Your Family Budget

13 Incredibly Useful Tactics to Help You to Stick to Your Family Budget

Are you having trouble sticking to a family budget? You aren’t alone.

Budgeting is difficult. Creating one is hard enough, but actually sticking to it is a whole other issue. Things come up. Desires and cravings happen. And the next thing you know, budgets break.

So how can you stick to a family budget? Here are 13 tips to make it easier.

1. Choose a major category each month to attack

As the saying goes, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” With that in mind, one approach to help you get into the habit of sticking to a budget is simply starting slow.

Spend too much on Starbucks runs, eat out too often, and have an out-of-this-world grocery bill? Choose one bad habit and attack.

By choosing one behavior to focus on, you’ll prevent yourself from being overwhelmed. You’ll also experience small victories, which help you gain positive momentum. This momentum can then carry over into your overall budget.

2. Only make major purchases in the morning

If you’re making large purchases in the evening, there’s a good chance you’re doing so after a long day and you’re probably tired.

Why does this matter? Because our judgement tends to be off when tired – our willpower is compromised.

Instead, only make major purchasing decisions in the morning when you’re energized and refreshed. Your brain will be firing on all cylinders and your resolve will be high. You’re less likely to give in and settle at this point.

3. Don’t go to the grocery store hungry

Have trouble with impulse buys at the grocery store? If so, there’s a good chance you’re going grocery shopping while hungry.

The problem here is that when you’re hungry, everything looks good. So you’re more likely to make split decisions on things that aren’t on your grocery list.

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Instead, make sure you eat prior to your grocery store trip. Then take your list, along with your full stomach, and go shopping. Notice how food doesn’t look quite so good when you’re not fighting cravings.

4. Read one-star reviews for products

Is there a product you just have to have (but maybe not really)? Check out the one-star reviews.

By reading all the horrible reviews, you may be able to basically trick yourself into deciding that the product isn’t worth your time and money.

Next thing you know, you didn’t make the purchase, you saved the money, and you feel good about the decision.

5. Never buy anything you put in an online shopping cart until the next day

If you are making a purchase online, it’s typically a two-step process. First, you click “Add to Cart” and then you go in to review your cart and pay.

The problem is that there not typically much reviewing during step two. It’s generally click pay and there you go. However, this is the perfect point to stop for reflection.

Once you add to your cart, your best bet is to step away until the next day. Let the item sit there and grow cold, so to speak.

This gives you a night to “sleep on it” and decide if you really want and need to spend that money. If you wake up the next day and still find the purchase viable, then perhaps it’s time to go for it.

6. Don’t save your credit card info on any site you shop on

One of the other pitfalls of shopping online is that fact that most sites ask you to save your credit card information.

While the sites will frame it as a method of convenience, the truth is they know you’ll spend more money in the long run if your credit card information is saved.

The “convenience” takes away one last decision-making point in the purchasing process. True, it’s a pain to get out your credit card and enter the information every time. But guess what? That’s the point. If that inconvenience helps you stay on budget, then it’s worth it. Which leads into the next tip.

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7. Tape an “impulse buy” reminder to your credit card

Credit cards make spending much easier than cash. When you spend cash, you can literally see your wallet emptying. A credit card comes out, then goes back in. No harm, no foul.

That’s why it’s a good idea to tape a reminder to your credit card. Customize a message that is something along the lines of “do you really need this?” or “does it fit the budget?”

That way when you pull out the card, you get one last reminder to help you question your decision and stick to your budget.

8. Only use gift cards to shop on Amazon

Amazon is probably the easiest place online to blow money. It’s just so easy to click and buy. However, one way you can slow the process down is buy only using gift cards. Here’s how it works.

If you plan on making a purchase on Amazon, go to the grocery store and purchase a pre-loaded Amazon gift card of the proper amount. There’s no convenience fee, so you literally pay for the money you’ll spend.

Now take that gift card home and load it to your Amazon account. There’s your money to spend.

Why does this help? It makes you have to purposely go to the score and purchase the card in order to purchase the item. That’s a pretty deliberate thing that takes some time, commitment, and thought.

This process will effectively kill the impulse buy.

9. Budget using cash and envelopes

As mentioned earlier, it’s a lot harder to spend cash than swipe a credit card. You can take this even farther by using only cash, and separating that cash by budget category.

Create an envelope for each category and stick the cash in there at the beginning of each month. When the envelope is empty, no more spending on that category, unless you borrow from another (be careful of that approach).

This can be pretty helpful for people that have a hard time following transactions in their checking account, or keeping a budgeting spreadsheet.

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The envelopes simplify the tracking process, leaving no room for error. Nothing hides from you because it’s tangible in the envelopes in front of you.

10. Join a like-minded group

Making the decision to stick to something like budgeting is difficult. It takes long-term commitment.

You’re going to feel weak sometimes. And sometimes you may fail. That said, support from others can help strengthen resolve.

Support can come from a spouse or a friend, but they won’t always have the exact same goal in mind. That’s why it’s a good idea to join a support group that’s likeminded.

No need to pay here, as there are tons of free communities that fit the bill online.

For example, reddit has multiple subreddits that deal with budgeting and frugal living. You can follow, subscribe, and get active in those communities.

This will open your eyes to new tips and strategies, keep your goal fresh on your mind, and help you realize there are others dealing with the same struggles and being successful.

11. Reward Yourself

When you set a budget, it’s usually with a large goal in mind. Maybe you want to be debt free, or perhaps you want to see $10,000 in your savings account.

Whatever the case, the end goal is great, but the end is often far away, making it hard to see the end of the tunnel.

With that in mind, it’s a good idea to set mini-goals along the way. This helps you still look at the big picture but have something that’s attainable in the short-term to help with momentum.

But don’t stop there – set rewards for yourself when you reach that small goal. Maybe it’s an extra meal out. Or a new pair of shoes.

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Whatever the case, this gives you something in the near future to look forward to, which can help with the fatigue that can result in pursuing long-term goals.

12. Take the Buddhist approach

You don’t have to be a Buddhist to recognize some of the wisdom in the teachings. One of the tenets of the philosophy involves accepting that we can’t have everything we want. And that’s okay.

Sometimes you won’t feel good. Sometimes you’ll have cravings. You can’t deny them. But you can recognize them, accept them, and let them pass by. Then you move on.

Apply this to the times you want to do things that will break your budget. You’re going to have the desire to eat out when you shouldn’t. You might want to stay out and spend too much at happy hour with your work friends.

The feelings will come. Recognize them, accept them, but let them go.

13. Set up automatic drafts to savings

If you wait until you’ve spent all your budgeted money to deposit money into savings, guess what? You probably aren’t going to put any money into savings.

It’s too easy to see that as extra money and end up using it to treat yourself.

Instead, set up automatic savings withdrawals. That way, the money is marked and gone before you can even think about it. It becomes a non-issue. It’s no longer “extra.” It’s just savings.

Conclusion

Sticking to a budget can be difficult. No one is denying that.

However, if you can do a few things to set yourself up for success, and put some practices in place to curb impulse buys, then you can (and will!) be successful sticking to your family budget.

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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