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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 June 6, 2019

The Average Retirement Savings and How to Save Wisely

The Average Retirement Savings and How to Save Wisely

Are you on track for retirement?

If not, don’t worry, I’m not sure either. I save each month and hope for the best.

Fortunately, I’m at an age where most people don’t save so I’m ahead of the curve.

But, what if you aren’t in your 20s? What if you’re near retirement and are looking to gauge where you stand?

If so, keep reading. Here’s how to prepare for retirement and save wisely during the process.

What Does the Average American Have Saved for Retirement?

Saving for retirement is tricky.

Tell someone straight out of college to save $10k a year for retirement and it’ll be next to impossible.

Make the same request to someone decades older and they’d be more likely to be able to save this amount. But, a 20-year old college student can be “financially ahead” of someone saving more than them. Why?

Age matters in your financial journey. The younger you are, the more time you have to save and put compound interest to work. As you get older and have more saving power, you’d have less time to put compound interest to work.

Here are the average savings Americans hold by age bracket:

20’s – $16,000

During this stage, most people are paying loans and moving up the corporate ladder. Your best bet during this stage is to focus on eliminating debt and increasing your income. Don’t focus only on getting a high-paying job neither.

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Instead, focus on learning via Podcasts, reading books, and taking specialized courses. Doing this will make you more valuable and give you more career options.

30’s – $45,000

At this stage, you’ve hopefully escaped your entry-level salary and work at a career you enjoy. Your earning power has increased but you now have more obligations. For example, marriage, kids, and a mortgage.

Set a plan to pay off all your debt and focus on eliminating unnecessary expenses. Leverage financial tools like Personal Capital to ensure you’re on track for retirement.

40’s – $63,000

This is the stage where you’re at the prime of your career. Top financial institutions recommend you have at least 2 to 4 times your salary saved up. If you’re falling behind, start maxing out your 401K and Roth IRA accounts.

50’s – $115,000

During your fifties, you’re close to retirement but still, have time to save. You may be helping your kids pay college tuition and other expenses. Since you’re at the peak of your earning power, max out all your retirement accounts.

60’s – $172,000

By this point, you should have about eight times your salary saved up. If not, you’ll depend primarily on social security benefits averaging $1400 per month. Max out all your retirement options as much as possible before retiring.

Ways to Save Money on a Tight Budget

The sad reality is that most Americans aren’t saving enough for retirement.

Even high-earning power isn’t enough to secure one’s financial future. You need to have the discipline to save for retirement while time is in your favor. Don’t wait for you to have a high salary to save, start with having a small budget.

First, get a clear picture of where you stand. Write down a list of “needs” and “wants.” For example, Netflix and Amazon Prime are “wants” and a “cell-phone” is a need.

Use tools like Personal Capital to analyze your spending patterns. Personal Capital allows you to add all your financial data in one place–making it a powerful option to gauge where you stand.

Once you know all your expenses, organize them from highest to lowest expense. When you can’t cut more expenses, call your service providers to negotiate a lower price. If you’re not good at negotiating, use services like Trimm to lower your monthly expenses.

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How to Save Money Each Month

By this point, you know the average amount of money you should have saved for retirement based on your age.

But, breaking this down into monthly goals can be challenging. Here are some rule of thumbs to follow:

Aim to contribute 10%–15% of your salary each paycheck. Review your progress each week.

Why so often? The reality is that life gets in our way and you will have many financial setbacks. Your goal isn’t to be perfect but to get back on track instead.

Reviewing your finances weekly lets you know where you stand with your retirement. This doesn’t have to be a long process either. All it takes is login in Personal Capital to view your net worth and check how much you have saved for retirement.

Turn saving into a game and aim to save more each month. It will get challenging but you’ll get creative and find more ways to save.

Top Money Saving Challenge Tips

To prepare for your financial future and not be another statistic you need to be different.

How?

By adopting new habits that’ll help you become a saving machine. Here are some ways you can save more:

Automatically Contribute Towards Retirement

If you’re working for a company, you can automatically contribute towards your 401k. If you’re not currently contributing more than 10%, make this your goal. Contribute 1% more today and automatically increase this amount a year from now.

Odds are that you’re not going to be negatively affected by contributing 1% more. Many times we spend our money on things we don’t need. Contributing more towards retirement is a great way to secure your financial future.

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Use the Right Tools to Know Where You Stand

Once you’re contributing more towards your retirement accounts, gauge your progress. Make use of finance tracking apps to help you view the big picture of your retirement.

When I’d first signed up for the app Personal Capital, I didn’t know I had a negative net worth. Despite saving thousands of dollars, my debt brought my net worth to the negative. Knowing this motivated me to save more and spend less.

Now, I have a positive net worth. But, it was because I was able to view the big picture using the app. Find out what your net worth is using a finance tracking app and you may surprise yourself.

Bring in Experts to View Your Blind Spots

If you have too little or too much money saved, you should consider hiring financial experts.

Why?

You may need someone to hold you accountable to help you reach your financial goals. Or, you may need help managing your money as effective as possible.

Regardless of the reason, getting help may help improve your financial situation.

Before you hire an expert, find out which areas you need help the most. For example, if you’re constantly overspending, find a debt counselor. If you’re struggling with choosing the best investment options, hire a financial advisor.

Speed up Your Retirement Contribution

After learning how to manage your money well, the next best thing is to earn a higher income.

You’re capped at how much you can save but not much you can earn. Even if your employer isn’t giving you a promotion, you can still take charge of your financial future. How?

By starting a side-business.

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This will be something you’d work on after you’ve finished your day job. Once you start earning income from your side-business, you’ll be financially better off.

The best part is the more work you put into your side-business,[1] the more potential it has to earn more money.

So start a side-business in an area you’re familiar with. For example, if you enjoy writing, do freelance writing for small e-commerce businesses.

Once you’re earning a higher income, you can contribute more towards your retirement. Don’t wait for the right opportunity to secure your financial future, create one.

Reach Financial Freedom with Confidence

What if you were able to retire tomorrow with no problem, all because you’d have enough money saved up and little to no debt left to pay off? How would you feel?

My guess is that you’d feel happy and relieved.

Most Americans are falling behind their retirement goals for many reasons. They’re not prepared, they carry bad money-habits and are thinking short-term.

For you to retire successfully, you need to work backward and adopt better habits. Contribute more towards your 401K and focus on growing your income.

If you do, you’ll save money and pay debt faster.

Don’t beat yourself up if you’re behind your retirement goals. Take the first step today towards a brighter financial future. Isn’t retirement worth the hard work and sacrifice to be at peace?

Featured photo credit: Huy Phan via unsplash.com

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