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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 January 2, 2019

How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money

How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money

Do you know what mental health experts point to as the biggest cause of stress in the United States today? If you said “money,” then ding, ding, we have a winner!

Three out of four adults today report feeling stressed out about money at least part of the time. People are either worried about not having enough money or whether they’re putting the money they do have to use in the best possible way.

Your money is either in charge of you or you’re in charge of it, there’s no middle ground. Using some type of personal finance software can help alleviate some of that money stress and better allow you to manage your money effectively. Without it, you may just be setting yourself up for constant financial worry. Life is already tough enough and there’s no need to make it more difficult by simply hoping your money issues will all work out in your favor. Hint: they won’t.

This guide will help you to understand how personal finance software can better assist with both accomplishing long term financial goals and managing day-to-day aspects of life.

Whether it’s tracking the savings plan for your child’s college fund or making sure you won’t be in the red with the month’s grocery budget, personal finance software keeps all this information in one convenient place.

What Exactly is Personal Finance Software?

Think of it like the dashboard in your car. You have a speedometer to tell you how fast you’re going, an odometer to tell you how far you’ve traveled, and then other gauges to tell you things like how much gas is in the tank and your engine temperature. Personal finance software is essentially the same thing for your money.

When you install this software on your computer, tablet, or smartphone, it helps to track your money — how much is going in, how much is going out, and its growth. Most personal finance software programs will display your budget, spending, investments, bills, savings accounts, and even retirement plans, levels of debt, and credit score.

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How It Leads to Financial Improvement

It shouldn’t come as a surprise, but people who regularly monitor their finances end up wealthier than those who don’t. When you were a kid, keeping track of all of your money in a porcelain piggy bank was pretty easy. As we get older, though, our money becomes spread out across things like car payments, mortgages, retirement funds, taxes, and other investments and debts. All of these things make keeping track of our money a lot more complicated.

Some types of personal finance software can help make things a little less complicated, setting you up to meet financial goals and taking away some of the stress associated with money.

Even if you already have a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) some type of personal finance software can be of great benefit. Whereas CFPs focus on the big picture of your money, they don’t handle the day-to-day aspects that determine your overall financial health.

It’s also not nearly as complicated as you might think and can take out a lot of the tedium that comes with doing everything on an Excel spreadsheet or with a pad and pencil.

Types of Personal Finance Software

When it comes to personal finance software, it generally fits into two categories: tax preparation and money management.

Tax preparation software such as Turbo Tax and H&R Block’s software can help with everything from filing income taxes to IRS rules and regulations and even estate plans. Plus, there’s the benefit of filing online and getting your refund check a lot faster than if you were to mail off your forms after waiting in line at the post office.

For the purpose of this article, however, will be focusing more on the personal finance software that aids with money management.

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Money management personal finance software will help you to see the health of your cash flow, pay down debt, forecast for expenses and savings, track investments, pay bills, and do a host of other things that 30 years ago would have practically required a team of accountants.

When to Use Personal Finance Software

So far we’ve gone over what exactly personal finance software is and how it can be a benefit to your money. The next logical step in this whole equation is determining when it should be used and how is the best way to go about getting started using it.

Below are four of the most common and practical ways to use personal finance software. If all or any of these apply to you and your money, then downloading some type of personal finance software is going to be a smart move.

1. You Have Multiple Accounts

There’s a good chance that when it comes to your money, it’s in more than one place. Sure, you probably have a checking account, but you may also have a savings account, money market account, and retirement accounts such as an IRA or 401k.

If you’re like the average American, you probably have two to three credit cards as well. Fifty percent of Americans also don’t have loyalty to just one bank and spread their money across multiple banks.

Rather than spending hours typing in every detail of every account you have into a spreadsheet, many programs allow you to easily import your account information. This will help to eliminate any mistakes and give you a bird’s eye view of everything at once.

2. You Want to Automate Some or All of Your Payments

Please don’t say that you’re still writing out paper checks and dropping each bill in the mailbox. While it’s noble that you’re doing your part to keep postal workers employed, we’re 18 years into the 21st century and you can literally pay every bill online now.

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There’s no need to log into every account you have and type in your routing number either.

With personal finance software you can schedule automatic payments and transfers between all of your imported accounts. Automatic transfers will help to make sure you have the necessary funds in the right account to ensure all bills are paid on the appropriate date. Late fees are annoying and do nothing but cost you money. It’s time that you said goodbye to them once and for all.

3. You Need to Streamline Your Budget

Perhaps the best feature of personal finance software is that it allows you track everything going in and out of your virtual wallet.

Nearly every brand of personal finance software out there has easy-to-read graphs and charts that allow you track every cent you spend or earn, should you choose. You might be pretty amazed when you see just how much you spent on eating out last month or if you splurged a little more than you should have on Christmas gifts last year.

Every successful business on the planet has a budget and using personal finance software can help you trim the fat on your spending in ways that affect your everyday life.

4. You Have Specific Goals to Meet

Maybe it’s paying off debt or saving for up something like a European vacation. Whatever your financial goal is, whether it’s long-term or short-term, personal finance software programs are one of the savviest ways to go about reaching those goals.

You can do everything from set spending alerts to notify you when you’re over budget to automating what percentage of your paycheck goes to things like retirement investments. The personal finance software that you choose should show you exactly how close you are to hitting those goals at any given time.

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How to Get Started

From AceMoney to Mint and Quicken, there ’s no shortage of personal finance software apps out there. Many of these programs are free to download and will allow you to pay bills, invest, monitor your net worth and credit profile, and even get a loan with the swipe of a finger.

Other programs may only offer you limited services and will require a one-time fee or subscription to unlock all that they offer. These fees can often vary from as little as two dollars to 50 bucks a month.

It’s best to start off with the free version and then gauge whether you’re able to accomplish everything you’d like or if it’s worth exploring one of the paid options. Often times the subscription programs come with assistance from financial planning and investment experts — so that can be a real benefit.

When deciding which personal finance software program to use, it’s also important to look at how many accounts you wish to monitor. Certain programs limit the number of accounts you can add. Be sure that if you have checking, credit card, and investment accounts to monitor, that you choose a service that can monitor them all.

Finally, when looking around for the right personal finance software that meets your needs, make sure that you’re comfortable with the program’s interface. It shouldn’t be expected that you recognize every single feature instantly, but if the features don’t seem readable and manageable to you, then you’re not as likely to use it and get the full benefits.

Final Thoughts

Personal finance software can go a long way in helping you to take control of your money and meeting your financial goals. It’s important to note, however, that some focus more on budgeting and expense tracking while others prioritize investing portfolios and income taxes. Explore several different programs and read reviews to find the one that’s right for you.

In this day and age, managing one’s personal finances in a secure manner that allows the user to have a real-time visual representation of their money is easier than ever before. With the numerous applications that are out there — both free and subscription-based — there’s no reason that every person can’t take control of their money and ensure they’re making smart money moves.

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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