Between a hectic year of expenses and the cost of holiday cheer, many families will make a New Year’s resolution to work on their budget. If you’re looking to cut down on expenses, know that growing your savings account doesn’t necessarily mean cutting back on everything you love. Here are some clever, expert-recommended ways to save money during the coldest time of the year.
1. Heatproof Your Home
Of course, keeping the thermostat down will save you money, but when was the last time you paid attention to your home’s heating system? Is the furnace working as efficiently as it could? Is it time to change the furnace filter? If you’re unsure, get it checked by a professional — it could save you a hefty sum in the long run. If you have a radiator, move items and furniture away from it; they could be blocking the heat from properly circulating throughout the house.
Do your windows shut tightly? You’d be surprised by how much hot air can escape while cold air seeps in. Closing off unused rooms, keeping curtains drawn after sunset and air-sealing your home (using draft stoppers where needed) will all pay off significantly.
2. Wrangle Your Budget
Use a cold and dreary day to cosy up, audit your bills and organize your budget. Decide if there are subscriptions you could drop or if you can switch to less expensive options. Determine what you really need to pay for and compare prices online.
When it comes to your grocery budget, planning your meals and shopping list ahead of time can help cut down on impulse buys while at the store. While you’re at it, take some time to clip or print coupons — all those individual savings add up!
3. Plan Budget-friendly Family Activities
It can seem impossible to ward off boredom and the winter blues on a budget, but there are plenty of free and low-cost activities to keep your family entertained at home. A little bit of imagination goes a long way:
- Bundle up for a winter nature walk or day of backyard winter Olympics.
- Plan a movie marathon around your favourite director, filmmaking style or subject (like superheroes or sports), complete with themed snacks or homemade props.
- Have a craft day, putting together a scrapbook, drawing your own treasure map or making snowmen out of leftover paper rolls from Bounty paper towels.
4. Start Cooking in Batches
We’re all craving comfort foods during this cold, uncertain time — and pizza delivery is just a click away. But a bit of advance planning can save serious cash when it comes to dinnertime, and batch cooking saves both money and time.
Pick a date each month or every two weeks to prepare several freezer meals. Be sure to check on foods you can and can’t freeze (avoid freezing lettuce, cooked pasta and uncooked potatoes, as a start) as you build your meal plan. Spend a couple of hours cooking, and then put a few days’ worth of meals in the fridge and the rest in the freezer, ready to defrost at your convenience. You’ll waste less food, save money and always have something on hand for those nights when the thought of cooking is unbearable. And you can even save money when it comes to washing the dishes — just a few drops of Dawn dish soap is all you need to clean the dirty dishes after your meal.
5. Make Your Wardrobe Work Harder
As soon as the cold weather hits, it’s tempting to stock up on warm knit sweaters, sturdy winter boots, and hats, scarves and gloves. But before you buy, spend a day going through your closet to assess what you already have. Are there any outfit pairings you hadn’t considered? Donate, sell or toss anything that doesn’t fit or you don’t feel great in. Think about the last time you wore each item; if it’s been more than a year or two, it might be time to get rid of it.
When it comes to hitting the stores, winter is a smart time to purchase discounted summer clothing — you’ll be pleased you did when June rolls around. No matter what season you’re shopping for, stop buying dry-clean-only items and start putting that money toward laundry essentials like Tide PODS Plus Downy and Bounce dryer sheets. When your outfits smell fresh, feel soft and are free of static and wrinkles, who needs to buy new ones?
6. Treat Yourself (a Little)
Cutting out every expense above and beyond your essential bills can feel harsh, so allow yourself a little leeway now and then. While grabbing a latte from your favourite coffee shop every morning quickly adds up, cutting back to once every other week can make a big difference. By rewarding yourself every so often, you’ll be more likely to stay on track with your budget overall.
Have we missed a tip? Comment below to share your best money-saving hints and advice.