Your daily costs of living add up any time of the year, but especially in the winter when you have holiday gifts to buy and hefty utility bills to pay. To help you climb out of this seemingly never-ending pit of disappearing money, consider these tips to cut costs during the winter.
Take Advantage of Couponing
Whether you’re shopping for the perfect holiday gift, party favors, or your regular grocery items, couponing can be a lifesaver. Those who practice couponing religiously boast saving thousands on their everyday expenses with just a little bit of effort on their part, and you can too!
Getting started isn’t hard. You’ll want to subscribe to a couple of newspapers, especially for the Sunday edition, and pick up any coupon flyers when you see them. Use websites and apps like Favado, Grocery Smarts, and The Krazy Coupon Lady to help you find the best deals around. With a little bit of intuition and clipping on your part, you can expect to save anywhere from $50-$500 per month!
Be More Energy Efficient
Heating will probably be your worst utility bill during the winter, and it will be much worse if your home isn’t ready for the cold. You’ll want to take some time, if you haven’t already, to winterize your home. As a matter of fact, you should always plan this into your home’s maintenance budget.
Make sure your windows have good weather stripping and that they aren’t letting in cold air. If cold air is entering your home through your closed windows, you’ll either want to cover them in plastic (an unsightly solution, but it works!) or, for a long-term, attractive option, replace them with energy-efficient windows.
Look at your home insulation. 65 percent of current homes in America do not meet the standard of insulation, according to the Department of Energy, thus leading to major energy waste. It also points out that re-insulating your home can save you 20-40 percent on your current heating costs, according to the EPA.
You might also consider looking into a smart thermostat for your home, which memorizes your daily routines and automatically reduces your home temperature when you don’t need it. For example, when you sleep or go to work, it will reduce the temperature. When you’re home and awake, it increases it.
Don’t forget to check the little things as well. Cover outlets so that air doesn’t get in through them and move furniture and objects away from heating vents to ensure maximum airflow.
Also, energy efficiency doesn’t just end at home. You can also make changes to make your car more energy-efficient, which gives you better gas mileage. For example, did you know that replacing/upgrading your muffler can drastically reduce your car’s emissions and reduce the fuel consumption?
Make a Financial Plan Before the Season Starts
As the year comes to a close, take it as an opportunity to really look at your finances. You’ll want to evaluate your current credit card balance, home mortgage, automobile loans, student loans, and any other personal debt. If your monthly payments are taking a substantial amount out of your paycheck, you’ll definitely want to look for options that will help you save money.
Cut up any credit cards that have a high-interest rate, and see about relocating what you owe on them to another credit card with lower interest rates.
Look into refinancing your home or automobile loans. With a little digging and a lowered interest rate, you might land yourself in a situation that allows you to reduce your monthly payments without significantly increasing your overall loan cost.
Consolidate student loans and other personal debt to a lower interest rate. If you can sign up for an automatic debt repayment plan as you pay back these loans, do it. It will save you plenty of money in the long run.
Reduce Your Food Spending
If you take a look at your online bank account, you’ll probably be surprised at how much of your income goes towards food, particularly restaurants. You can save a lot by focusing on cutting down on such food costs.
Create a strict budget for eating out, and don’t cheat! Try brown-bagging it for lunch every day so that you can save eating out for special occasions.
Commit to making more foods from home. Look into recipes for easy, quick meals for when you are running low on time to help curb the temptation to simply order pizza.
Write out a list of food you need rather than winging it when you grocery shop, and cut down on impulse trips to the grocery store after you’ve done your major shopping. Oftentimes when you run to the store to get milk, you also load up on other unnecessary items.
Managing your spending isn’t always easy, but with a little willpower and perseverance, you’ll notice a significant change in your spending, not to mention your overall checking account balance!