The winter season – and its annual holidays – brings joy, presents, and time with friends and family members. But it also puts a little extra strain on your wallet. Colder temperatures, holiday shopping, and party supplies can all combine to take a toll on anyone’s budget!
With the right planning and a few budgeting tips, however, you can save money this winter. Here are a few ways to spend less during the holiday season:
One great way to save money in winter and throughout the year is to install a smart thermostat. A programmable thermostat makes it easy for you to set your temperature to a good base level, then automatically turn the temp down when you’re out of the house. Smart thermostats may require an initial investment, but they will pay for themselves in the long run.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, setting your thermostat a few degrees lower in winter can save up to 10% a year on electricity bills. Plus, a programmable thermostat will give you complete control over your home’s temperature: a clever way to save some cash if your kids always turn the temp up too high.
Turning down the heat in your home is not the only way to save money this winter. Take a tour around your house and seal any air leaks you detect in your windows, doors, and walls. If you’re not sure how to find drafts, there are plenty of online resources to help you figure out how to detect air leaks in your home.
An inexpensive way to save money on your heating bill, you can use caulk or weatherstripping to seal drafty doors and windows or swap out old windows for new, energy-efficient ones that trap in more natural light and heat throughout the day.
The holidays are meant to be spent with friends and family. But oftentimes, our loved ones aren’t all located in one place. Traveling to visit grandparents and siblings can be a stress on your time and wallet. A great way to save money during the holidays is to vacation at home. When you stay local, you save money on gas, plane tickets, hotels, shipping costs for sending gifts, eating out at restaurants, and more.
Staying at home doesn’t mean you can’t see your family, though! Instead of traveling to see them, invite them to your city to visit you. Create a cozy guest space for them with some holiday décor or send recommendations for a nearby hotel or Airbnb. Either way, your holiday budget won’t be as strained this winter.
With the Holidays right around the corner, it’s almost time to do your yearly shopping. But if you’re like many of us, it’s easy to get a bit carried away thinking of all the great gifts you can buy for your friends and family – and yourself.
Want to save money during the holidays and avoid buyer’s remorse? Set a holiday shopping budget, then stick to it. If you have a lot of people to buy gifts for, consider setting a price limit for each person’s gift. Holiday budgeting is a good way to control spending during holiday shopping without accidentally prioritizing anyone.
Need a bit of help? Use the spending tracking tools or widgets available at most online banks and credit unions to ensure you keep to your budget. You can also keep a spreadsheet that tracks the gifts you purchase for each person and their cost.
It’s tempting to whip out your favorite credit card and take advantage of cashback points and other rewards when crossing items off your holiday shopping list. But in some cases, using a credit or debit card might cause you to buy a bit more than you initially planned. An MIT study from its Sloan School of Management found that shoppers may spend up to 100 percent more with a credit card than with cash.
To avoid accidentally overspending at the mall, purchase holiday gifts in cash whenever you can. Cash purchases not only keep your online checking account safer (by preventing cybercriminals from stealing your information during a transaction) but also stop you from spending more than you intend.
If there’s ever a time to double down on coupons and great deals, it’s during the holidays. As you shop throughout the winter season, watch for Black Friday deals, online coupons, and other cost-effective deals that can save you money this winter.
Similarly, take full advantage of free shipping offers if you plan to do most or all of your shopping online. Many online retailers provide free shipping if you purchase holiday gifts within a specific timeframe around the holiday season. You can also sign up for email lists with retailers you want to buy from. More often than not, online retailers offer coupons on your first order after signing up for emails.
To really save money, though, why not put your arts and crafts skills to work and make some homemade gifts for your friends and family members instead of purchasing presents? A custom photo album, a painting, or even a heartfelt letter might be more touching and memorable than trinkets, knickknacks, or gadgets. Homemade winter gifts cost you very little or nothing at all, and they let you get creative with your gift-giving.
Saving money doesn’t have to be hard. Keep these tips in mind when drawing up your budget for Christmas shopping and future holiday parties, and you’ll have a bit of extra cash to spare for your New Year’s Eve celebrations!
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