Winter certainly has many charms: crisp weather; hearty food; roaring fires; and, of course, the festive period. However, the colder months also bring challenges. With energy costs rising sharply, as well as the pressure of entertaining, hosting, and buying gifts, it can be tricky to stay on budget.
If you’re feeling concerned about your finances – or simply hoping to save some money – keep reading. In this blog, we’ll share our top tips for saving money and sticking to your budget this winter.
Create a Winter Budget
We’ve mentioned the importance of creating a budget before; but did you know that it’s a good idea to tweak your budget from season to season? Things do fluctuate during different months, after all; in summer you might need to allow more money for summer holidays, new clothes, or even childcare during the school holidays, whereas in winter there are higher household costs and festive events to think about. Use your budget template but make tweaks where necessary: can you save money on groceries by batch-cooking hearty stews, curries and soups, and divert the savings to cover your energy bills?
It might be wise to create a separate budget just for the festive period, too. You’ll want to keep track of all additional spend: everything from decorations to Christmas parties. Be strict with yourself when it comes to buying presents, too; make a note of whom you need to buy for, and set a limit. Thoughtful, original gifts are likely to mean more than a rush buy (which tends to be more expensive), so do plan ahead! If you allow yourself plenty of time, you can also take advantage of pre-Xmas sales.
When shopping, don’t forget to take a list with you. This will help you to avoid temptation and a tendency to impulse buy – and will make it much easier to stick to your budget.
Invest in Winter Gear
It may sound surprising to suggest spending money whilst trying to stay on budget; but spending wisely is a good investment, in the long term. Purchasing a warm coat, waterproof, sturdy footwear, and a high-quality hat, scarf and pair of gloves will help you save money in the long run, because this attire will keep you warm for years to come.
Energy prices are spiralling, so keeping warm without having the heating on full blast is a crucial cost-cutting step. With this in mind, do be savvy when you’re working: though it’s important to look presentable during meetings, can you wear layers (like thermals) so that you stay toasty and warm? And can you jazz up existing outfits so there’s no need to buy anything new for your winter wardrobe?
Staying warm isn’t only smart, it’s important for your health. Studies show that drops in temperature have a real impact on your immune system’s defences. This, in the long term, can have an impact on your finances - so wrapping up in warm clothing could help to ensure that you’re always able to work, if you need to!
Stick Close to Home…
Though we often consider it a busy, social time of the year, winter is not the cheapest time in which to travel! In addition to energy costs, road users have also noted fluctuations in the cost of fuel over the last year – and prices are on the rise again. Plane and train fares tend to soar during the winter months, too, as families make plans to gather together to celebrate Christmas and other seasonal holidays.
If you can stick close to home during the winter – and avoid unnecessary travel – you could avoid paying peak prices and make some handy savings.
…And When at Home, Be Thrifty!
Whether working from home or simply hunkering down during the darker, colder nights, there are some easy steps you can take to keep your finances on track – such as:
· Turn your central heating down. Did you know that, just by turning your heating down by one degree, you could save up to £80 a year – and you probably won’t notice the difference? If you work from home and need to have the heating on fairly regularly, this small change could have a noticeable impact on your bills.
· Keep an eye on your cuppa! Another small change – but one worth making – is to watch the amount of water you boil in the kettle. If you remember to only fill the kettle with the amount you’ll actually use, this action will save money over time. A good trick is to fill your mug with cold water and then pour this into the kettle – you’ll be rewarded for your precision!
If you’re not using it, switch it off. When you’ve finished a piece of work, or got to a certain point in a television programme, it’s easy to simply step away: to leave the computer on, or the TV on pause. But leaving equipment running – even on standby – still uses electricity, and it will add up over time. Try to switch equipment off at the plug when you can, and always turn off the lights when you leave a room.