Although we had one of the mildest Decembers on record this year, we’re now in the period of winter that often results in snow, where temperatures plummet, and when spring can seem very, very far away. As well as this being the worst time for weather, it can be a difficult period for your finances too, and even your state of mind. As we’re looking ahead at what could be a long, hard winter we’ve got a few tips to help you get through the worst of it.
Tip 1: Heat yourself, not your house
Many of us waste money on heating during the winter months and it’s the time of year when the temptation to just turn up the thermostat and shut the door is overwhelming. However, your home doesn’t need to be warm if you’re not in it and the way you dress and act can have an impact on how much heat you need. Buy yourself warm slippers or socks, a cosy duvet and perhaps a hot water bottle so that when it gets really cold you can stay warm without soaring energy costs.
Tip 2: Get healthy
Looking after your body is one of the most important survival tips for winter as constant illness can make the darker months of the year really miserable. It’s sometimes worth investing in vitamins or minerals that will help to boost your immune system at this time of year – extra Vitamin C or herbs such as Echinacea are renowned for helping to ward off coughs and colds when you first feel them taking hold. It’s also important to stay hydrated and make sure that your diet contains enough protein, vegetables and carbohydrates to keep you fuelled and healthy.
Tip 3: Learn to cook more effectively
Food is crucial in winter – it not only warms up our core temperatures but it also provides the fuel we need to get through harsher weather and days with less sunlight. Porridge is a great, cheap breakfast choice as oats are rich in protein and also contain soluble fibre, which takes longer to digest and so will provide you with more energy over a longer period of time. Add cinnamon for immune-boosting antioxidants to help keep viruses at bay. If you’re looking for something cold and simple, revisit some sliced turkey – a great source of lean protein – and add to a wholegrain sandwich with avocados for disease-fighting antioxidants and a whole range of vitamins, from K to E.
Tip 4: Don’t let the weather in
In addition to keeping your heating costs down, weather proofing your home will also help you avoid issues from damp and mould, which can have serious health consequences too. Make sure you have insulation in the right places – if you don’t then many energy companies offer free insulation as part of government schemes. The same goes for boilers, if you fulfill the criteria then you might be eligible for a new, free boiler. Appraise your home with a critical eye and look at gaps and holes or anywhere that cold or water can come in – make sure you’re also extracting moisture in the air properly i.e. are your extractor fans working? This will impact on how damp the air feels.
Tip 5: Look out for savings
One of the reasons that winter can feel longer and harder than the summer months is that we need more of everything, and everything costs more. We tend to eat more in winter, we need more heating, we spend more time in the car and we buy new clothes. Prepare for the winter ahead by planning savings into your budget to make sure you’re ready for the spikes in spending that can occur. Identify which foods you might be able to buy in bulk in order to cut costs, look at restocking wardrobes for you – or for children – from second hand buys, rather than brand new looks, and perhaps plan a few car free weekends when you know that you won’t have to budget for petrol.
Tip 6: Don’t panic
The depths of winter can feel pretty grim, especially in a country like the UK where we seem to get more than our fair share of rainy days and grey skies. However, don’t panic! Spring will come around again, it always does, and when the sun does finally come out, most of us will probably start complaining that it’s too hot…
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Alex Hartley is a keen advocate of improving personal finance skills. She's worked at Solution Loans since 2014 and written hundreds of articles about how people can manage their money better. Her interest in personal finance goes way back to...Read more about Alex Hartley