Winter can feel like an onerous time for budgeting – with darker, colder days we need more heat and light than in the summertime, plus many of us tend to eat more too. Then there’s the annual wardrobe overall, a good winter coat and that irritating thing that children do of outgrowing their clothes each season and needing an entire new wardrobe. However, no matter what your budget, there are ways to make it work for you this winter.
Switch your energy provider
Make sure you’re getting the lowest possible prices for your gas and electricity by doing a price comparison online. If there is a better deal out there then make the switch now before the weather really changes – you could save yourself several hundred pounds a year like this. It’s a fact that in any given year only around 20% of homes switch suppliers. Surely it can’t be the case that the 80% who don’t switch are all 100% happy with their supplier and what they are charged? It only takes 5-10 minutes using one of the well-known comparison sites to see if you could save. So don’t be lazy!
Winter-proof your home
Energy efficiency is a great idea, not just with respect to the environment but also our bank accounts. The less money you’re paying out on monthly energy bills, the more there is for other costs and it’s not hard to winter-proof your home. Stop draughts with a simple draught excluder or using foam or caulk to fill up structural holes, invest in heavy curtains or upgrade your windows to ensure they’re keeping heat in and cold out. Make sure you have good insulation and an efficient boiler – many energy providers will offer you this for free as part of the Energy Company Obligations (ECO) scheme if you’re eligible.
Buy and cook in bulk
When it comes to food, buying the basics in large quantities can save you a lot of money. Store cupboard essentials such as pasta, rice, beans, tinned vegetables, long-life milk and dried fruit can all be purchased in larger amounts to cut the cost of monthly food budgets. If you have a sizeable freezer then this is a great way to bring down the cost of frozen vegetables, meat and bread. Cook up cheap, large dishes such as stews and soups or pasta sauces and then portion them out over a period of several days so that you can spread the cost of one meal over a longer stretch of time.
If you’re looking for a new coat this year then don’t head straight for a brand new high street option, browse your local charity shop instead. Not only can you find some great designs in a charity shop but you will often find that the quality of something made in the 1970s, for example, is much better than the more contemporary synthetic materials. Plus, you could end up with some designer threads for a fraction of the cost of buying them new. When shopping for kids, try online exchanges – teens might turn their noses up but these kinds of forums are ideal for younger kids who will grow up and out of everything fast.
Keep track of spending
This is probably the most basic of budgeting tactics – write everything down, keep all your receipts and keep an eye on what your outgoings are from one month to the next. The most effective budgets will estimate weekly spend on food, travel, entertainment etc, as well as factoring in those regular monthly payments, such as rent, energy bills and phone bills. If you really want to spend out on something then factor it into your budget in advance so that you know where the money is going to come from to pay for it.
Have a safety net
Winter can be an expensive time so it’s a good idea to know where your safety net cash is going to come from just in case you do need it. Whether you save a little each month so that you have a slush fund for emergencies, or you find a credit card, loan or credit facility that suits your circumstances and helps you manage your finances at the lowest cost for you, just make sure that you’re prepared just in case something unexpected should arise. And if the worst happens you can find sources of short term cash on our website.
Don’t get lazy
We all tend to feel a little sluggish during the winter months and that can translate into costly laziness. Instead of resorting to taking the car everywhere you go, or ordering taxis, layer up and get out and go for a walk instead – you’ll keep fit and keep costs down that way. If the family weekend is turning into a feast of takeaways and movies then get everyone out and go to a Christmas fair, jump on the bikes and see how the countryside changes during the winter months or simply plan a lovely long walk on a Sunday – if you need to provide motivation then crumpets and tea when you get home can be very inspirational!
Oliver Jones has written for Solution Loans since 2015. His passion for personal finance comes through in the 150+ blog posts he's written since that time. His talent for explaining all things money means he's covered topics as diverse as...Read more about Oliver Jones