Winter On a Budget

winter on a budget
Winter can get expensive! Whenever I feel the temperatures dropping, one of my first thoughts is, “Great! Back to seeing $500 each month on our utilities bill.” Heating is of course a major expense during the winter, but there are other expenses including buying new coats for kids who have outgrown their old coats, taking the family car to the car shop to make sure it’s winter-ready, engaging in snow sports (downhill skiing can get expensive!), and paying for indoor activities (since you can’t take the kids to the park).

With some advance planning, you CAN manage your costs during winter. These are the things that work for me as I try to keep my family’s winter-related expenses in check.

Lower Your Heating Bill

You will see this advice everywhere on the Web as winter arrives, but it really does work: by simply adding an extra layer of clothing as lowering the heater thermostat to 68 degrees F, you can save significantly. I admit that I dislike walking around the house, or working in my home office, wearing a fleece sweater over my shirt, but when I keep the house at a toasty 72 degrees, I am very much aware of the waste.

Lowering your thermostat is obviously the easiest way to lower your electricity costs in the winter. More involved ways include insulating your windows and doors. Most experts agree that the cost does repay itself quickly.

winter on a budgetPay Less for Winter Clothing

It goes without saying that if you have more than one child of the sane sex, items such as winter coats should be handed down from one child to the next. The same is true for the extended family – children’s coats are relatively costly, and they only wear them for a few months before outgrowing them. It just doesn’t make sense to buy new if you can avoid it.

If you must buy a new winter coat for one of your kids, try to remember to purchase it at the end of the winter season in anticipation for next year. If you didn’t get a chance to buy off-season, you can still take advantage of winter sales such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Save on Skiing

My family loves to ski. Downhill skiing can get very expensive of course, when you take into account the cost of equipment, maintaining it, ski clothes and boots – especially for the kids who outgrow them each year, and of course the cost of travel, hotel, and lift tickets.

But even here there are ways to save. We always buy the kids’ ski equipment and clothing off-season. Each year, at the end of the season, I buy their stuff for the next year. I try very hard not to buy at peak prices. We also save on lift tickets by taking advantage of special offers. A few weeks ago my husband took a car (can’t remember the brand) on a test drive because they had offered a special promotion – free lift tickets to our favorite ski resort for anyone doing a test drive (and no, he did NOT end up buying the car).

Winter Activities

I find that winter presents more temptations than usual to spend on activities that I would not have considered otherwise. Instead of taking the kids to the park (100% free), we sometimes take them to an indoors playground, where we don’t just pay the entrance fee but also tend to purchase food and drinks, at an inflated price. Winter also feels like a great time to go to the movies and to other types of shows and performances.

There’s nothing wrong with taking in a movie or a show, of course, or even with occasionally going to an indoor playground. But as a general rule, we do try to find ways to enjoy ourselves in the winter that do not necessarily cost $100 per family. This may include renting a movie instead of going to the movies, going outside to jump in puddles, baking together, and plenty of other affordable winter activities.


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