12 Frugal Living Tips for Winter
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Winter is often thought-of as being the most expensive time of the year. First the holiday season kicks things off with a bang (and a hefty price tag). Then there are the extra costs for heating and powering our homes.
Plus, since the weather is often cold, dark and gloomy, there aren’t as many fun, free things to do outdoors, so it’s easy to blow your budget on other things that will help you beat cabin fever like eating out, going to the movies and even going shopping just for something to do.
But the flip side to this is that, once January hits, many people are motivated by the fresh start the new year brings and are ready to hunker down for a while and get their finances on track after the holidays. So in many ways that makes winter the perfect time of year to adopt some frugal habits.
If you want to know more about ways to have a frugal holiday season, check out this post: 10 Frugal Living Tips for Christmas.
Otherwise, the following frugal living tips apply all winter long (and certain ones apply all year long!)
1. Have a No-Spend Month
While November and December probably aren’t the best candidates for extreme frugal living, January is the perfect time to plan a no-spend month.
A no-spend month (also called a spending freeze) simply means you don’t spend any money on anything that isn’t a necessity. This means no dining out, no clothes shopping, no beauty products or subscriptions or fancy stuff, and stick to a budget for essentials like groceries, housing and transportation.
For more help with creating a budget, check out the Money & Budgeting section of our Free Resource Library.
2. Plan Meals Around What’s in Your Pantry
Another reason why January makes such a great candidate for a no-spend month is because your fridge, freezer and pantry are likely loaded with leftovers from Christmas and other food you’ve put up throughout the year. So it’s easy to save money on groceries by shopping from your pantry and planning meals around what you have on hand
Related: How to Shop From Your Pantry Like A Pro
Of course, you can and should make a habit of this all year long! But right after the holidays is an extra-good time to eat from your pantry and fill in the gaps on budget for everything else.
For more help with meal planning, grocery shopping on budget and shopping from your pantry, check out the Meal Planning section of my Free Resource Library.
3. Learn a New Money-Saving Skill
Winter’s a great time to learn a new skill, especially when it comes to homesteading. Since we aren’t so busy gardening and preserving, we can take more time to learn something more time-consuming and involved like sourdough bread-baking, knitting, quilting, soap-making, candle-making or cooking on a wood stove.
Related: 13 Winter Activities for Modern Homesteaders
It’s also a good time of year to slow down and read up on any new skills you’d like to learn. Take advantage of having some extra time on your hands and fully immerse yourself in something you want to master. Just remember: one thing at a time if you really want to get good at something.
4. Go to the Library
I love the library. I don’t use it as much as I should, but every time I go back to the library I ask myself why I don’t go there more often.
You can take out an unlimited number of books, DVDs, magazines and even toys from some libraries, all for free! It’s also a great place to get out of the bad weather and hang out for a while if you just can’t stand to be home anymore but you don’t want to be outside either.
5. Get Warm for Free
One of the most expensive things about winter is the extra expense of heating your house during the coldest months of the year. Find frugal and free ways to warm up by layering your clothes, warming your house with a wood stove (if possible) or cuddling up on the couch with a big warm blanket and someone you love.
For more ideas on how to stay warm for free during the winter, check out this post.
6. Spend Time “Off the Grid”
Along with using less electric heating, you can save money in the winter by using less electricity over all. Turn off lights and light candles. You can even learn to make your own soy candles to save even more money and light your home naturally all winter long.
Unplug appliances and electronics that aren’t being used. Cook on the wood stove if you have one. Take a technology break (and a break from unnatural screen light) and read by the light of an oil lamp.
Using less electricity doesn’t just mean more money in your pocket, it’s good for your mental wellbeing to take a break from screen time and unnatural lighting as much as possible.
7. Go Skating
Skating is another frugal winter activity that typically only costs a few bucks for some rink time and skate rentals. Many sports centers even offer free skates for families, kids and teens on certain days throughout the winter season.
If you live somewhere where it gets cold enough for a lake or pond to freeze over, you can even skate for free! Maybe even grab a couple hockey sticks and a puck and play a pick-up game:)
8. Have Fun in the Snow
If there’s snow on the ground (or on nearby mountains), you can have a full day of fun in the snow for next to nothing. Get the kids together to build a snowman. Go sledding. Have a snowball fight. Or just grab some hot chocolate and go for a snowy, winter walk through the woods or down a country road.
9. Play Board Games
Winter is the perfect time of year to sit at home and play games with the whole family. This could mean card and dice games like Yahtzee, Poker, Crib or Go Fish, board games like Scrabble, Trivial Pursuit or Clue, or more “active” games like Pictionary, Charades or Twister!
10. Have a Family Movie Night at Home
The cold winter months are the best time to snuggle up together and have a family movie night, complete with homemade popcorn, popped over the wood stove perhaps? Whether you watch Netflix, Amazon Prime or a good “old-fashioned” DVD, having a family movie night makes staying in a little more entertaining and is way more frugal than going to see a movie at the theatres.
11. Have a Romantic Candlelight Dinner at Home
Whether it’s Valentine’s Day or Saturday night, make it a little more special for no extra cost by enjoying a nice candlelight dinner at home. Cook a nice meal, set the table, dim or turn off all the lights, play a little mood music and get dressed up for dinner at home. There’s no reason why eating in can’t be just as fun as eating out!
12. Go on “Staycation”
Save money on travel and enjoy a staycation in the comfort of your own home this winter. By the end of January/early February, I really start missing the warm, sunny weather, and so I find myself craving things that remind me of sun like tropical fruits and exotic foods. A great way to treat yourself when you can’t afford an actual vacation to Mexico or Hawaii is to have a little staycation at home with all of the things that remind you of warmer days.
Start by preparing your home for your stay. First, tidy up, do all of the chores that need being done like laundry and dishes. Make the bed (and maybe even put a chocolate on each pillow), break out the fancy soap, candles and towels, and then, prepare for your stay.
If you’re going for a tropical theme, cut up some fruit like pineapples, mangos and limes. Stock up on coconut milk for making piña coladas and exotic soups that will warm you up on your winter staycation. Prepare a playlist of “summertime” music or something that reminds you of a sunny vacation like reggae music (my go-to!)
Spend your time however you would on vacation. Have a nice meal, pamper yourself (at home pedicure perhaps?), maybe dress up to have drinks and go dancing with your partner… Yolo, right? If you can’t afford a real beach vacation, you at least deserve to treat yourself to a staycation instead;)
Frugal Living Tips for Every Season
Post-holiday season winter is the perfect time to cut back on our spending and get back on a budget that works. These frugal living tips will help you cut back on non-essential spending and save more money this winter while still having fun.
For more frugal living tips for every season, check out the following posts:
Wishing you health, wealth & homestead happiness:)
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It seems like this time of year, regardless of the season or which side of the world we are on is the most expensive. Here it is so hot that those who have air conditioning have them on all the time, and spend very little time outside. We dont have aircon but we do have ceiling fans. I have the ones in the living areas on all day and turn them off at night. The bedroom fan goes on at night and stays on till the next morning. We have a three light rule in this house. There will be no more than three lights on at once. Once dinner and the dishes are done all the lights go off and we just have the light of the TV. If I want to crochet I have a lamp that gets turned on.
Here in Australia post Christmas sales are on. These are big sales and often are worth spending to get required items. It is a good time to stock up on pantry items as well. It is also a time when it is easy to get lured in to purchase extra items. I stay away from the stores as much as possible.
I use the Library as a means of getting all the usual things but also as a place to enjoy the cool of the aircon.
Hope that Ryan’s job hunting or ‘Hire a Hubby’ home maintenance business is getting sorted out. I am off to have a mango smoothie for brekkie. I live in the sub tropics, 150m from the beach. I am on holidays all the time.
So true. This time of year is expensive across the board regardless of whether it’s summer or winter whereto are. Especially as the world gets hotter in the summertime, the cost of air conditioning rivals the cost of heating! Actually, it’s probably worse because at least you can use a wood stove to heat your house but you pretty much need electricity to run an air conditioner and cool down. Plus there’s the added expense of the holidays no matter where you live.
I love the three light rule. I should try to implement that. We have a toddler who is currently into turning all the lights on that she can reach. Trying to teach her about conserving electricity right now but the concept is a bit advanced to say the least! But now that we have our wood stove running and I make my own candles so we can burn lots without worrying about paying good money to replace them, so we’ve reduced our overall electricity costs for the winter.
There are also still post-Christmas sales on here too, and if you have some extra cash they are well worth taking advantage of. That’s what I did last year and I put things away for this Christmas and shopped throughout the year and honestly this was the most affordable Christmas we’ve ever had (and thank God because it coincided with Ryan losing his job). Right now we’re keeping it super frugal and only spending on absolute necessities while we finish up our big building projects, specifically the laneway house so we can start earning a rental income. But Ryan is off building a shed for someone for a couple hundred bucks today so that will help until he has time to dedicate every day to his new business. There’s lots of work around here so I don’t think it will be hard for him to find work to fill his days.
Thanks again for your comment! Your little corner of the Earth sounds beautiful! Makes me miss Australia for sure. Where exactly are you> I envision Port Macquarie or something like that. So gorgeous there.
Anna we’re quite a bit further north of Port Maquarie. We’re in Hervey Bay Queensland, just south of Bundaburg. We’re a four hour drive north of Brisbane, about half way between Brisbane and Rockhampton. Fraser Island is just off the coast from us. It’s a sub tropical environment and at the moment it feels very tropical. We currently have high humidity and I am hoping this leads to a much needed storm. Stay warm and I will try to stay cool.
Oh yes, I’ve been to Fraser Island:) Will do! Nowadays we look forward to the “Goldilocks” off-seasons when it’s not too hot, not too cold but just right! Take care.