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
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.
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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