Winter is a time when many people tend to overspend. Not only is it the time for holiday shopping, but browsing through stores and spending money is one way to fend off the boredom that comes with being stuck indoors due to the weather. To help keep your spending under control, here are a few tips to follow this winter season.
Tip #1: Save on Energy Cost
The first step you can take toward saving money this winter is to take measures to help with saving on energy costs. To do this, be sure you have a proper seal around your doors and windows. If necessary, caulk around these areas in order to keep the warm air in and the cold air out. It is also a good idea to install a programmable thermostat. With a programmable thermostat, you can set your heat to go down while you are at work and while you are at sleep. At the same time, you can program the heat to kick back up right before you wake up or come home from work. This way, you don’t have to deal with the colder temperatures inside.
Tip #2: Use Your Reward Points and Flexible Spending Dollars
If you have been building up rewards points on your credit card, now is a good time to use them. In fact, this can be a great way to buy gifts for your loved ones without breaking the bank. Exchanging your rewards points for gift cards and other items is a good way to bring joy this holiday season without increasing your debt.
The end of the year is also time to look at your flexible spending accounts. In most cases, any dollars that you do not spend by the end of the year are lost. If you have money in these accounts, assess your needs and determine how you can wisely use those dollars before they are no longer available to you.
Tip #3: Prepare Yourself for Your End-of-Year Review
Many employers dole out their raises at the end of the year when they do their annual performance review. Visit sites such as Salary.com and PayScale.com in order to get a better idea of the salary you should expect to earn. Also, make a list of your accomplishments for the year and come prepared to discuss them with your employer as you explain why you deserve a raise.
Tip #4: Be a Smart Shopper
The days leading up to Christmas often present a number of great shopping opportunities. While you should certainly take full advantage of these deals whenever you can, it is also important to resist the temptation to purchase something simply because it is on sale. Impulse shopping and frantic “last minute” shopping are the main culprits that lead to overspending with many holiday shoppers.
Tip #5: Make Good Food Decisions
It is easy to give in to the idea of going out to eat all of the time, but this is not good for your waistline or for your pocketbook. Hearty foods such as chili and stew are delicious in the winter, are easy to make and cost very little to prepare on your own. With all of the holidays the winter months provide, look for ways to use your leftovers creatively so no food goes to waste.