Winter time is here again, and along with the cold weather, comes the added expense of increased energy bills, maintenance costs, and, of course, holiday shopping. Here are some savvy financial tips to get you through the Winter months.
Winter is a wonderful time of year: cooler weather, holidays spent away from work and surrounded by friends and loved ones, and an onslaught of twinkling holiday decorations. For many, Winter is the best time of the year. Of course, with all of that cheer and time off, it can also be a time where wallets are strained and financial discipline goes out the window.
One area, in particular, where we see money being wasted during this time period is through wasted energy. In addition to added lighting costs (courtesy of those shiny blinking Christmas lights), we also tend to crank up the heater to keep the chills out and the warmth inside. This, of course, causes an increase in monthly utility bills.
To trim this added expense a little, there are a few simple steps you can take. For starters, if it is only mildly cold, consider putting on a sweater or cozy up in a nice blanket. Added clothing will usually keep you warm without burning a hole in your wallet. Another option is to run you ceiling fan in reverse. While this won’t “heat” the room, it will force warm air (hot air rises to the ceiling) back into the room, making you more comfortable. This option is much cheaper then turning up the heat on your thermostat.
Another great way to save during the cold season is to create a Winter or holiday budget. With Thanksgiving, Christmas, and other holidays all packed into such a short time period, there are a lot of added expenses when it comes to entertaining friends and family – not to mention purchasing gift. Be realistic about what that turkey day is going to cost you and set limits on yourself so that you do not go overboard. Ask dinner attendees to bring a side dish or bottle of wine – this not only cuts down on dinner costs, but also lets your guests feel more involved.
When it comes to buying gifts, make a shopping list and plan where you will purchase items well before you leave the house. Heading to the mall without a solid plan (that you should stick to) can cost you much more than you may have anticipated spending.
Also, try to pay for everything in cash. The temptation to put it all on a credit card may be difficult to avoid, but just remember you will be paying premium for those gifts once the percentage rate associated with credit cards kicks in, and you will be adding a strain on your future monthly finances.
Finally, the last quarter of the year is an excellent time to ask for a raise. You put in a lot of extra effort this year most likely, and you deserve the reward. After all, the best way to offset all of the money going out of your bank account each month is to increase the amount going in! So don’t be shy, put together a document detailing all of the work you did for the year and why you think you should get a pay increase and schedule some time to meet with your superior. It never hurts to ask!