6 Winter Money Wasters You Can Avoid

When you live in a colder climate, the winter season can feel like a wonderland. But once the holiday magic wears off in January, you might notice your expenses piling up. In between holiday shopping and rising electric bills, you might get a bit of sticker shock.

Luckily, you can avoid racking up the bills this year. We’ve got six winter savings tips to help you keep your finances under control this year:

  1. Set a Holiday Budget
  2. Use a Cashback Credit Card
  3. Keep the Thermostat Low
  4. Pare Down Your Gift List
  5. Winterize Your Home
  6. Sign Up for ExtraCredit

1. Set a Holiday Budget

If you’re not keeping track of how much you’re spending as you do your holiday shopping, expenses can add up pretty quickly. One of the best ways to save money this winter is to make a plan before you head out—or open up your browser to shop online. Make a list of everyone you have to buy for, including often-forgotten people like teachers and workplace Secret Santas, and then give everyone a budget amount. 

When you’re done with the math, are the bills a bit higher than expected? It’s time to start cutting back. This could be on the number of people you buy for or the per-person budget. Once you have a budget that works for you, stick to it. It’s easy to justify just one extra thing there or $20 over budget here, but you’ll regret it when the holidays are over and your savings are thin.

2. Use a Cashback Credit Card

Offset some of that holiday shopping by using a cashback credit card. As you buy the gifts you were going to anyway, you’ll rack up some rewards. Cashback rewards can vary from 1% all the way to 10% or more, depending on your card and where you’re shopping, which is like getting an almost-instant discount on your shopping list. Just make sure to pay the balance off in full every month to ensure those rewards don’t get gobbled up by interest.

If you’re looking for killer cashback rewards, check out Reward It from ExtraCredit®. As soon as you sign up for ExtraCredit, we’ll send you your very own debit card loaded with $5. Every time you qualify and accept select credit offers in your ExtraCredit Reward It module, we’ll load more money on your reward card.

3. Keep the Thermostat Low

Keeping warm in the winter is important, but it doesn’t have to blow your budget on energy usage. Before you turn the thermostat up, make sure you’re dressed appropriately for the season. A cozy sweatshirt, fuzzy socks and a warm blanket can help you stay toasty as the temps drop. A space heater or heated blanket can help warm up small areas, and make sure to have ceiling fans turning clockwise for winter to push hot air back down.

4. Whittle Down Your Gift List

Is your gift list adding up to more than your holiday budget? You might need to only get gifts for your close friends or family. But if you’d like to get gifts for your friends, suggest a cheaper option, like a cookie exchange or a white elephant party. And who knows? Your friends might appreciate a budget-friendly option.

5. Winterize Your Home

If you live in a cold climate, the winter months can wreak havoc on your energy bills. But you can cut some costs by being proactive. Putting plastic up on the windows and draft guards under the doors can keeps the cold air at bay and keeps the warm air in .

Most energy companies offer free or low-cost energy audit services that can help you identify where you may be losing heat in your home and what you can do about it. All this adds up to some serious winter savings on your monthly bills.

6. Sign Up for ExtraCredit

Keeping track of your credit can help you stay on top of your financial goals and see where all that hard work is taking you. ExtraCredit gives you access to dozens of your credit scores, and you can also find special offers for cashback rewards that can put a little more money back in your winter budget.

What’s the Trick to Saving Money?

Looking to save a little extra this winter season? The two main tricks are to have some kind of budgeting system and stay consistent. Some people like to use cash envelopes, while others prefer more mobile-friendly tools such as Excel spreadsheets or budgeting apps. Experiment with different options to see what works best for you and your method of handling your finances.

It’s also important to remember that learning how to budget takes time. You probably won’t be great at it at first, and you’re almost guaranteed to have forgotten irregular expenses like car maintenance or paying someone to plow the driveway in the winter. Keep making tweaks and eventually you’ll have a system that works well, lets you know where you’re spending your money and helps you pad your savings.

What Is the 30-Day Rule?

The 30-day rule is a personal finance rule designed to help people combat “I want it now” syndrome. It states that if you see something you want to purchase that’s not already in your budget, you have to wait at least 30 days. Most people find that by the end of those 30 days, they realize they didn’t really want or need the item or they’re sure it’s a good financial decision and they’re ready to make the purchase.

Keep Your Expenses Low this Winter

The winter months are some of the most expensive for many people, but they don’t have to put your financial goals off track. By paying attention to your expenses and spending with attention, you can ensure you still have some money left over for winter savings.

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