Do you need to start saving money this winter? With Christmas spending averaging around £800 per household, and with some bills going up over the winter season, the most wonderful time of the year can easily become the most expensive.
If you dread checking your bank statements through the winter months, you are not alone.
Try these tips for saving money this winter:
Save money on household bills
Shop around for cheaper utilities
In 2013, there were roughly 3.2 million energy switches carried out. Some of the households, switching to a cheaper energy supplier, saved upwards of £300.
During the winter, your energy use is at a peak. The average household uses 50% more energy.
You will be preparing more hot meals. You’ll have the heating on more frequently. Your tumble dryer will be working overtime. All these things add up.
Being stuck on an expensive energy tariff can have a big impact on your bank balance.
By comparing energy suppliers, finding the best deal and switching, you could enjoy cheaper gas and electricity through the coldest months of the year.
Don’t waste water
Through the winter, you’re more likely to get home and run a bath. The hot water costs money, so be careful not to fill the bath too much.
Leaving a bath unattended is one of the easiest ways to waste water.
You’ll also be preparing more hot drinks. A smooth hot chocolate is the perfect treat at the end of a long, cold day.
Don’t fill your kettle to the top. Add just enough water for the drinks that you’re making. Energy is wasted if it’s used to boil water that you will not use.
If you have a habit of boiling too much water in your kettle, why not fill your mug before you start? Then, you can pour the water from the mug to the kettle and back again.
Switch off the lights
On a warm summer day, you may not need to use the lights at all. Through winter, they may even be on at midday.
Get into the habit of switching lights off, each time you leave a room.
One 60 watt lightbulb will cost 8p per day to run, if left on for a total of 10 hours. This might not sound like much, but that’s £30 per year for just one bulb.
Have a winter budgeting day
It is a good idea to look over your household budget every couple of months. Use this time just to make sure everything is accurate.
Once a year, go over everything in more detail.
Think of your winter budgeting day as the cold weather equivalent of the spring clean. This should be a day set aside for looking over your budget. As well as looking for cheaper energy details, you should consider your other expenditure.
Do you need the entertainment package that you are paying for? If you can’t imagine living without it, try a quick call to your provider. Many will offer a cheaper price, if you tell them you’re considering leaving.
Run insurance quotes. Even if your insurance renewal isn’t yet due, this can give you a better idea of how much your next renewal will cost. That way, there are no surprises next year.
If you’re currently making repayments on a loan or hire purchase agreement, check if it’s due to end over the next 12 months. If you have savings, consider if it’s worth making an early payment in full. This could reduce the interest that you pay.
A thorough review of your household budget can alert you to any errors. It can also help you to think more objectively about those areas of high spending.
Make your review into an annual activity involving every member of your family. Young children will learn good money management habits at an early age. Also every adult will be clear about the part that their spending is playing.
Save money on days out and leisure
Reduce the cost of dining out
The festive season provides a great opportunity to get the family together.
Often, family meals take place in pubs and restaurants.
Whilst it could be cheaper to cook at home, you might not have the time, space or energy.
Dining out can be expensive. Through the winter, you may find that invitations mount up.
Here are a few tips to help you to keep the spending down:
Check the menu before you leave the house
Most places have their menu online. Check this before you leave. Plan your meal, calculate the total cost and consider any cheaper alternatives.
If you’re put on the spot by a waiter, you’re likely to make a split-second decision. This could be expensive, so it helps to prepare.
Use supermarket loyalty vouchers
Some supermarket loyalty cards come with the option to trade your points for restaurant vouchers.
Trade yours in, if you are not planning to use them for Christmas shopping.
Often, the value of your points will double or triple. You’ll also be spending money that doesn’t come straight from your debit card, which is great news for your budget.
Check the mail for discount vouchers. Many retailers will send them in the months leading up to Christmas, so it is always worth looking at your junk mail.
Search for special offers
Before going out, check the website and Facebook page of the restaurant or pub that you’re visiting.
They may be offering a voucher or discount code, perhaps in exchange for signing up for their newsletter.
This could entitle you to £5 off your bill, or a free drink.
When you’re checking the menu, be sure to look for any deals and offers.
Popular pub offers include two main meals for £10, or an early bird discount if you dine before 5pm.
Consider the set menu
A set menu usually contains a limited choice of starters, main courses and desserts.
Purchasing from the set menu can save you money.
You won’t have the same array of dishes to choose between, but may find something that you like for a fraction of the price.
Go for more winter walks
It can be tempting to lock yourself away through the winter.
Instead, face the cold.
Go out for winter walks with your wellies and waterproofs.
A walk provides a great opportunity to spend quality time with your family. There are many other benefits, as well.
You’ll save money on your energy bills because you won’t be inside using the heating, the TV and various other gadgets.
You will also be able to avoid spending money on other activities. Walking is absolutely free.
Look out for free festive events
Starting as early as Halloween, which is in autumn, and going right through to the New Year, there will be many festive activities on offer.
Some activities cost money. Others won’t cost a thing. It’s possible to fill your calendar, keeping all the family happy, without spending anything at all.
Do you know a good spot to watch the fireworks on bonfire night? Hilly areas above towns are perfect for the best view.
Santa might be going through a nearby village on his sleigh. Community New Year celebrations are becoming quite popular, too.
Many of these events can cost a lot, if you’re tempted by the extras on sale. But with a bit of willpower you should have no trouble keeping your family occupied.
Save money on travel
Check your tyre pressure
It is important to check your tyre pressures regularly.
In winter, looking after your tyres can reduce your chance of an accident. Slippery, icy roads and poorly maintained tyres can combine with disastrous consequences.
As the weather gets colder, your tyre pressures will drop. If you don’t add more air, your car runs less efficiently. The tyres don’t run as smoothly across the ground, which means that you’ll use more fuel to reach your destination.
If you want to limit the amount of times that you’ll need to stand in the cold next to a petrol pump, take time to inflate your tyres to the correct air pressure.
Book a last-minute package holiday
If you’re planning a winter holiday, then it may be worth booking last minute.
Late deals can result in big savings.
If you go all inclusive, you won’t need to worry about the extra money that you’ll need for all your meals. This is particularly important through the winter, when restaurants will be busier and prices are likely to be higher.
Save money on shopping and spending
Stick to a Christmas present budget
Don’t be tempted to spend too much on Christmas presents.
You’re likely to find this particularly hard, if you have children to buy for. You’ll always see “just one more thing” that you want.
Before you start your Christmas shopping, you should set a clear budget for each person. Make sure that this budget comes from available cash, not from a credit card or loan. Then, stick to the budget that you’ve planned.
There are many ways to buy low cost gifts for Christmas, without resorting to expensive credit.
If you’re short on money, set a small budget rather than getting into debt to buy gifts. You’ll feel far better coming out of Christmas without any extra debt.
Cut the cost of your morning coffee
If you need a quick caffeine fix to get you started on a winter morning, then it’s worth getting it from the supermarket.
Visiting the coffee shop every morning before work could cost more than £500 per year. Buying coffee from the supermarket will dramatically cut your coffee expenses.
A coffee budget of £40 is not unusual, for habitual coffee shop customers.
If coffee from the jar just doesn’t cut it, you may even be able to save money by buying your own coffee machine.
You can buy 16 Tassimo pods for £4. The machine itself can be bought for around £100 (or as little as £40 refurbished on eBay).
After the initial outlay, you could cut your morning coffee costs by more than 75%.
Avoid the temptation of New Year sales
Prices are higher before Christmas. Try only to buy the essentials.
After Christmas, the New Year sales begin.
This is the perfect time to pick up those things that you need, but have avoided buying at their full price.
Buying items during the January sales could save you money. Or, they could have the opposite effect.
Don’t be tempted by the low prices of things that you didn’t intend to buy.
Find out where your food is cheapest
Playing host, when your relatives visit, can be a financial burden.
Though it’s always night to get together with family, the food costs can quickly mount up.
Use MySupermarket for grocery price comparison.
You’ll be able to see which supermarket is selling your favourite premade Yorkshire Puddings at the lowest price. You can also see the cheapest deals on festive chocolates and wine.
MySupermarket will find you the lowest total, so that you can buy from just one supermarket.
If you have time to spare and feel brave enough to embrace the Christmas rush, you can find the cheapest items at each shop and visit them all individually.
During the winter months, when Grandma visits more often and your extended family show up on Christmas Eve, this is a useful way to save money.
Saving money this winter: your tips
How do you save money through the winter months?
Share your thoughts, tips and ideas. From penny-pinching savings that Scrooge would be proud of to the big bank balance boosters that will make your New Year start with a bang.