1. Check Your Thermostat.
Chances are, your house probably doesn’t need to be 80 degrees in the wintertime. Experiment to see where you can be comfortable living in your home. You don’t want to be an icicle in your own home, but it’s worth a look to see if you can cut back on how much you are heating your home. Once you find a temperature that works for everyone in the house, when someone gets a chill, break out the warm socks and sweatshirts instead of turning up the thermostat a few degrees.
Many thermostats are also programmable to come on at certain times of day. If your house is empty during the day while everyone is at work or school, consider setting the thermostat to turn off while everyone is gone and then to turn on again an hour before the first person gets home. This will ensure that your house will be heated when people are living there, but also saves you hours’ worth of heating dollars each day.
2. Make Your Gift-Buying Budget
As boring as the word “budget” may sound, it’s important that you learn to make and stick to a budget, especially during the holiday season when gift-buying nearly becomes an obsession. Just make a list of everyone to whom you’d like to give a gift. From there, revise your list by crossing off people who you don’t REALLY need to buy for and for whom a card would suffice! You’re already saving money! From there, set a dollar amont for each person and then add it up. If it’s too high, revise the dollar amounts until you are happy with your budget. You can make your budget anytime and you can use UCCU’s handy Money Manager tool on Personal Branch. Once your holiday budget is in place, stick to it!
3. Don’t overlook the Dollar Store.
Stay with me on this one. You may not want to get your mom a tchotchke tucked away in the neighborhood dollar store, but dollar stores are a great resource for wrapping paper, gift bags, tape, tinsel, and various other holiday sundries you might need for decorating or gift-giving.
4. Apply for UCCU’s Platinum Rewards Card! If you are eligible for the card, you’ll receive a 1% cash back (need details) on all your spending from the card for the whole year, which cash is deposited right into your account…in December, right in the middle of all the gift-buying and gift-giving. Perfect timing, no?
5. Entertain Yourselves at Home
It may sound silly, but it’s during these winter months that people tend to look to outside sources for food and entertainment. Even though the weather may sometimes be frightful during the winter, many families find that getting warm dinner for takeout on the way home from work is easier than coming home and trying to fix something warm and filling. By eating out often, the money (and the calories) will quickly add up. Try making crock-pot meals that are warm and hearty, and can be ready when you walk in the door. Another trick is to make a menu at the beginning of the week, so a plan to eat at home is already in place.
Sometimes people tend to get a little cabin fever during the winter months, so it is important to spend time out and about. However, constantly spending money to find entertainment can add up as quickly as eating out does. Movies aren’t cheap and “window shopping” at the mall inevitably turns into breaking the budget over great deals you find. Try renting a movie for at dollar instead of spending $9 per ticket at the theatre. Before you buy at the mall, look online to see if you can find a better deal…or identify if you just get caught up in the rush of shopping when you’re at the mall.