Now that the holidays are over and we head into the dark and gloomy days of winter, don’t let the winter blues take their toll on your budget. Whether you’re spending extra on takeout during the cold season or find yourself indulging in retail therapy a little too often because of a bad mood, make sure you’re taking steps to keep the reins on your budget.
Making some smart spending decisions for the next few months can help you build up that savings account, and keep your budget in great shape for the year ahead. Here are some budget-friendly ways to kick those winter blues to the curb.
Cook at home more frequently
Even though it’s convenient to order takeout our pick up dinner on the way home from work on a chilly day, you will be paying a premium for that meal. Plan on cooking at home more frequently to save on the cost of food, and consider doubling a few recipes to freeze and store for future meals. Having some nutritious and tasty meals on hand can keep cravings at bay and also save you some money on last-minute food runs.
Check out free events in the community
If you’re feeling a little stir crazy and want to get out and do something fun over the weekend, take a look at your community calendar for free events such as craft fairs, winter festivals and live music or dance performances in your area. This can be a great way to meet new people in your neighborhood and enjoy some cultural or community events at little or no cost.
Log in a good workout
Exercising regularly is good for your health and has the added benefit of boosting your mood. Whether you enjoy running, swimming, indoor sports or yoga, hit the gym a few times a week to give your mood a boost on a dreary day. Regular exercise can also help you sleep better which in turn will help you look forward to a more positive day.
Plan a staycation
Playing tourist in your own city or town can be a great way to discover some hidden gems and enjoy a mini escape from the usual routine. Not only will you save money on the cost of a flight and accommodations for your getaway, but you can also take advantage of local deals and special offers from your favorite daily deals site. Put together an itinerary of fun activities you don’t usually have time for during the busy workweek, and map out your schedule for a weekend break right in your backyard.
Host a movie night with friends
Maintaining a social life when the weather calls for many nights in can be challenging, but you can take the lead and host a movie night for friends and family members. Prepare some snacks for the group, or have everyone pitch in with a snack or dinner item to turn the event into a potluck. This can be a fun way to reconnect with friends without spending a lot of money on dining out and entertainment.
Put together a reading list
If reading books has been put on the back burner lately, use some of that downtime to catch up on your reading list. Put together a list of books you want to read in the next couple months, or download some free excerpts from Amazon to review later. Whether you head to the library or buy a few books for the season, reading is a low-cost activity that will help you pass some time during the cold weather season – and may even teach you something new.
Recycle and repurpose items for the home
If you want to spruce up your place on a budget, think of ways to recycle and repurpose items you already have. From furnishings to home décor, think out of the box to work on a few creative projects this season. Search the Web or Pinterest for inspiration on themes and styles that will work for your living space. Paint existing furniture in a new hue, make new cushion covers or wall hangings out of material from the craft store or simply rearrange the furniture and décor to create a new look.