February Reading Roundup
By: Kaitlyn Farley · February 03, 2023 · Reading Time: 4 minutes
As the chill of winter hits its stride, energy, heat, and other bills may be starting to skyrocket. Whether money is already getting tight or you’re trying to prevent that from happening, now could be a great time to check your spending for potential budget cuts. If you’re trying to spend less, here are some categories in your budget you may want to look at a bit more closely.
Do you live in a cold climate? The odds are probably pretty high that you’re paying more for heat and electricity during the winter. Fortunately, there are many ways to stay warm while saving energy , such as investing in a heat pump or putting rugs on hardwood floors. And if your electric bill is high , consider swapping in energy-efficient LED light bulbs, investing in a programmable thermostat, or even simply shortening those hot showers.
Taking shorter showers could also help you lower your water bill, as will only using your dishwasher when it’s full or turning off the water when you brush your teeth. If you’re looking to cut back on utilities even further, you could also explore strategies for saving on gas , such as carpooling, keeping up with your vehicle maintenance, and even meal prepping.
Bills tend to be harder to lower, but it’s not impossible. One bill on many Americans’ minds right now is their student loan payment . If you’re able, you may want to continue paying on federal student loans now to take advantage of interest-free payments. And if you have private loans, try to pay above the minimum to avoid paying more in interest in the long term. If you need help paying your bills, you should consider reaching out sooner rather than later. Federal assistance programs could help you make ends meet during difficult financial times.
Got a furry friend? Then the odds are that you have another bill — or bills — to consider as well. Cats, dogs, and other larger pets can be expensive to take care of, with food, vet bills, and other costs adding up quickly. You could cut your pet-related expenses by considering pet health insurance, walking your pet yourself, and even joining a pet store loyalty club for discounts.
Do you know how much you spend on streaming, hobbies, parties, gifts, and more? If not, you may want to start tracking your entertainment expenses and taking a closer look at those not-so-necessary purchases. For instance, do you really use that Hulu subscription ? If not, cancel it! Are you spending a ton on expensive hobbies? Consider some cheaper activities, like learning a language through a free app or teaching your pet how to do tricks (just don’t splurge on the top-shelf pet treats!).
Parties and nights out with friends can really add up. Even kids’ birthday parties can get expensive! Whether you’re planning a party for your little one or a night out with old friends, you can cut costs by hanging out at free locations, like a park or a restaurant, as opposed to expensive arcades, zoos, museums, or other outings.
How often are you eating out? Do you throw away leftovers because they spoil before you get around to eating them? Meal prepping could help you manage your groceries better by helping you eat your food more efficiently and removing any need to eat out for lack of planning. Buying pantry staples in bulk could also be a cost-effective way of ensuring you don’t run out of non-perishable items that you use weekly or daily.
If you shop at expensive specialty grocery stores, it may also be time to check out some cheaper but still healthy grocery store options , like ALDI or Walmart. Also, consider clipping coupons, buying generic items, and other tricks to save money during your weekly shopping trips.
Whether you’re an occasional or a frequent traveler, there are ways to do it on a budget! Signing up for price drop alerts and traveling during the week can help cut costs, and there are a slew of travel apps that can also help you save money. You can even save on hotel stays by joining a hotel loyalty program, paying for lodging in advance, or even staying at a hotel with a free breakfast.
You could also save big by choosing a less-costly travel destination . For instance, New York City at any time of year will probably be more expensive than visiting the hot springs in South Dakota or even Orlando, Florida. You can double down on your savings by traveling during off-seasons , such as visiting New York City in the winter instead of the warmer months.
Around the Web
Looking for more ways to save during the winter months? Here’s what experts around the web recommend for staying warm on a budget:
• 9 DIY Tips to Lower Your Heating Bill this Winter | Eartheasy Guides & Articles
• How to Keep Warm and Save on Your Energy Bills This Winter | NRDC
• 12 ways to save energy and money this winter
Cutting costs during the winter doesn’t have to be complicated. Take a closer look at your utility bills and see how you could lower your bills, such as turning off lights when you leave a room or investing in a smart thermostat. You can also cut down on how much you spend on eating out or subscriptions like streaming or magazines.
Need help keeping track of your expenses? SoFi Insights® is a budgeting app that can track your income, set up financial goals, and help you keep tabs on your spending.
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