10 Creative Ways to Cut Costs This Winter

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By Kimberly Palmer

The winter months can be expensive: They often encompass holiday shopping, travel, splurges that cheer you up on cold days and larger-than-usual electricity bills. Even winter clothing can be pricier than summer apparel, since outfits include bulky jackets and boots. U.S. News Frugal Shopper contributors offer ideas to keep your costs down as the temperature drops.

10 Creative Ways to Cut Costs This Winter
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10 Creative Ways to Cut Costs This Winter

When the holidays roll around, many people have the urge to decorate, but making your house look like a Pottery Barn catalog can be pricey. That's where nature can help. Kerry Sherin, U.S. News Frugal Shopper contributor and marketing associate at Offers.com, recommends collecting maple leaves, acorns and pine branches and turning them into craft projects.

When you're using four wheels to reach your family for the holidays, you can save lots of cash on plane fare. Jon Lal, U.S. News Frugal Shopper contributor and CEO of BeFrugal.com, points out that investing in a thorough check of your car, including the air pressure in the tires, before your road trip home can potentially save you even more money by reducing the risk of a breakdown and improving fuel efficiency.

If you have to fly to get home for the holidays, then you'll want to consider making your plans early, Sherin suggests. That's because some of the best deals are available in early November. Traveling on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, if you can arrange your schedule to accommodate that, can also help.

Since spending tends to go up as we purchase gifts for the holidays, it's especially important to review your credit card and bank statements carefully to make sure there aren't any errant charges, Lal says. You'll want to be on guard against identity thieves who attempt to steal your information and create accounts in your name. 

After working hard to grow your own produce, you'll want to protect those veggies from winter frost. Lal suggests selecting some plants that can thrive in cooler weather, such as mums and pansies, and trimming your perennials and removing any diseased portions. Weeding can also help maintain your garden, even in the winter months. 

Just because the holidays roll around doesn't mean you have to shower your significant other with presents, blowing your budget in the process. Instead, John Schmoll, U.S. News Frugal Shopper contributor and founder of the website Frugal Rules, suggests giving gifts that say “I care, but I'm also frugal,” such as doing a chore for your loved one or making a loving card.

Whether it's making yourself coffee in the morning so you don’t purchase $4 concoctions at the coffee shop or buying a new water bottle so you avoid purchasing water on the go, Lauren Greutman, U.S. News Frugal Shopper contributor and founder of the website iamthatlady.com, says small changes can have a big impact on your budget. Making your lunch at home and avoiding buying extra snacks can also help, she says.

Avoiding too many holiday-themed items around the house can also help you keep costs down, says Kendal Perez, U.S. News Frugal Shopper contributor and spokeswoman for CouponSherpa.com. There's no need to purchase new soap that smells like pine or cranberry-scented candles, and doing so can add to the sense of clutter around your home.

Free fall activities are plentiful, Lal says. He recommends going on a walk that includes hunting for specific types of leaves. Raking leaves in your backyard or observing neighborhood decorations can also be frugal, yet enjoyable, ways to spend time together as a family.

If you haven't started making your shopping list yet, you should probably begin today. Setting a budget and planning to take advantage of sales is one way to keep costs down, says Lori McDaniel, U.S. News Frugal Shopper contributor and senior content manager at Offers.com. That way, you don't have to feel rushed, which can lead to poor shopping decisions.

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