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How to Have a Fun and Frugal Winter

Winter, at least here in the Midwest, can be quite the myriad of spending habits, at least in our family.  With temperatures ranging from the mid-thirties to well below zero, depending on the day (and sometimes even in the same day!), there’s a wide variety of emotions that run along with winter.

There are days when the weather is such that we could easily spend the whole day outside, sledding, ice skating and playing in the snow.  Then there are there freezing cold days where we’re perfectly content to stay inside, huddling by the fire drinking hot cocoa.  There are also the “other” days in winter here: the days where we are going so stir crazy after several weeks and months of freezing cold temps, that we cast the cares of our frugal budget aside and start perusing the Internet for great deals on waterpark stays or winter vacations to warm, sunny destinations such as Florida.  But no matter what your winter habits are, you can find a way to enjoy them frugally, by following a few great tips. 

1.  Plan ahead.  Sometime during fall, figure out what kinds of things you’re going to plan and do to make the winter season pass more quickly.  Do you like to ice skate?  Find the local skating rinks in your area, or even a bit further out, and take a bit of a road trip.  Love to sled?  Search out the great public sledding hills in your area.  Do you downhill or cross country ski?  Search the area parks for cross country ski paths, and contact the local downhill ski lodges in your area, checking for early bird and season pass deals.  Start searching for flight prices to sunny destinations or waterpark ticket prices that reward you for booking in advance.  By planning your winter activities early, you’ll be able to avoid those “spur of the moment” activities done out of stir craziness that can end up costing you lots of extra cash.

2.  Utilize rewards cards.  Rewards cards can help you to save money on everything from airfare to gas to groceries.  Spend an afternoon that will be sure to save time and money by looking for the best credit card deals.  Then use the accumulated points to help fund your winter fun activities.  With the right card, you can save yourself tons of money, and earn lots of “cash” in the process, limiting or eliminating the dent in your budget that winter activities can make.   Make sure, though, when researching rewards cards that you read the fine print on every detail of the contract, so you can make sure and choose the card that’s right for you.  Personally, I think the Halifax would be a good choice.   There are lots of cards out there, though, so do your due diligence and search out the best card for you.   An important key to utilizing credit card rewards wisely, too, is to only charge what you can pay in full each month.  If you’re paying interest on running balances, you’re negating the rewards benefits, so budget out ahead of time for any purchases you make.

3.   Get social.  Probably one of the key ways to get through winter frugally is to make sure and enjoy it with others.  Plan game nights, sledding parties, or chili cook-offs.  Make it a point to have a weekly or monthly gatherings planned in advance to ward off winter boredom, and make sure that at least some of the activities are free or inexpensive.

There are all sorts of ways to make it through the icy cold winters, having a ton of fun, but still staying on track with your budget.  Make your plan to have a creative and frugally fun winter today!