Winter can put a chill on the wallet, with Christmas bills throwing even the most carefully-planned budgets off course as we move into January and February, and plunging temperatures leaving us whacking up the heating in our homes.
This year has had the added challenge of Covid, which means more of us are working from home and – for those with kids – home schooling means more money spent on food, energy and keeping entertained.
But there are some simple ways you may be able to cut back and save money, which could make life easier when those bills start landing on your doormat and the weather remains bleak.
5 ways to save money this winter
1. Have an early financial spring clean
If you’ve overdone it on the Christmas gifting, why not sell on unwanted items now? More than one in 10 (12%) of shoppers will have bought items on in sales only to find they already had something similar at home, a survey from Gumtree has found. Use February to clear through cupboards and collect together unwanted gadgets and gifts then head to eBay to sell unwanted gifts.
2. Book holiday flights
While the pandemic means that travel abroad is curtailed for now, there are some amazing deals to be had on flights and accommodation for later in 2021 and 2022. Make sure that whatever you book is fully refundable, and ensure that your travel insurance has Covid protection in case restrictions mean your holiday is cancelled or you become ill with the disease.
3. Sort your energy bills
Research from MoneySuperMarket.com found that fixed energy deals can expire over winter, meaning many customers risk being rolled onto more expensive tariffs during the coldest part of year when energy usage is at its peak. Often, when these tariffs end, providers will move customers onto a standard variable rate tariff, which could be their most expensive deal. Those with deals about to end may want to bear in mind that MoneySuperMarket.com says the end-to-end switching process can take up to three weeks, but is often quicker.
Stephen Murray, an energy expert at MoneySuperMarket.com, says: “At this time of year especially, with temperatures dropping and the thermostat creeping up every day, now is definitely not the time to be languishing on an expensive standard variable tariff, or inadvertently rolling onto one at the end of a fixed rate deal because you’ve done nothing.”
Read our guide to energy saving and how to save money on your energy bills.
4. Insulate your home
As temperatures drop, bodies like Energy Saving Trust and Energy Saving Trust Scotland can help provide information on how people can insulate their home and potentially save on heating bills. Lagging pipes and insulating the loft can be effective ways to reduce heat loss.
Lloyds Bank Home Insurance suggests insulating exposed pipes in basements, attics, garages, kitchen cabinets and on the outside of the house.
Read our guide to how to insulate your home and save money.
5. Use cashback to earn as you spend
With prices rising, cards which offer cashback can help to take some of the pressure off when it comes to paying bills. But research from Moneyfacts.co.uk has found shoppers will find that interest-free deals on credit cards have been shrinking over the past six months, giving consumers fewer months to spread the cost of buying.
Rachel Springall, finance expert at Moneyfacts.co.uk, says: “There are still some ways for shoppers to make the most of any spending, such as by earning some cashback with a credit card or current account, or even by making use of an interest-free purchase card to spread the cost of purchases, but the offers are not as rewarding as they once were.”