‘Tis the season to be jolly, but not when it comes to an increase in your household expenses. The season of goodwill and joy is upon us and there are a lot of expenses this time of year. Between buying gifts for the family and extra food for the cupboards, you also have to deal with extra money spent on the heating and electricity bills. The colder weather is a time for snuggling up with cocoa, hanging up the Christmas and Thanksgiving decorations and generally cosying up with the family. The thing is, if you’re panicking about the energy bills racking up, you’re less likely to be relaxed and far more likely to feel stressed out and worried.
The best thing to do this holiday season is cut down on your costs. Given that the holidays are some of the most expensive times of the year, it’s important to know what you can afford and how to manage your finances in the lead up to the festive period. The last thing you need is to be on a tight budget and have to pay out for furnace repair because yours has decided to clap out at the last minute. Of course, if you haven’t been preparing yourself so far for the season you could find yourself a little shocked by the difference in energy prices. So, how can you make sure that you are prepared for the winter months and cut your costs down?
Plan ahead and be prepared when it comes to buying Christmas gifts and decorations. Christmas is a time for giving, but it doesn’t mean that you have to buy expensive presents and ornaments for the house. Make a list well in advance and keep to your budget as closely as possible. Shop in the sales and make a point of hand delivering gifts where you can so that you can save on postage costs.
Did you know that throughout the year, energy suppliers have deals on that mean you can switch over and save money? If you have had the same supplier for the past three years, you could definitely save money. Most people don’t notice the change in their utilities as the increases can be so gradual, but you need to look at how you can save cash with your suppliers, and this is the way you can get that done. Always swap onto the cheapest tariff that you can get and if this means separate suppliers, so be it! Use the money you save by putting it in a pot and not touching it – this way, you can ensure that you have that emergency money for the furnace should it break down.
This could include your own clothes, but really this is for your house. Your thermostat temperature can make a huge difference to what you spend in your heating bills. Reducing the temperature that yours is setup at by even a degree can give you huge savings in what you spend every month. Adding layers of rugs, curtains and blinds to the house can help to keep the heat from escaping and means that you don’t have to raise the thermostat temperature when things get a little chilly indoors.
Most people don’t know that a simple swap of your lightbulbs from normal to energy saving bulbs can cut your bills. They also last longer than the regular bulbs, meaning you’re spending less cash there, too. Even when you do use energy saving bulbs, you must remember to switch off the lights when you leave a room. There’s no point in trying to save money on your bills if you’re going to end up leaving all the lights on anyway!
We mentioned rugs and curtains with blinds earlier, and there’s a good reason why. Stopping the heat leaving the house through unnoticed gaps is going to make a huge difference to how much you spend. The last thing you want is to have the warm air that you are paying for pretty much leaking out of the house. Use draught-proofing strips like these around the window edges and doorframes. Make sure that you use an inflatable pillow to block the chimney if you don’t use the fireplace. You could even have a specialist come in and fit a cap over the top of the chimney pot. Everything that you do for your house right now is going to help you cut those costs that will make a difference.
When you have the family visiting over Christmas time, you are going to get an increased use out of all your appliances. That is, unless you use caterers to feed you all for a few days! This is all about saving cash though, not spending more, so you need to look at the appliances that you have: kettle, toaster and even the TV, should all be energy-efficient where possible. You can save annually by choosing appliances that are more energy-efficient and it’s going to make a big difference to your Christmas spending if you save the money over time.
Hosting a large group of people for Thanksgiving or Christmas means that you will have an increase in the use of the bath, shower and heating. Having a boiler that is on its last legs will not help you here, and the last thing you need is for it to bust when you’re hosing people in the house. Have your boiler checked throughout the year and replaced if it is older than five years old.
The holidays are a time for families, and you want your family to be comfortable and taken care of in your home. Saving your money all year can make for a far more comfortable holiday period and give you a chance to enjoy the festivities without worry that things will break down or need replacement. Give yourself a little holiday cheer and plan ahead for this season!
Disclosure: This is a contributed post.