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15 Fun Things to Do This Winter That Won’t Ruin Your Budget

By Kim Galeta
November 21, 2017

Shorter days, colder nights and…deeper pockets?

When the weather changes, so do our spending habits. But with a little planning and this list of 15 budget-friendly outdoor and indoor winter activities, it’s easy to feel warm and fuzzy about your finances – even when you’re out in the cold.

Go sledding.

Don’t have a sled? Make one using items you have on hand such as a yoga mat, shower curtain or even a trash bag.

Build a snowman.

Even if you’re no longer a kid or don’t have any of your own children, this is still a timeless activity that you can enjoy if it snows in your neck of the woods.

Enjoy a winter hike.

Hiking isn’t just for warm weather conditions. But, if you’re going on a long or treacherous winter hike, be sure to prepare adequately and travel in a group.

Go ice skating.

Some ice rinks offer free admission and only charge for skate rental. This will typically run you only a few dollars. But, if you’ve got your own pair of skates, then this can turn into a free winter activity.

Build a bonfire or firepit.

Invite a group of friends over for s’mores by the fire. Except for the cost to buy the ingredients for the s’mores, this is free. Another perk: you won’t even have to leave your house, thus saving you money on gas or public transportation.

Go star-gazing in your backyard.

One of my friends recently told me that star-gazing is her favorite winter pastime. So, invite some friends over and ask them to bring blankets for the perfect budget-friendly winter night. You can even throw in hot cocoa.

Check out a local festival.

You might be surprised to learn that local outdoor festivals exist in the winter and sometimes they’re free. This is a great opportunity to meet people if you recently moved into a new neighborhood.

Lend a helping hand. 

Volunteering your time or skills is a great way to give back without breaking the bank. Help a neighbor shovel snow or consider volunteering at a local festival (free food is often involved).

Try a new recipe.

If you’re craving comfort food this winter, why not try out a new recipe or two instead of ordering in? I recently stepped up my culinary skills and finally learned how to make hearty chicken soup at $1.50 per serving.

Host a potluck.

There’s no need to give up entertaining during the winter because of the cost, and hosting a potluck offers the perfect solution. If your friends prefer to contribute cash instead of their favorite dish, they can easily send you money through the Chime app.

Learn a skill on Netflix.

There’s nothing I love more than curling up on the couch with a plush blanket, popcorn and hot chocolate to binge-watch my Netflix shows. The best part? Many Netflix shows offer pearls of wisdom that can be applied to your everyday life and that includes your finances.

Schedule in some self-care.

There are many inexpensive ways to practice self-care such as taking a long bath, making a homemade face mask or even carving out some time to read a novel by your favorite author. Taking care of your mind and body year-round can have a positive impact on your financial health as well.

De-clutter your home.

You can either donate items to a local charity or consider selling items for cash. Sami Hageman of Eat Pray Budget has been selling unwanted stuff online using websites like Facebook Marketplace. The extra cash ($2,000 in the last two months alone) has helped her pay off tens of thousands of dollars in student loans. Hageman likes Facebook Marketplace because you get to screen who you do business with, plus you can either arrange for a pick-up at your front door or ship the items to the buyer.

Start a side hustle.

My favorite thing to do instead of spending money is to make more of it. There are many ways you can earn extra income that are easy to start from the comfort of your own home. You can learn to code, become a proofreader or even become a virtual assistant.

Get started on spring 2018 plans.

As the saying goes, the best part of winter is when it ends. That said, it’s never too early to take a look at your calendar of events for spring and prepare your budget accordingly.

Bonus Tips: Winter-Proof Your Budget

While you’re planning all kinds of budget-friendly winter activities, take a look at a few of our top tips to help keep even more money in your pocket as days grow increasingly longer and colder.

  • Beef up your emergency fund. For the past two winters, my husband and I have added a little extra padding to our emergency fund, and it always seems to come in handy. This year, we’ve already had to use some of it, with an unexpected expense of $250 to repair our furnace. However, having the extra money in the emergency fund gives us peace of mind whenever these winter-related expenses decide to pop up.
  • Unlink payment methods. This tip is especially important for my fellow winter homebodies. While staying indoors can sound like an inexpensive option, this isn’t always the case. Unlinking payment methods to Amazon and other online stores can help remove the temptation of overspending. We often think twice about making a purchase if we have to take out our wallets and manually enter our payment details.
  • Switch to debit. Another excellent way to prevent overspending is to use a debit card for online purchases. A debit card is similar to using cash in that you can only spend what you have in your bank account. However, sometimes it can be difficult to get a handle on your actual bank balance to ensure that you make the most informed financial decisions. Luckily there are bank accounts out there – like Chime – that are designed to help you track your finances with features like daily balance notifications and automatic savings.

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