When you’re in debt repayment mode, cutting down on your variable expenses is an important way to free up extra cash to pay off your debt quicker. I did it, and it was a key part of my debt repayment strategy. Cutting down on variable expenses is as simple as ditching any expense that you don’t need to incur.
That means no meals out with friends, no weekly happy hour with coworkers, and no movie nights.
I know what you’re thinking, but hear me out.
Cutting back on your entertainment spending does not mean you’ll spend this winter sitting at home staring at the wall. There are plenty of frugal and fun entertainment options that will keep you entertained without breaking the budget or costing you a few more months of indebtedness. Here is my guide to having a frugal and fun winter on a budget.
Take Advantage of the Great Outdoors
Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean you must, or should, stay inside! We live in Canada, and most of us wouldn’t live here unless we enjoyed some form of outdoor activity. So take advantage of our wonderful environment and get out there. Here are some examples of outdoor activities that are either frugal or totally free:
- Ice skating
- Hiking (cleared trails only – don’t get stuck!)
- Building a snowman
Sure, these activities might seem a little juvenile, but they all have an underlying benefit: they all get you active and out of the house. Winter can be hard on your fitness, and when the weather is cold going to the gym or for a run is not appealing. Doing any of the activities above will get you moving and keep you healthy – plus they’re free!
Take Advantage of Holiday Themed Events
If you live in a moderately sized city, odds are there are many events and activities taking place around the holidays. Go to a Christmas-themed market, buy a hot cider, and wander around looking at the vendor’s wares for a few hours – just don’t buy anything. You could also go on a sleigh ride, or simply wander the streets of your city taking in the beautiful holiday decorations. Your municipality’s website is a good place to start to determine where and when the desirable events are taking place.
Take Advantage of Your Warm Hearth
I don’t know about you, but in the wintertime, when the sun goes down, the last thing I want to do is leave my warm, cozy house and venture out into the cold. There’s just something about early nightfall that makes me go into hibernation mode.
Since this is my natural desire, I use this urge as an excuse not to spend money – and you can too. Instead of braving the cold to hit up a restaurant or bar with your friends, enjoy the warmth and coziness of your home by staying home and cooking a meal together with friends. It’ll save you heaps of cash, and you won’t have to channel your inner Jon Snow.
Remember It’s Only Temporary
In the colder months, my spending on entertainment, bars, and restaurants tend to go down, but my spending in other areas tends to spike. Particularly, my spending on electronics like video games and blue-ray movies increases. I think this is because I’m spending so much more time at home with my husband instead of out and around the city. To combat this, I remind myself that I’m only tempted to do this extra spending because of the cold weather, and that will pass. I’ll ask myself:
- Do I need another video game to get myself through this season?
- Will another blue ray movie really make me feel better about the bitterly cold wind whipping around my house?
The answer is no. Soon the air will warm, the snow will melt, and the things I bought will sit unused in my cupboard. That’s not a good use of my money, and it’s not a good use of yours, either.
Photo Credit: Juan Arreguin