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Cutting Back on Winter Expenses

January 29, 2015

The bitter chill of winter has settled into New England. Waking up to single digit temperatures and forecasts inundated with snow showers is the norm while we yearn for the first sign of spring to appear. Sloppy roads and dark skies are reason enough to daydream of warmer days, and winter expenses leave our wallets feeling cold and empty. However, there is a bright side! Winter is only temporary and there are ways to cut back on the expenses that some may think are inevitable at this time of year.

When you’re cold…

It’s tempting to immediately crank up the heat in your home when you’re cold, but you should winterize first so heating efforts are worthwhile. Windows, doors and even outlets on exterior walls can serve as warm air exits and cold air entrances. Attempting to keep your home warm before taking the appropriate measures can make efforts seem futile. You may even end up spending more on your heating bill than you would on supplies needed to make a difference. Visit your local hardware or home improvement store to find affordable solutions to better insulate your home. A programmable thermostat is also a great investment. This device will keep your home cooler at designated times, such as when you are at work for the day or wrapped up in warm blankets for the night. You may also want to consider using a space heater to focus heating efforts to an area of the home where there is more traffic throughout the day, such as the living room. Remember, your first line of defense to the cold is what you wear. Throw on a sweater or a pair of slippers before turning up the heat and raising your bill.

When you’re in need of a warm treat…

Coffee runs may be more frequent when the cold makes it hard to get out of bed in the morning and the days grow dark early. If you spend even three dollars a day on coffee, you’re spending fifteen dollars per work week. This translates to sixty dollars a month. Although these purchases are seemingly small, they add up fast. Soups and stews are other wintertime favorites, but if you find yourself enjoying these warm meals often for lunches or dinners, skip the cans and make your own. For a fraction of the cost of premade soups or stews, a large pot can provide multiple meals for you and your family.

When you’re braving the elements…

You’re ready to bundle up and venture into the winter wonderland, but first ensure your car is prepared to handle the elements. Taking the proper precautions in advance to winterize your vehicle will save you money and help you steer clear of a major headache down the road. Cold temperatures weaken belts and hoses under the hood. Having a mechanic make sure everything is functioning properly will reduce the risk of something going wrong while driving. Mechanics can also make you aware of expenses that may come with anticipated repairs and routine maintenance so that you can be prepared and have time to save. Paying for routine inspections and tune-ups will likely prove to be less costly than having your vehicle breakdown unexpectedly, and issues that are not handled properly could end up causing greater problems in the long run. Aside from ensuring your vehicle is mechanically sound, prepare for slick roads and wet conditions by checking your tire pressure, testing your battery, making sure windshield wipers are up to par, and maintaining proper antifreeze and oil levels.

Once your vehicle is all set to go, look for deals when planning a winter adventure. Whether you plan to ski, ice skate or snowshoe, doing some research ahead of time will help you save big. Oftentimes, peak hours are more expensive when hitting the slopes. If your schedule is flexible, you are more likely to find opportunities to save. Check out community events for a variety of free local winter activities to enjoy, or use your creativity to come up with something fun and different.

As you strive to save throughout these snowy months, remember to keep a close watch on your budget. Don’t let the expenses of one season disrupt your commitment to stay on track all year long. Small changes and increased efforts may cost you a little time, but the results will leave your wallet and bank account much happier.

Jim Oosterman is the Vice President of Melrose Bank. He can be reached by telephone at 781-665-2500, online at or on Facebook at

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