Ways to Spend Less Money This Winter

If you’re a homeowner, you probably already know staying warm in the winter can be costly. Heating your home itself can make up more than 40% of a utility bill. On top of that, natural gas inventories have dropped this year, causing prices to increase by 300%. Staying warm is important, and luckily there are tricks to cutting those costs without having to completely turn off your thermostat.

Winterize your home

To avoid cold drafts and heat from escaping, winterizing is essential. Don’t get stuck wondering where the cold air is coming from – get ahead of it with this checklist:

  • Seal your windows and install thermal curtains
  • Get a weatherstrip seal to cover door gaps
  • Clean or change your furnace filter
  • Ensure your attic is properly insulated
  • Caulk gaps you find around your windows or on the walls
  • Install a programmable thermostat

Prevent winter damage

Without proper maintenance and preparation, homeowners risk having pricey damage to their homes. Severe winter conditions like snow and ice can lead to strain on your roof and gutters, plumbing problems, flooding in the basement, cracks in the foundation, and even potential fires. This can lead to heavy repair fees and long-term issues. Here’s what you can do:

  • Clear your gutters
  • Hire a chimney sweep
  • Clean your dryer vents at least once annually
  • Install monitoring devices on your water pipes

Use heat alternatives

If you plan on lowering the heat to cut costs, make sure you’re stocked up on blankets, slippers, warm pajamas, and heating pads. A space heater is a good alternative if you’re warming a small area as well. During the day, you’ll want to take advantage of the natural sunlight and keep the curtains open (but close them when the sun goes down).

Cook at home & buy in bulk

Save money on dining out and cook cozy meals at home like soups, pasta dishes, stews, or pot pies. Not only will these meals warm you up, but they’ll also keep the kitchen toasty from using the oven or stove. When getting ingredients for these meals, it’s best to buy in bulk from membership stores. This way you can save on your grocery bill and spend less on gas by reducing the amount you’re driving to the store.

Choose an inexpensive resolution

The post-holiday season is the time of year when many people choose a New Year’s resolution to start fresh. However, many tend to buy into expensive membership programs that they slowly stop using. If your goal is to get fit, try at-home workouts instead of joining an expensive gym (especially if you’re not really going to use it). Are you looking to break your record on good reads? Get a library card and borrow books instead of buying new ones.

No matter what winter brings, the team at First Financial can help you better manage your money and reach your financial goals. Call us at 732.312.1500 or stop by any of our local branches.

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Ways to Get Through Winter on a Budget

Winter can be expensive – between higher utility bills, paying for heavier clothing, indoor activities, transportation in regard to weather conditions, and more. Here are a few tips to help you save during the coldest months of the year.

Lower Your Heating Bill

You have probably heard this before, but it really does work: add an extra layer of clothing and lower your thermostat at home. You may not like wearing heavier clothes around the house at first, but when you get your heating bill in the mail – you will be very glad you did. Besides lowering your home thermostat, other ways to save on your electric or gas bill in winter include making sure you have properly insulated windows and doors. All of these items can really add up and become a huge waste of resources, and your money.

Pay Less for Winter Clothing

If you have children, take a look at their winter coats. Can they be handed down from one child to the next, or how about extended family – do you have anything you can pass on or maybe other family members have coats that can be passed onto your kids? Winter coats aren’t cheap, so if you can avoid having to buy new ones each winter before they get outgrown – family or friend hand me downs are a great idea.

If you do need to buy a new winter coat for your children, try to purchase it at the end of the winter season for next year. If you don’t get a chance to buy off-season, remind yourself to take advantage of winter sales at the end of the year on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. These tips work for adult winter clothing as well. Plus, don’t forget to check out apps like Poshmark and Mercari where you can often find new or gently used brand clothing items for a steal (and even sell your own clothing and shoes).

Save on Winter Sports

Does your family enjoy winter sports? Winter sports like skiing, snow tubing, and snowboarding can get very expensive when you take into account the cost of equipment, maintenance, and warm clothes and boots. Plus, if you don’t live near the mountains – the added cost of travel, hotel, access tickets, or equipment rental.

This is another area to buy winter sporting equipment and clothing off-season to save money. At the end of this winter season, look for items that can be used next winter and get them on sale. You can also look for deals on access tickets online or if you’re a frequent visitor, research and see if you can save by buying family passes for the entire season.

Winter Activities

Because it’s often too cold to be outside, winter indoor activities can really add up. When it’s warmer out, it’s easy to go to the local park and allow your kids to play outside (for free). If you find your family going to the movies each weekend (which isn’t cheap either) and then buying refreshments there, or going to an indoor theme park and again paying for what seems like endless amounts of food and beverages – think about doing some research and making a few changes to the winter family activity budget. Maybe some weekends you can instead rent a movie at home and purchase popcorn and snacks from the grocery store, have a family baking or cooking day at home, and look for coupons online if you do decide to hit that indoor theme park or the movies. It may take a little legwork and planning, but doing so can really help your bank account and still allow for plenty of family fun during winter months.

Article Source: Vered Deleeuw for Moneyning.com

Winter is Coming: Time to Ready Your Home and Wallet

We are in the midst of the holiday season and that means the temperatures are steadily dropping. As we reach year’s end, it’s time to take a hard look at how you can prepare your home and your wallet for the winter months ahead. Here are four tips for winterizing your home and saving some extra cash.

Keep it low.

Instead of turning up the heat every time you feel a chill, grab a blanket or put the fireplace on and save some cash. Also, take a good look at your heating system and find out whether there’s a programming option. This will allow you to set times when you want the heat to click on (in the morning when you’re getting out of bed, for example) and times when it should remain low (while you’re at work and no one is home).

Let sunshine in.

Many of us like the privacy our drapes and curtains provide us. But, when it’s cold out, open up your blinds and let the sun in. You’ll be surprised how much the natural sunlight will help heat up certain areas of your home.

Freshen up your filters.

It can be very easy to forget about those air filters, but keeping them clean is key to good quality air in your home. Filthy filters not only limit the airflow, but they also up the energy demand (which means more expensive bills). So, make a note in your calendar to check on them monthly to ensure they’re in good shape.

Turn the fan around.

Many people associate ceiling fans with cool air when actually, with just a minor adjustment they can help warm your home as well. Most ceiling fans come with a small switch that allows you to change its direction. A clockwise rotation will push warm air back down into your living space, which can significantly cut your heating costs too.

Article Source: Wendy Moody for CUInsight.com   

5 Tips to Lowering Your Energy Bill this Winter

Close up of home heating thermostat with partial utility bill on wall.

It may officially be a couple weeks away, but winter is coming – and with it come extra expenses on keeping warm. A large part of the country will be experiencing lower than average temperatures this winter, but we can all save money by taking the time now to prepare and weatherproof. Consider these tips to maximize your savings before the snow starts falling.

Keep it cool.

When you get home, leave the sweater on, grab a blanket or light a fire in the fireplace to save some real money. You can save 5% on heating costs for every degree you drop your thermostat in the 60-70 degree range, according to the California Energy Commission’s Consumer Energy Center.

Check for drafts.

The best way to lower your winter energy bill is to reseal your home to keep the cold out. By insulating windows, installing window coverings, and sealing drafts around chimneys, cabinets, and closets, you can find the largest return that doesn’t require any lifestyle changes.

Have your furnace inspected.

The last thing you want is for your heat to go out in the middle of the winter, though arguably you would save quite a bit of money. In most markets you can spend around $100 to get your system inspected by a professional who can identify any duct leaks, intake blockages, mechanical failings, electronic failings and more.

Harness the sun.

At night you should have your blinds and thick curtains closed to prevent the escape of heat, but in the mornings open them up to let in as much sunlight and free, natural heat as possible.

Watch your increased waste.

For most of us, winter means we are spending more time inside. We escape the cold weather with the assistance of our electronics. Though, you should be mindful of all of those idle gadgets as they could be eating up a significant amount of power. The EPA estimates that idle gadgets waste more than 100 billion kilowatt hours of electricity annually, costing consumers $10 billion a year. Make sure you unplug every device that you aren’t actively using to keep the cost low.

Article Source: Tyler Atwell for CUInsight.com, https://www.cuinsight.com/5-tips-lowering-energy-bill-winter.html