5 Ways Cash-Strapped Renters Can Budget for the Holidays
Looking to save money and still enjoy the holidays? In the second part of our holiday savings series, we examine how you can control spending with a little reusing, reducing and reframing your needs, wants and expectations.
Part 2: Cutting Back and Using Less
Nix the daily pumpkin lattes
Did you know the average American buys a thousand dollars’ worth of coffee each year? All those macchiatos and venti mocha disasters add up! When the crisp air arrives and the scarves come out of hibernation, it’s hard to resist the siren’s call of pumpkin lattes and peppermint hot chocolate. Pretty soon you’re jittering in a line full of addicts, anxiously peering at the barista as you wait for your triple-shot-no-whip-half-caf-mochaccino.
There’s a better way and it involves not deprivation, but moderation. As a treat, splurging on a special drink now and then is perfectly reasonable. It’s when that treat goes from “once in a while” to an everyday requirement that you end up over-caffeinated and over-extended.
Brown Bag It
Welcome to leftovers heaven! All of our fridges and freezers are packed with everything from mashed potatoes to turkey to pumpkin pie. Old cranberry sauce, extra stuffing and even dinner rolls can be repurposed into a hearty homemade lunch that will have your coworkers salivating with envy.
Keep in mind, grocery stores tend to push big promotions from October to December, so take advantage of the discounts, special rewards, and coupons. Don’t ignore mailers and flyers. There are great markdowns to be had if you look around. And don’t forget to use any annual discounts or membership cards before they expire. If you’re in the mood to plan for January, stock up now on the heavily discounted items like baking supplies and side dishes.
Skip the Gym
Staying fit and healthy is important, but if you haven’t discovered how to fit a workout into your schedule by December, there’s no point in trying to trick yourself onto the treadmill by joining the throngs of new gym-goers at the new year. Instead, why not combine errands with a workout by parking far way (or skipping the car altogether) and taking the stairs as you bounce from the mall to the grocery store to the company party. Once February rolls around, check back in and see if joining the gym makes sense.
In the meantime, take advantage of the outdoors. While the weather in your area might be frightful, there are many fun, wintertime activities you can try as a way to trick yourself into a cheap and easy workout! If you already have the equipment, ice skating and cross-country skiing are great ways to burn off those turkey dinners and pumpkin pies. Window shopping can be a low-impact option, and even just a walk around the block to check out the neighbor’s lighting display can get jumpstart your heart rate.
Cut the Cocktails
Though alcohol can be expensive, you don’t have to skip the cocktails altogether. Why not spare your pocketbook and do a good deed by occasionally volunteering to be the designated driver? You’ll save on those pricey drinks by sipping soda all night, and think of all the great (good natured) blackmail material you’ll have on all your drunken friends!
If the thought of a sober soiree makes you weak in the knees, you can always just reduce your intake by toggling between the eggnog and the sparkling water. Another option that might seem counter-intuitive is to splurge on a pricey drink or glass of wine. At $10 or more a serving, you’re less likely to overindulge and overspend.
Be Energy Efficient
Remember to keep that thermostat in check and turn off the lights whenever possible!
As a renter, you may not have much of a say when it comes to adding or improving the energy efficiency of your home, but there are some simple, inexpensive ways to cut down on your energy use. Make sure you’re using energy efficient light bulbs and that any new appliances have an Energy Star rating. Seal gaps around doors and windows and hang heavy curtains if possible to keep in heat.
Embrace the cold and snuggle up. There’s nothing better than steaming tea, a hot water bottle and a pair of fuzzy slippers!
Keep It All In Perspective
It’s human nature to believe that a bigger bank account can make all the difference, but the truth is that the memories you build with the people you love have an incalculable value that will enrich your life much more than a random knickknack or pair of socks. Pay attention to the “the reason for the season” and make an effort spread the spirit in ways that don’t cost a dime, like volunteering, reveling in homemade decorations, or even just reading The Night Before Christmas to a wide-eyed toddler. In the end, these moments are what add value to your celebrations.