Ok, ok so the headline grabbed you – but today I do want to bring forth some of the benefits of Winter, so we don’t all fall into a gloomy mood! Bet you thought there weren’t any but here are some of the reasons that I think Winter is worth appreciating:
- Food – Summer food is light, colourful and fresh but let’s also remember that it can be more expensive too. In Summer we’re more likely to be outside and with outside, comes expense! In Winter we have the chance to bulk cook again, get that slow cooker out, dust it off and start thinking what delicious warming meals you can make. Here are some of my favourites: Chilli Con Carne, Beef Stew, Chicken Noodle Soup, Chilli fajitas with avocado, yoghurt and cheese, Sweet Potato Lentil and Carrot soup, Lentil and Bacon Soup, Chicken Curry, Roast Chicken (stretchy – as one ‘stretches’ to around 3 meals plus lunches!), Homemade Rice Pudding and Lemon Curd. So start looking around for ingredients now – you can still make healthy but inexpensive meals to claw back what you spend in Summer, or, put towards the Christmas festivities.
- Hobbies – Yes that’s right, we finally have the time for those things that were put to one side, like the game you wanted to play a bit more of, the tv series you wanted to catch up on, photography, listening to music, perhaps for the more energetic even working out a bit more. How about making beauty products? You can see on the right hand side menu of this blog many entries from me, most of which I have more time of in Winter, so why not give it a go and make something that will save you money on gifts, or on your personal beauty budget for 2010?
- That follows on nicely to Budgeting. Yes that’s right – even more time to make sure the tax man, supermarket, insurance company, mortgage company, bank, restaurant and high street don’t have quite so much access to your extra pennies. Now is the time to set up your budget and stick to it. Plan ahead for 2010 for the things you really, really want, rather than those things that ‘come up’ each month and end up being where most of your hard earned dosh goes. Is your insurance coming up in the next few months? Set yourself a reminder. Is your credit card interest free period ending? Make sure you remind yourself of that too. Yahoo, Outlook, your phone or even a trusty paper diary will help you keep on track. Mainly though get that budget spreadsheet going – see www.moneysavingexpert.com for his free one, or contact me and I have one that works well in addition to the one Martin Lewis provides. In fact see my username on MSE (EagerLearner) and you will see my spreadsheet linked to in my signature there for you to download instantly.
- This leads onto cashback sites – once your budget it set up, claw back even more on top of that by using these sites. You want to buy a laptop? Rather than walking into your PC World store for example and buying the one you want, can you go via a cashback site to the PC World site and get the laptop you want online? I did this last weekend, and will earn around 3% cashback plus another 1% cashback from my credit card. This will get me £20 off for no effort at all! Christmas is coming so use cashback sites as much as you can. When insurances come up for renewal, cashback sites will give you hundreds of pounds back in your pocket. Same thing for switching energy suppliers (FatCheese is offering £110 to switch to Scottish Energy which I will seriously consider in the new year).
- Christmas – Of course, I’ve already mentioned it about but it needed it’s own entry. So many chances to make someone feel special by making them something, to save on gifts, to spend time together, eat good food and have fun. It’s not always easy as family gatherings can sometimes be stressful but try to get back to basics and ignore advertising and other people’s standards – no huge amounts of money needed just patience and agreement, plus possibly a love of homemade wrapping paper and experimental gifts!
- Home – Yes that’s right – your home! Seeing as you are now indoors more, what can you do to make your home a nicer, warmer place to be? Are there odd jobs to be done? What about money saving ones like DIY that could save on heating? I’m a renter but as soon as I have my own place, I’ll be spending time improving my place and adding personal touches. Thicker curtains, improved heating, better kitchen storage ideas, homemade surface sprays, homemade beauty products, and your lush homemade cooking will all make you proud and save you money!
That leads me to think that Winter is a great time that we all need – it’s natural to want more duvet days, shelter from the rain, wind and cold, cosy up and enjoy relaxing more. Watch that (rented or borrowed rather than bought) dvd box set, tuck into your homemade stew and fill up the water bottle!
I hope you get some inspiration and that some of the links through this site help you, please click sponsor links too if they are of interest as they support this blog.
Next blog entry will be about my soap making adventures, more Christmas ideas, home hobbies and what we can do in the coming months to enjoy Winter some more… Do share your ideas so far so we can all discuss and try new things!