Every winter a number of factors converge to strain household budgets for individuals and families. Here’s what you can do to financially survive this winter, or better said, thrive.

Commit to Living within Your Means – there are endless tips for saving money and budgeting better. However, the most important aspect is the psychological factor – commit to yourself that you will live within your means. This factor alone will lead you to find ways that work for your budget.

Reign in Christmas Retail Spending – it’s wonderful to buy people gifts they enjoy especially the big name, big ticket items. However, if your finances do not allow for this don’t do it. Now, no one recommends becoming a “Grinch” but you can avoid going into short-term debt for gifts. Look for last year’s model of tablets or other electronic gadgets as they are now on sale. They are still very viable and will serve well for 3-4 years.

How To Survive Winter Financially

Learn to Love the Word: Refurbished. Many people cringe at that word but the actual truth is an item that’s been refurbished is one which initially passed quality assurance testing and failed within a warranty period and was returned. When the item is refurbished it has received hands-on repair and inspection – far more attention than ordinary units get. You’ll find your electronic gadgets at big discounts for being refurbished. Personally, I’ve used this approach over the years and have not been disappointed.

Home Heating Charges – this is the item that spikes every winter due to the cold. If your home heating tends to spike during this time of the year, call your utility company and see if they have a plan to offer you levelized billing where your average usage is normalized to a predictable monthly payment. That will take the shock out of the winter heating charges.

Emphasize Safety – Accidents and repairs are expensive, so take a few minutes to prevent big expenses this winter. Make sure you get your heating system checked out before it gets used frequently (a friend of mine just spent $5,000 getting his boiler replaced). Get snow tires for your car on those icy winter roads and also bring along some deicing salt which might save you from an accident along the way. All of this may cost a bit now, but could save a lot down the line.

Eat Healthy, Cook from Scratch – consider adding high fiber split pea soup or chick pea soup to your diet. A simple 99c 1-lb bag of dried split peas or chick peas can be purchased at the store. In a crock pot they can slow cook with some sea salt, pepper, and garlic powder added to taste and the result will be a very filling and healthy meal. Doing this 2-3 times a week will lower your weight, sodium, cholesterol, and your food budget. These legumes are specifically mentioned both for ease of preparation and their ability to satiate hunger – every restaurant meal skipped is money earned.

In short, you can do it. You have everything you need in order to make this winter enjoyable – happy holidays!