Shopping Smart

15 Things You Waste Money On As The Weather Gets Colder (And How To Stop Spending)

By | Friday, October 16, 2015


1. Ordering food. When it’s cold out, the last thing you want to do is take public transportation to the store, grocery shop, and then have to lug your bags home while the icy wind cuts off the circulation in your hands. And sometimes even going out for a meal seems like a chore, which is how you end up ordering thai food two nights in a row.

How to stop: If you’re going to order out at all, try to do it very sparingly, and with multiple people chipping in. Someone once told me to only splurge on food with others, and to eat as cheaply as possible when you’re alone. For delivery, this is a point well taken (though, again, not often). Try to never get takeout when it’s just you, or just you and your Seamless-enabling significant other. For groceries, try to stock up on more non-perishables, so you only need to go to the store once a week. I have never been a fan of canned vegetables, but I’ve learned I’ll never go hungry if I have eggs, canned beans and salsa around for when I’m desperate.

2. Hot beverages. The colder months are, as we all know, seasonal beverage haven. As soon as the PSLs go out of style, they’ll be replaced with gingerbread lattes (my personal weakness) and peppermint mochas. And the colder it gets, the easier it becomes to rationalize a hot beverage to warm your hands.

How to stop: First, BUY GLOVES. In high school, I used to hate winter accessories, and was the queen of buying tea to keep my hands warm because I legitimately thought it looked cuter than gloves. But then I joined the real world, started paying my own bills, and snapped out of it. Also, if you’re craving those delicious beverages, get crafty at home, and spruce up your typical coffee. Make concentrated coffee/espresso, heat warm milk (personally, I’m into coconut milk in coffee right now), and add chocolate syrup. Homemade mocha!

3. Hot yoga classes, or a gym membership. In the summer, we manage to talk ourselves out of bougie gym memberships because we can workout outside. In the winter, it seems like the only way we will actually exercise is if we spend money, and force ourselves to go to kickboxing class after work.

How to stop: Get creative with your “home gym” with weights or a yoga mat. If you have the means to exercise while at home, you’ll be taking advantage of the “I don’t want to leave the house” excuse. Find more TFD workout solutions here.

4. Transport. When it starts to snow, Uber starts to look very appealing. I even have friends who have been stuck taking cabs home to faraway boroughs because the trains have closed by the time they got off work thanks to ~~inclement weather~~.

How to stop: Be more definitive about your cut off time at work, and at social gatherings. The later you stay, the more apt you are to want to take a ride, because the colder it’ll get outside. Personally, I tend to linger when I know it’s freezing outside because I’ll do anything to delay leaving the heat. But if you chose to leave earlier, you stand a better chance of braving the cold, and not succumbing to an expensive ride.

5. Sweaters, scarves, and other fall and winter trends. Everything from dark colored nail polishes to chunky knit sweaters look exceptionally appealing, and because it’s getting cold it feels like you can write it off as a “need” instead of a “want.”

How to stop: As I’ve mentioned before on TFD, I think a clothing swap can be a fun way to get some new fall finds. If everyone brings over accessories, or fall clothes that are still in good condition, everyone can leave with at least one item they love, and get rid of things that were just taking up space in their closet.

6. Duck boots. I cannot keep up with winter boot trends. First it was Uggs, then it was Sorels, and now it’s duck boots. They’re all fine brands, of course, but we don’t need a new pair every year because 2015, contrary to popular belief, does not have to be the Year Of The Duck Boot.

How to stop: Refurbish your boots — both the winter ones, and the leather/suede ones. You can buy good cleaner (for suede, leather or ~rugged~ boots) and they work remarkably well. If you care for your boots, they should last for at least two, or three winters, if not more.

7. One-time use decorations. When the holidays are getting closer, we’re constantly in the “well this might spruce the place up” mindset, which prompts us to make thoughtless purchases.

How to stop: If you’re going to buy fall or winter decorations, do so purposefully, and remember that less is more, seeing as you might take all these decorations down in a few months. Buy an inexpensive plastic storage box (you can find them for $5) and store your decorations properly so that you can reuse them.

8. Plane tickets. As someone who lives across the country from my family, I know how expensive travel can be around the holidays. And sometimes we don’t even consider the fact that we need to buy a ticket until the weather starts getting chilly.

How to stop: Buy in advance. Way, way in advance. I bought my ticket home for Thanksgiving in JULY. I know that, for this year, this warning is a little late, but the sooner you buy, the better.

9. Heat. Starting in October, the thermostat becomes a security blanket.

How to stop: Monitor your use by turning the heat down at night, and always, always remembering to turn it off when you leave the house (or lowering it). Leave a sticky note on the back of your front door to remind you to turn off the thermostat. And look into these tips for lowering your utility bills.

10. Manicures. When it gets cold, it’s easy to run out of things to do with your girlfriends, because having a picturesque chat on a park bench is out of the question when it’s freezing. And when it gets cold, the seasonal reds, and dark colors, are so enticing that it makes you want to get your nails done.

How to stop: Get creative about what you’re doing with your friends. Get together and make crafts to give out at Halloween, or Thanksgiving. (Once, my friend gave everyone in our crew homemade cinnamon bath scrub — just as a seasonal treat — and it was a perfect budget present.) You can also have a girls’ night in, or check out other “new friend date” suggestions here.

11. Coats. One for each type of cold. The corduroy jacket, the leather jacket, the peacoat, the professional coat to use when it’s too cold for peacoats, and the ski jacket/parka.

How to stop: Downsize your needs. I own three coats, all of which were splurges and are good quality, but have lasted me three to four years each, and are still in great condition. I own a leather jacket, a peacoat, and a down parka, and they cover all of my bases. When I lived in upstate New York, I preferred to wear my parka out to dinner every so often, rather than buy an entirely new “fancy parka” for when it was too cold for peacoats.

12. Cinnamon, peppermint, and pumpkin spice-flavored EVERYTHING. And I don’t mean the coffee, I mean anything else with a holiday label.

How to stop: I completely understand getting drawn into the nostalgia of fall, or needing a pick-me-up in the grayest part of November. So, I would say skipping the aisles with the treats you like at the grocery store, the pharmacy, or the closest Walmart, is the best solution. Remember that most October impulse purchases are often pumpkin-cinnamon scented, and that avoiding temptation will be more satisfying in the long run.

13. Annoying kitschy, holiday-centric attractions and activities that friends or family want to partake in because they want “to be tourists just this once.”

How to stop: Just say “no.” Bite the bullet, and suggest another activity, or meet up with them after the very expensive carriage ride in the snow that someone suggested would be “so quintessential and Gilmore Girls-esque.” You don’t need to be quintessential, nor do you need to go skating at Rockefeller center.

14. Hosting parties. There’s the Halloween party, Friendsgiving, and then a holiday party. For some, that means hosting one party every month, for three months in a row, which can get really expensive.

How to stop: Get together with your closest friends, and divvy up the parties. If one person is going to host a pumpkin carving, have someone else host the Thanksgiving gathering, and someone else do the holiday soirée. If you enjoy hosting all three, try to incorporate as many “bring your own” aspects as possible. Don’t feel uncomfortable asking your guests to bring their own alcohol, or a side dish. Chances are, they’ll appreciate the opportunity to pitch in.

15. Extraneous heating equipment. Space heaters, candles, blankets, and lounge clothes. All it takes is one problematic heater situation to force you to spend on Polartec Everything, and buy fleece blankets in every color.

How to stop: People accumulate blankets at record-breaking speeds, so ask friends if you can borrow extra blankets, if you need them. It’s likely that someone you know already has more blankets than they could ever use. Seal your windows, and close your curtains to keep the warmth in. And finally, don’t stop doing laundry just because it’s cold out, because, unfortunately, that’s a surefire way to buy three new pairs of sweatpants, because you forgot about the cozy pants buried at the bottom of your hamper.

Image via Pexels

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