The Halloween decorations go back into the attic, the pumpkins get kicked to the curb and everything undergoes a swift change. The weather gets a little cooler. Slowly the wreaths come out and you start to feel an excitement that grows bigger and bigger as the holidays approach. Along with that excitement comes a little anxiety, knowing that during the holiday season you tend to spend more money. You told yourself you were going to budget better this year. You told yourself the same thing last year and the year before that. It’s not all your fault, though. Yes, buying gifts drain your bank account, but it’s also those pesky bills that are responsible. This is the time of year when you, your family and your friends will be at your house the most. This means the grocery bills, the energy bills and your dollar bills all suffer. To survive the financial hemorrhaging, you have to approach the holidays with a game plan. Here are four ways we know you’ll be able to save a buck this winter.


Stop the Drafts


Beware of the jaw-dropping energy bill of the winter. Sure, we live in sunny Jacksonville, but we are still not immune to receiving the heftiest energy bills of the year. Chances are, especially if you live in an older house, you’ve got a heater working harder than it needs to be working. Bundling up and using your fireplace helps, but you might have a fundamental problem that’s causing your piggy bank to leak. We’re talking about drafts. Check your windows in October to see if you can feel any air escaping through unlikely places. If you come across a crack in your window frame, you might want to look into a window replacement. The good news is that a draft can be a cheap problem to fix. Winterizing window treatments include a wide selection of different products. Whether we’re talking about plastic window films, blinds or insulated curtains, there’s definitely something that can fit your needs.


Thermostat 101


To touch the thermostat, or not to touch the thermostat: a heated conversation. We all have that one friend who would physically fight you if you turned the thermostat above 63 degrees and then there’s that person, more like your grandmother, who can sit comfortably under two blankets with the temperature at 82 degrees. Thermostat etiquette is quite important and it can save you money. Admittedly, it can be a hard thing to keep track of, especially when your mind is on a hundred other things this time of year. It might be worth investing in a smart thermostat. Smart thermostats are flooding the market and they can be quite helpful. They learn your habits and know when no one is in the house so they can control the temperature accordingly. If you’re not willing to spend the cash on one just yet, the alternative option is simply not to use the heat and to bundle up by adding more layers. Insulate your doors and windows, bring out the heavy thick blankets and turn on that fireplace.


Actually Saving


Everyone saves money in some capacity for the holidays, but erring on the side of prepared is a good precaution. If you don’t have a holiday savings fund, you should. It helps when your holiday fund is separate from your main bank account because you’re less likely to touch it. Once you’ve got that fund building up, plan out your spending by putting a detailed budget in writing. Using a spreadsheet can help you to break down each separate cost with ease. If you don’t have your bank’s app on your phone, download it. Being able to view your balance on the go, even in line at the store, keeps you in check and is a huge plus.


Traditions Don’t Need to Be Expensive

Read this subtitle and repeat it as a mantra. So often we try to make the holidays memorable, and we end up spending money any way we can. We daydream of elaborate ski trips and expensive weekend winter getaways. As cliché as it sounds, the truth is money does not equate to happiness. Chances are, you and your family will get a lot of satisfaction out of the simple things. Putting in place traditions that bring the family together will immerse everyone in the classic holiday experience. Take the family for a drive through the neighborhood to look at lights. Bake some cookies. Decorate a Christmas tree together. These are the things that the kids are going to remember.