SLIDESHOW: Save Money on Winter Essentials
- Eating: Stew it Up
The barbecue has become an item of worship in Canada but winter actually provides the tastiest -- and most economical -- fare. Lower-cost cuts of meat are made delicious after eight hours in a stew pot or slow cooker. Throw in some root veggies and a bit of well-priced red vino (the balance of which will accompany your dinner) and you've got a terrific winter meal at a fraction of the price of a summer steak feast.
- Travel: Think Off-Season
By about January 10th I'm itching to get out of Dodge but I'm all too aware of the ol' Visa bill in the mail pile. By re-thinking what I want out of a getaway, I've been able to achieve the much-needed mental health vacation. Forget the sun and surf and think low-season options like Europe and Northern U.S. cities like NYC and Chicago. Charter airlines also offer great deals if you're willing to fly on the days they take off and return.
- Winter Tires: Shop Around
Maybe you're smart and you got your dealership to throw in a set of winter tires. Maybe you're like me and settled for the all-weather mats. In any case, some part of the country has already experienced school closures due to snow. It's slick out there and if you're transporting kids winter tires are a necessity. These things are not cheap and run up to $300 per tire. A couple of tips to save on tires: first, comparison shop -- there are a lot of tire dealers out there with lots of stock and independent dealers are more likely to give you a good price; second, take advantage of mail-in rebates offered by manufacturers. You can save up to $50 per tire. Third, consider yourself saving money on the fender-bender you might have had if you'd stuck with your slippery all-season tires.
- Heating: Cut the Draft and Your Bill
Like you, I usually ignore the public service flyers from my provincial government telling me how to save on energy costs. Maybe I don't like to be reminded that there are things I can do to help the planet that I'm not doing. But wait -- I could save money too? Hydro and natural gas bills skyrocket over the winter -- sometimes to double what they are in the spring and fall. A few simple and inexpensive fixes could save a couple of hundred bucks this winter. Go to your hardware store and buy some cheap weather-stripping for your doors and windows. This will stop the drafts that are flooding your home with cold air and robbing you of heat. Look into local tax credits for energy retrofits like new windows and doors. If you don't want to spend any money, suck it up and wear an extra layer around the house.
- Entertaining: Be the Host with a Twist
We get sick of seeing friends and relations around the holidays but after a few weeks, hopefully we want to see them again. When your rich, single investment banker friend suggests a get together at a local hotspot, counter by inviting them all for a bring-your-own martini/hors d'oeuvre party at your place. This way you see your friends, save some money and guarantee you won't have to be host next time.