Keep warm and avoid a budget blow-out this winter.

Cold cash: budgeting for winter


Winter is upon us, and with it comes higher power bills, increased food costs and tightened purse strings. Don’t let the chilly season blow your budget. Here are six easy ways to keep your finances warm as the temperature drops.

Get smart

Smart home technology doesn’t just make life easier, it can also save a household money, especially in winter. If you already have a smartphone and smart TV, consider taking the next step and invest in a smart thermostat. Used properly, this clever device can sense when you are asleep or away from home and adjust the temperature accordingly. You could also install smart power outlets (which automatically power down when they detect a device is not in use), and smart light bulbs (which minimise wasted energy by regulating brightness and can be controlled remotely).

Winter budgeting thermostat INP

Smart home technology doesn’t just make life easier, it can also save a household money, especially in winter.

It's a wrap

Compared to many countries, Kiwi homes are damp, drafty and poorly insulated. Luckily DIY is in our DNA. Devote a day to boosting your thermal envelope – line your curtains, repair window latches, and seal leaks around windows and doors with weather stripping. See if you are eligible for an EECA Warmer Kiwi Homes Insulation grant, which covers up to 90% of the cost of installing insulation – and don’t forget to rug up. Rugs add another layer of insulation, and they look great too.

Cook up a storm

Cooking at home is the easiest way to save money in winter and there’s no better time for slow cooking and one-pot-wonders. Make the most of cheaper meat cuts and seasonal winter vegetables. Cook in bulk and freeze meals for another day and, once you’ve turned off the oven, open the door and let the heat inject more warmth into your kitchen. Try meat-free days and opt for frozen or canned vegetables when fresh gets too pricey. Missing being social? Instead of heading out to an expensive restaurant with friends, host a potluck dinner party or mid-winter Christmas feast.

Winter budgting stew INP

There’s no better time than winter for slow cooking and one-pot-wonders.

Water it down

Hot water accounts for a big chunk of your power bill, so it’s worth giving some love to your hot water cylinder. Water pipe insulation and cylinder wraps boost energy efficiency and are cheap and easy to install. Consider lowering the cylinder temperature to cut heating costs further (but don’t go below the recommended 60 degrees Celsius). Washing your clothes in cold instead of warm water is another simple hack, as is installing a low-flow shower head and encouraging everyone in your household to keep showers short and sweet.

Hunker down

Combine frugality with frivolity by getting the whole family on board. Have a Netflix date night, host a family movie marathon, or organise a blackout night, where you turn off all the power (apart from the fridge!), feast on chips and dip and play candlelit boardgames. Better still, relive lockdown and challenge yourselves to an entire weekend of family fun within the four walls of home. Tick off some of those books on your reading list and instead of spending your hard-earned cash buying them, set up a book swap with friends, or scour your neighbourhood for a book swap box.

Winter budgeting movie night INP

Have a Netflix date night, host a family movie marathon, or organise a blackout night.

Build a nest egg

Not only is winter a great time to save money, it’s also a good time to make it. Turn winter into spring by having a big clear out and selling items you no longer need. Boost your skills and earnability with free online courses and podcasts or turn your hobby into a money-making side hustle.


Story by Vanessa Trethewey for the Winter 2024 issue of AA Directions Magazine. Vanessa Trethewey is a freelance writer who regularly contributes to AA Directions magazine.

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