This post contains a sponsored inclusion of GoodRx, but all of the opinions within are those of The Everymom editorial board.
“Wow, kids are so affordable!” Said no parent in the history of ever. In fact, the first thing parents often complain about is the cost of raising kids. Rightfully so, considering how expensive the basic necessities are nowadays, then add all the extra things children require on top. Just the cost of childcare alone has skyrocketed in a matter of a few years. We may all have different experiences as parents, but money is one thing most of us can agree on—rather, the fact that we could all use more of it. Even more so when winter rolls around because how on earth can we save any money when gifting season is right around the corner?
Budgeting during the holidays sounds like an impossible feat, but there are a few ways to hack a bank account (the legal way) without cutting your kid’s Christmas list in half. Frankly, winter is an expensive season even without the holidays. Freezing temps result in frequent illnesses, higher gas and electricity bills, more expensive clothing and gear for trekking outdoors, the list goes on. We’ve gathered the most common winter expenses and provided helpful tips for how to save money on each one.
Save money on medications
My kids have already been sick three times in the last two months, and cold and flu season has barely begun. Every parent I talk to seems to have the exact same experience, so either the children have figured out how to synchronize their immune systems or this is the new normal. Their medical bills this year are rivaling their hospital labor and delivery fees—epidural and all. Our monthly trips to the pediatrician and local pharmacy were getting out of hand, so we started using GoodRx to save on prescription costs. It’s helped tremendously.
There are at least a dozen pharmacies in the four-mile radius around our house and their medication prices vary drastically. I don’t know one mom who has the time to call 12 pharmacists to find the cheapest option available. Well, GoodRx does exactly that by offering free access to transparent and lower prices for brand and generic medications through their website and mobile app. Anytime we receive a prescription, I immediately search for it in my GoodRx app and scroll through their list of prices to find the most affordable option. I’ve saved up to 80 percent on certain medications, and when your kids are sick every other week, that makes a huge difference.
With cold and flu season starting, GoodRx is a financial necessity for our family. They make it easy to access antivirals and medications, which can shorten the duration and severity of their illness. Their discounts beat the average insurance copay more than 50 percent of the time on some of the most commonly prescribed medications. That’s a huge win for families with crazy copays (*cough* like my husband’s insurance). Their services are totally free and our top recommendation for saving money during the upcoming cold months. And GoodRx has brought cold and flu savings and information together in one easy-to-navigate resource to make cold and flu season a little easier for parents.
Reduce heating costs
Raise your hand if you’ve also been personally victimized by a staggering electricity bill this year. Our energy usage was hitting us harder than a car payment. Finally, we decided we couldn’t keep letting our thermostat hold us hostage, so we picked up the phone and gave our energy company a piece of our mind. Turns out, they’re surprisingly open to negotiation, especially when you mention their competitors. But if you haven’t resorted to such tactics just yet, here are a few other ideas to keep those heating costs in check:
- Seal any drafts and insulate your home properly to prevent heat loss.
- Set your thermostat to a lower, energy-efficient temperature when you’re not at home or when you’re sleeping.
- Use space heaters to heat specific areas you’re using versus central heating when possible.
- During the daylight hours, make the most of natural light by keeping curtains and blinds open. This will not only brighten your home but also help to naturally heat it, reducing the need for artificial lighting and heating.
Thrift or shop secondhand
I’ve lived in North Texas for about 25 years now, and the first time I had to purchase a true winter coat, I was shocked and a little appalled at the price tag. But at least I know I won’t outgrow a quality winter coat. My kids, not so much. I am unwilling to drop hundreds of dollars on winter gear for my kids every single year, especially when they outgrow it quickly. So we either buy their coats a size up to increase their longevity or we buy secondhand. Holiday outfits for kids are another great item to thrift since they’ve likely only been worn a few times. If you’re not fond of in-person thrifting, then secondhand sites like ThredUp and Kidizen are a great alternative.
Limit hot water usage
I know this sounds like a crime when the water leaving your faucet is three degrees away from freezing over. We’ve all been guilty of creating a sauna in our bathrooms with 30-minute hot showers. However, hot showers won’t save you the minute you step foot on the cold tile and reactivate the shivers. Hot water is also guilty of drying out our already moisture-deprived skin during the winter. Stick to warm water and shorter showers, and use a space heater if your bathroom is truly unbearable. You can set a lower temperature on your water heater to automatically limit your usage as well.
Another way to save on hot water usage is by insulating your pipes. As a Southerner, I never knew this was even an option until that infamous Texas freeze in 2021. Insulating water pipes reduces heat loss and can raise water temperature two to four degrees hotter. You also won’t have to wait as long for hot water when you turn on a faucet or showerhead, which helps conserve water. Many Texans realized the dangers of frozen water pipes that year, so take it from us when we say it’s a worthwhile investment no matter where you live.
Get creative with holiday spending
And now finally, holiday spending. If this is typically your biggest financial pain point of the season, you’re not alone. Our family is pretty large on both sides with lots of children to purchase gifts for. A few years ago we decided to implement Secret Santa for the adults and it’s been a great way to alleviate costs. You can set whatever price limit feels most reasonable and have everyone send out wishlists in a group chat. Sites like Elfster simplify Secret Santa by drawing names for everyone and allow you to build wishlists with products from hundreds of retailers.
To keep track of spending, make a list at the beginning of a season and assign each person a specific budget. Then scope out upcoming holiday sales at your favorite stores and shop strategically. You could also take out cash or use prepaid gift cards to ensure you’re sticking to your predetermined budget. This is something I’ll be trying this year because my self-control tends to fly out the window when I’m shopping for the kids. DIY and handmade gifts are also a super cute alternative for relatives who appreciate meaningful presents.
This post contains a sponsored inclusion of GoodRx, but all of the opinions within are those of The Everymom editorial board. We only recommend brands we genuinely love.