These frugal strategies will help keep the season’s temptations in check.
By Kimberly Palmer March 25, 2015 | 9:00 a.m. EDT
As the temperature rises, you might find yourself spending more time out and about, enjoying the pleasures of the season. But many of them come with a high price tag, from alfresco restaurant meals to weekend getaways. The U.S. NewsFrugal Shopper blog contributors shared budgeting tips for the season to help keep your spending in check.
Shop the spring sales
The beginning of spring is the perfect time to snag winter gear at a discount, according to RetailMeNot senior lifestyle editor Trae Bodge. From jackets to snow pants, retailers try to get rid of these items to make room for spring merchandise. Similarly, skis, snowboards and snow blowers are marked down now.
Stock up on frozen foods
Grocery stores often mark down frozen foods at the start of spring, and filling your freezer with them can help you cook healthy meals for less, suggests Offers.com spokesman Chris McGillicuddy. Frozen veggies work well in stir-fry recipes, and frozen fruits are great for blending into healthy smoothies.
Fix your home
Now that the weather is warm enough for outdoor work, it’s a good time to fix any pesky leaks or add insulation to the attic. Taking those measures now can help prepare your home for the heat of the summer, when utility bills tend to skyrocket. McGillicuddy points out that many retailers offer deals on home-improvement items this season.
Host a clothing swap
A change in temperature can often inspire a desire to shop andupgrade last year’s wardrobe. One way to satisfy this urge without blowing your budget is to trade gently-used clothes with friends. Jon Lal, CEO of BeFrugal.com, suggests first taking inventory of your wardrobe, then selecting some outfits for a fun clothing swap party with friends.
Visit the library
This tip is a good one at any time of year, but if you have a local library within walking distance of your home, then the warmer weather can be an especially pleasant time to make a trip. In addition to books and movies, Stefanie O’Connell, founder of thebrokeandbeautifullife.com, points out that free events and classes are often offered.
Go on a road trip
The time-honored tradition of aweekend road trip is especially appealing when the weather allows you to roll the windows down and let your hair blow in the breeze. Karen Cordaway, founder of MoneySavingEnthusiast.com, suggests talking to locals for the best (and most frugal) tips on where to eat and shop. She also says walking tours of your destination can be an enjoyable (and free) way to explore.
Spend less on weddings
Springtime is also wedding season, and if you’re invited to one (or more), and especially if you’re in the wedding party, you might want to consider putting some effort into cutting costs. Offers.com’s Amber Sager says that particularly when you’re the maid of honor, it’s easy to spend upward of $1,000 per wedding. She suggests spending less on a wedding gift, since you’re already giving so much of yourself.
Buy an affordable dress
When you’re attending a wedding or prom, you can find relatively low-priced dresses that look great. Sager suggests checking out the clearance sections of retailers, used dresses and online rental companies. Websites such as RenttheRunway.com and StyleLend.com make it easy to look like a princess for the night without spending like one.
Use your tax refund wisely
If Uncle Sam will soon be writing you a check after you file your taxes, then you might want to consider using that money to pay off any high-interest-rate debt or saving it for a big goal. That goal might be a summer vacation, future college tuition or retirement.
Now that the snow has passed, you might be able to cancel your gym membership and opt for outdoor workouts instead. Your local park or jogging route might offer a frugal alternative to treadmills and weightlifting equipment. Lal also reminds us not to forget old-fashioned Frisbee games or soccer with friends.
Make your own cleaners
If the season gives you the urge to clean, Lal suggests skipping pricey cleaners and instead making your own solutions with vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice and hydrogen peroxide. (Plenty of DIY recipes are available online.)
Air out your home
In addition to cutting your electricity costs, shutting down the heat and AC units will let the fresh spring air come into your home. Lal suggests opening the windows to savor this warm-but-not-hot weather while it lasts, before the summer heat has us reaching for the air conditioning switch.