Christmas is expensive – presents, travel, food and drink all add up quickly and can leave your wallet a little on the light side heading into summer.
Whether you’re trying to seriously rein in your spending after the festive season or just looking for ways to save a few dollars in 2022, here are some tips to help.
Chill out at home
Closing the curtains goes a long way towards keeping your home’s internal temperature down.
Fit security latches to windows so they can be left open when you’re out and create airflow through the house by opening doors and windows in different rooms.
Fans use less energy than air conditioning but if you must use the latter, there are ways to do it more efficiently.
- Start by cleaning the filter using a vacuum cleaner or warm water. Repeat every couple of weeks.
- Shut doors and windows and set the thermostat to about 24C – setting it lower won’t make it work faster.
- Most air conditioning units are designed to be used in just one room so don’t try to cool the whole house.
Longer term, think about strategically planting a few deciduous trees to provide shade in summer but still let the winter sun in.
In a country like New Zealand, there’s really never any reason to be bored.
Every region has some kind of free, natural attraction worth checking out, whether it’s stargazing in Wairarapa, ripping down Gisborne’s Rere Rockslide, or soaking in the natural hot pool at Kerosene Creek, south of Rotorua.
Whether you’re hitting the road or planning a staycation this summer, check out district council and regional tourism organisation websites to find out what’s nearby.
Other tried and tested options include museums and galleries, many of which are free for locals. Those that aren’t often ask for a donation rather than having a set entry fee.
Most borrowing from your local library is free, though there may be a charge for new titles and DVD hire (if that’s still your thing).
Parks are hard to beat with kids and even better with a picnic. Find one near a beach/river/lake and tack a bit of fishing on to make a proper day of it.
Bag an accommodation bargain
Because uncertainty seems to be the only certainty lately, last-minute booking sites are often the way to go for accommodation deals.
While there is an ever-increasing number of them – think Wotif, Expedia, and the appropriately named Last Minute – it’s hard to go past SkyScanner.
Despite the name, SkyScanner can be used to round up the best deals on accommodation and rental cars, as well as flights.
Many accommodation providers also offer rewards and loyalty schemes for repeat guests. Some are free, others aren’t and one of my personal favourites – the Top 10 Club – comes at a cost but is money well spent if you have a family.
A two-year membership costs $49 and members get at least 10 per cent off (up to $40) all bookings for sites, cabins, units and motels across 49 Top 10 Holiday parks – my last booking was discounted by 30 per cent.
Speaking of loyalty programmes…
Check out deals for membership or repeat visits to local attractions, restaurants, bars and cafés and Stuff’s guide to getting the most from the schemes.
Carry snacks and DO NOT pay for water
If you have kids, being prepared for the inevitable whines of “I’m hungry” could save you a fortune.
A bottle of water from the dairy or supermarket can cost almost as much as a reusable drink bottle from The Warehouse. Fill a bottle at home, throw in a slice of lemon if you’re feeling fancy, and you’re set.
Heading away? Stock up on snacks and fill those water bottles before you hit the road and avoid haemorrhaging cash at petrol stations along the way.
(Pro-tip from my mum, who took six children on multiple summer holidays: Challenging the little darlings to see who can make their hard or chewy lolly last the longest will temporarily silence the equally inevitable whines of “Are we there yet?”)
Pause your gym membership
Nobody’s suggesting you vegetate for the summer but, if your contract allows it, consider putting your gym membership on ice for a while.
Make the most of the opportunity to exercise outdoors and head back inside when things cool off again. Who wants to be in a sweltering gym, anyway?
Everyone loves a barbecue and firing up the grill is not only cheaper than using the stove, it has the added bonus of keeping the kitchen cool.