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Winter Fun on a Budget

Nov 5, 2021 | Personal Finance

How to have fun and save money in the winter

Baby, it’s Cold Outside

But Does That Mean the Fun Has to Stop?

Winter may not be the most comfortable time of the year for everyone. With its blistering cold temperatures, it’s almost impossible not to want to sink into hibernation mode. It may seem like your activities are limited because of the cold weather and dreary skies, but you just have to look a little harder to find them.

Skating on Thin Ice?

Here’s What You Need to Know About That

There’s no better way to celebrate the winter than skating on a frozen pond or a municipal ice rink. If you don’t know how to skate, this is the time to learn. Just be prepared to fall a few times, and stay near the railing. If you go on a lake or pond, make sure the ice is thick enough. Stay away from ice that’s less than four inches thick or has any cracks in it. A few good days of freezing temperatures should make it safe enough.

Also, check the Windchill Chart before you spend any serious time on the ice. (1)

It takes very little time to get frostbite or hypothermia if you combine freezing temperatures with a strong, frigid wind. It would probably be better to skate on a municipal rink if you’re uncertain about the windchill. You’re never far from the warmth of a shelter.

Go with a group of friends and play tag. If none of you knows how to skate, at least no one has the advantage.

If you go by yourself, don’t be shy about engaging with other people. There’s no shortage of friendly faces, and you may be able to find someone willing to give you a few pointers on skating.

Is it All Downhill From Here?

Depends on if You Know how to Ski

You could take a skiing weekend with friends, but unless you have access to a long, long slope, you’ll need to book time at a ski resort, and that’s not going to be cheap.

You may not be ready for the slopes just yet, but that doesn’t mean you can’t strap on the boards and do some cross-country skiing. And this is about finding inexpensive things to do this winter, and what’s cheaper than a ski-walk across a snowy field? But remember, skiing — even cross-country — is a physically demanding activity, so pace yourself. Dress in layers. Keep a thermos of hot cocoa or coffee with you, and ski single-file if you go with a group of friends. You don’t want anybody getting lost.

What was Rosebud?

A Sled. And Speaking of Sleds

Something most people haven’t done or even thought of since they were a kid, but there’s still a hill out there, just waiting to be sledded down. You probably have a public park somewhere in your town that has a hill dedicated to sledding in the winter. The same sensible precautions apply as when you were a kid: don’t start down the hill until the person ahead of you finishes their ride. Pick an area free of trees (which most park sledding hills are) and make sure the end of the ride doesn’t take you out too close to the sidewalk or street.

What’s on the Menu Today?

Taking a Restaurant Tour

If you’re going to hibernate, you’ll want to fill your belly for your long winter’s nap, so why not take a buddy for a late lunch? You can research that new restaurant’s menu — and prices — online before you go, so you know the best — and least expensive — items to order. They may even have specials.

Feel Like Learning Something While You’re Entertained?

Maybe it’s Time to Visit the Museum

This is like living in New York and never visiting the Empire State Building or the Statue of Liberty. You probably have a natural history or art museum in your town you’ve been meaning to visit since you were able to walk, but never quite had the time.

The time is now. You can get out of the house — which you’ll probably be seeing plenty of as the winter drags on — and go someplace entertaining and educational. Take the family or a group of friends. Most museums are free, or at least charge only a small admission fee, and you’ll end the visit slightly smarter than when you started it.

Who’s a Jolly, Happy Soul?

Frosty, of Course, But There’s No Reason You Can’t be, Too!

Also something you probably haven’t done in a while. This is one you can do with the family or a group of friends. See who can build the most original and creative snowman in a set time frame. And it wouldn’t be an outdoor winter activity if it didn’t devolve into a friendly snowball fight, but you may want to build a snow fort first.

What Do I Do if It’s Too Cold Outside?

Netflix and Chill

Sometimes you have to admit it’s just too cold and crummy outside because the roads are nothing but ice to leave the warmth of the living room couch. In that case, make some hot cocoa — or hot toddies — and a mound of popcorn, and find that show on one of the streaming services you’ve been meaning to binge. Dim the lights, cuddle up on the couch under the warmest, big blanket you own, and enjoy your night in.

Just because it’s cold doesn’t mean the fun has to go on ice until the spring thaw. Good times happen, no matter what the windchill is.

1.  Boeckmann, Catherine. “Windchill Chart for the United States.” Old Farmer’s Almanac, Old Farmer’s Almanac, 12 Feb. 2021, 

Written by Stan Timmons

Stan is a journalist, novelist, illustrator, magazine writer and comic book creator. With a lifetime of being a freelance creator, he’s learned a thing or two about saving money, building credit and living smart.

The information provided is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional financial advice. You should consult a credit counseling professional concerning the information provided and what should work best in your financial situation. And any action on your part in response to the information provided is at your discretion.

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