Summer bodies (and budgets) are made in winter!

Summer bodies (and budgets) are made in winter. Image Credit: AdobeStock

Summer bodies (and budgets) are made in winter!

Seasonal overindulgence can affect your figure as well as your finances. We share advice on how to curb “comfort spending” in the cold months

Summer bodies (and budgets) are made in winter!

Summer bodies (and budgets) are made in winter. Image Credit: AdobeStock

When the sunlight begins to fade and that first, crisp chill hits the air, the cravings for comfort food suddenly appear. For many of us, this means hearty stews and roasts, decadent pasta sauces, buttery curries or gorgeously gooey desserts. Yum! 

But beware: seasonal overindulgence is not only limited to food but can also relate to personal finances. We’ve all heard of comfort eating and, similar to this, there’s comfort spending. For instance, at this time of the year, we may be tempted to fork out money for new clothes because last winter’s items are just so, well, last season. Or we may want to buy new soft furnishings, such as blankets, cushions and throws, to keep warm in style. Meanwhile, our electricity bill goes up as we plug-in heaters, keep TVs on longer, turn on ovens and hot-water taps more often, not to mention our lights are on for longer as daylight hours dwindle. We might also spend more on food – for example, on richer ingredients, speciality cheeses and desserts, or ready-made meals and takeaways.

This makes it the perfect time to extend the saying, “Summer bodies are made in winter”, to your budget – boosting your financial well-being along with your physical health. Winter can creep up on our finances and wreak havoc on our budget as we hibernate. “Having set your financial goals for 2021 at the start of the year, it’s important not to let winter throw you off track,” says Elize Botha, Managing Director of Old Mutual Unit Trusts. “We tend to take for granted the subtle but potentially significant impact that seasonal changes can have on our spending and personal finances.”

Here are tips to keep your finances toned and trim, and ready for summer celebrations:

Tip 1: Focus on your goals 

What are you saving for? What is your financial vision? “If you don’t know, speak to a financial planner who can help you get clear on financial goals that align with your desires for your life,” says Botha. 

If you are already clear on what you want, keeping these goals top of mind can help curb unnecessary spending. That way, it’s a much easier decision to put that designer item (which you don’t really need) back on the shelf because you know what you’re investing towards. 

It’s easy to forget your goals when you’re in the grips of a “lust purchase”, or you’re forgetting to turn off lights and heaters.

 “One way to keep your vision in focus is to indulge your creative streak by making a vision board,” says Botha. “Include pictures of everything you hope to accomplish with your finances, whether it’s paying off your bond, a holiday, early retirement, or your own business. Cut out images from old magazines or make a Pinterest board and print it out. Place this vision board somewhere you’ll see it every day. This could be in your kitchen or bedroom, or you could take a photo of it and make that the wallpaper for your computer or smartphone.”

Tip 2: Do a seasonal budget makeover

Review your budget in light of possible seasonal changes to your lifestyle and finances. To accommodate some of the expenses associated with winter, you may need to cut down in other areas. Don’t let this upset you. This kind of financial discipline is key to achieving success in building your long-term wealth.


Make some time to go through your existing budget, adjusting for any likely cost increases during winter (and if you don’t have a budget, use this time to create one based on your specific financial goals). Electricity is the most obvious one, so allow for that, perhaps seeing where you can reduce costs in other areas, such as entertainment and going out, to compensate. 

Tip 3: Commit and follow through

In the same way that regular exercise – even on cold and rainy days – is key to getting your summer body ready, so too is regularly exercising your restraint muscles when it comes to online purchases or all those big SALE signs.

cautions Botha

Even the best intentions will not prevent your budget from getting flabby if you don’t back them up with action. So, next time you find yourself indulging in a little retail therapy, take a look at your vision board and remind yourself that foregoing little luxuries now will bring you that much closer to achieving your long-term goals. 

“Once you have reviewed your plans and decided on the way forward, make every effort to commit and stick to the plan,” says Botha.

Tip 4: Be practical

“This can be a positive opportunity for the family to come together and brainstorm ways to keep costs low,” says Botha. 

Here are some ideas:

Reduce electricity

  • Turn off lights whenever you leave a room.
  • Wear an extra layer of warm clothing.
  • Use energy-saving cooking devices or just make sure to use the correct pots and pans (a large pan takes more energy to heat)
  • Cook extra to heat-and-eat the next day. 
  • Use a hot water bottle to warm your bed instead of an electric blanket.
  • Take short showers instead of baths (this also reduces your water bill).

Plan before you shop

This applies to everything you buy.  

  • Draw up a meal plan for the week, which will result in less waste. 
  • Make a list of only what you need before shopping and stick to it. 
  • Assess what additional items of clothing are absolutely necessary so you won’t be tempted to buy anything you don’t need. 

Shop smarter for groceries

  • Buy unpackaged, seasonal fruit and veg as well as no-name or ‘house brand’ products from your supermarket. These are usually cheaper without compromising on quality. 
  • Stock up on essentials if they are on sale. 
  • Instead of buying ready-made meals, cook from scratch to cut costs.

ALSO READ: Inheritance Tax Business Relief: What you need to know