How to Handle the Winter Financial Blues

Instead of shopping, consider these 12 steps to combat this season’s money fatigue.

A home during winter storm with car parked in front of the house.
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9. Take care of yourself. Employees who have contributed money to flexible spending accounts typically have until the end of the year (or until mid-March of the following year) to spend that money. New glasses, acupuncture appointments, dental check-ups, and physical therapy are all eligible, along with dozens of other health-related costs. If you've been putting off a doctor's visit, now is the time to schedule it—and keep the receipts for any out-of-pocket costs for easy filing.

10. Make your own hot drinks. When the mercury plunges, it's natural to want to curl up with a mug of hot cider or steamed mocha. The folks at, a site that fosters meeting savings goals, say there's nothing wrong with that, as long as you do your own heating and steaming at home. That way, you can save the difference for something bigger.

11. Get ready for tax changes. Pending the debate over how to resolve the so-called "fiscal cliff," taxes are expected to go up for most Americans next year. If you have the flexibility to bring any future earnings into 2012, that could reduce your tax burden next year. Adjusting retirement savings to funnel more income into pre-tax accounts can also help, along with keeping careful track of eligible deductions and tax credits.

[Read: Money Still in Your Flexible Spending Account? Use It or Lose It.] 

12. Set 2013 money goals. While you might have your eye on some huge goals, such as buying a home or getting a new job, the best way to achieve those goals is by breaking them down into smaller steps, according to BJ Fogg, director of Stanford's Persuasive Technology Lab. That might mean changing small, daily habits to start saving more, for example, or updating social media profiles to start more actively networking.

Do you have any tips to add to the list?