8 Ways to Profit Off Your Cabin Fever

Winter can be the pits. The weather's cold, and getting outside can be tough. You've got cabin fever, and you can't wait for spring.

But perhaps you can use the time stuck inside to your advantage. Now may be the time to get a handle on your finances and perhaps even make a little extra money while you're cooped up.

Consider these ways to improve your finances during the long, cold winter.

1. Optimize your investments

You may have spent much of the last year simply watching your investments do their thing, and thankfully they've probably done well. Every portfolio is due for a review now and again, so consider taking a look at your investments to ensure you're set up for maximum returns.

This may mean rebalancing your stocks and mutual funds so you aren't disproportionately invested in one area. It may mean selling some investments that have underperformed, or doing the same for stocks that may be due for a sharp fall. Making some good choices now could allow you to enjoy another year of worry-free investing. (See also: How an Exit Strategy Can Make You a Better Investor)

2. Get your taxes in order

Your tax returns will be due in mid-April. It's always wise to avoid waiting until the last second to file, and you should consider using this winter time to research the best ways to avoid paying too much at tax time.

Perhaps there are tax credits and deductions you never knew you could take advantage of. Maybe you have time to make IRA contributions or make other moves to reduce your tax liability. Or maybe you need time to dig up those receipts from charities you donated to in 2017. Doing taxes may not seem like fun, but it can be interesting, especially if you do the work to maximize your savings. (See also: 7 Surprising Tax Deductions You Might Miss)

3. Put together a pitch for a raise

Now may be the time of year when you can focus on advancing your career. Maybe you've been seeking a raise or promotion for a while, but haven't had the time to build your case. With a little time on your hands, now you may have the ability to develop a solid pitch to your supervisor. This may mean collecting examples of goals you've achieved, or ways in which you've helped the company. It may mean collecting data on salaries and how yours compares to the industry average. Take the time to find the right tone, make the right arguments, and go for it. (See also: 5 Times You Should Demand a Raise)

4. Look for a new job

What if you don't want a promotion or raise, because you can't stand your job to begin with? What if you feel like the only way to make more money is to switch companies or careers? Well, use the winter months to look for a new one. If you're stuck inside, take the time to update your resume, get active on LinkedIn, and reach out to your online network.

There are many employers that post new jobs at the start of the year, because they may have received the budget approval to hire. The caveat to this is that many people look for new jobs as part of their New Year's resolutions, so you may face some stiff competition. But if you want a new job and know what you're looking for, take advantage of the time to search for a new career in a thoughtful and deliberate way. (See also: 8 Signs You Should Quit Your Job)

5. Develop a side hustle

Perhaps a raise or a new job isn't yet in the cards. That's OK, you can still boost your income by finding other ways to make money on the side. Maybe now is the time to develop that pottery hobby into something revenue producing. Perhaps all this time inside the house will lead you to start a profitable blog or podcast. Whatever it is, you have the ability to make some extra cash just by leveraging your current talents. And who knows? Maybe the side hustle can eventually become your main hustle. (See also: 14 Best Side Jobs For Fast Cash)

6. Create budgets

Why not use the start of a new year to get smarter about spending less money than you earn? Now is the time to take a look at your spending and develop real limits on what you're buying and how much you are paying.

Ideally, you should have numerous budgets for things like eating out, entertainment, housing costs, automotive expenses, and even gifts. These budgets should be attainable but allow you to save money at the end of each month. Sticking to budgets can be hard, but even if you lose discipline during the year, you may succeed in reducing expenses in some areas and making progress in reducing debt or boosting your savings. (See also: Build Your First Budget in 5 Easy Steps)

7. Review your insurance policies

Oh yeah, everyone loves looking at insurance policies in their spare time. Exciting stuff, huh? It's true that this does not seem like fun, but a periodic review of your policies related to auto insurance, homeowners insurance, health insurance, and life insurance — as well as the rates you are paying — is a good financial move.

During this process, you may find that you are underinsured and placing yourself at risk, or that you are paying too much for insurance for someone in your situation. If you do a little rate shopping, you may find you can save significant money by switching providers. (See also: 7 Times to Update Your Homeowners Insurance)

8. Put on a sweater

When you're inside during the winter, you'll be tempted to crank that thermostat for maximum comfort. Consider instead keeping the house temperature lower and simply wearing more layers. While you may feel like you need the thermostat set to 72, you could probably get used to having it below 68.

Last year, my family's main heater broke during a snowstorm, and our house temperature fell into the 50s. Guess what? We threw on some extra sweatshirts, cuddled under some more blankets, and survived fine. Every few degrees of temperature on the thermostat could add up to hundreds of degrees — and dollars — annually, so dial it back and save. (See also: 5 Big Winter Expenses That Could Freeze Your Budget)

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