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Winter Clothing: When to Splurge, When to Save

Dec. 4, 2013
2 mins
Woman lays on bed casually browsing on her laptop and drinking a coffee

Canada is one of the best countries in the world to live -- but perhaps our harsh winters are the trade off.

Outfitting yourself for the coldest months of the year isn't just a fashion statement, it's a necessity. Winter weather gear expenses can add up fast - and it's definitely not a time to skimp on quality. Here's our guide to saving on cold weather clothing and when it's best to go ahead and splurge:

Splurge: winter coat

If there’s one thing you don’t want to “cheap out” on, it’s a winter coat. A good winter jacket can be the difference between an enjoyable winter season and a long and miserable one. To get the best deals on coats, try visiting factory warehouses where last year’s items sell for cheap. If you can only afford one, choose something versatile, that will work for business and pleasure. Make sure it's waterproof, has a high-tech or down lining, and has built-in head protection.

Save: snow pants

Most adults will deem snow pants unnecessary winter clothing, but for the kiddies, it’s a must-have. Again, you can find well-priced outdoor wear at factory warehouses. Sometimes, if you look hard enough, you can find good deals online as well. Just make sure that the shipping costs don’t eat away at the savings. Winter sport enthusiasts, however, require high quality - you want nothing less than the best on the mountain. Try to score your pants in the off season, and avoid destination mountain-town apparel stores - their prices are often premium due to location.

Save: long johns

If you’re going to skip the snow pants, but plan on playing outside (or take the pedestrian route to and from the office), you’re going to need a good pair of long johns. You can get these for fairly cheap at your local Walmart or department store of your preference. 

Splurge: good, warm socks

The first place to suffer the cold is your feet. Don’t take chances on frostbite and get yourself at least one or two pairs of really warm socks. You can find good socks in most any department store. Try Mark’s Work Warehouse or Costco for a bulk pack. 

Splurge: cold weather sporting gear

If you play a lot of outdoor sports, like I do, then you’ll need something that’ll keep you warm and toasty. Choose items that wick sweat away from the skin’s surface to prevent hypothermia. There really aren’t many cheaper options, but if outdoor sports are your thing, then you know you don’t want to cut corners when it comes to cold weather gear anyway. You can find great sales at the end of the season and online come the New Year. Winners often stocks up on cold weather gear and sells it for cheaper than your regular sports store would. 

Save: winter accessories

Perhaps the most inexpensive items on the list are the accessories you’ll need – mittens, gloves, toques and hats and a scarf. You can find these items used for even more savings, or in most department stores. If you’re feeling really crafty, you can even make your own. Besides, there's no point in shelling out for items that are easily (and frequently) lost.

Splurge: boots

A good pair of winter boots is key to making it through the longer months of winter. Just like your jacket, you’ll want to get something versatile – something warm, but stylish, that you can wear just about anywhere. If you’re looking for deals, end-of-season sales are your best bet. But if you absolutely have to get something now, try Winners and shopping online – especially come Boxing Day. Be sure to choose footwear that has enough room for those toasty warm socks, too.

Embracing winter

Plenty of Canadians dislike winter, which is sad because it’s one of my favourite seasons. If you dress warmly and embrace a couple of winter activities, you might find yourself changing your mind. The key is to dress for the weather.

Try wearing layers. You can always remove one as you warm up, or add another if it gets colder. Do you need something warm now, but don’t have the budget for it? I’m a firm believer that using credit when you don’t have the cash should only be done when it’s absolutely necessary – and staying warm through the winter is absolutely necessary.

If you’re going to use a credit card, why not choose one with cash back options? RBC® Cash Back MasterCard‡ offers no annual fee and two per cent cash back on grocery store purchases, and up to 1% on cash back on all other purchases.


The RATESDOTCA editorial team are experienced writers focused on sharing stories and bringing you the latest news in insurance and personal finance. Our goal is to provide Canadians with the information and resources they need to make better insurance and financial decisions.

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