Fall is upon us!
I know, it doesn’t really start until one month from today, September 22. However, ask any school aged person, and they’ll tell you, “Fall begins when vacation ends.” With the changing seasons come changing expenses. Here are some ways to keep your expenses in check this fall.
Trying to keep up with fashion can be quite costly. Rather than racking up the expenses by clearing the racks of local shops, try adding variety with ties, scarves, kerchiefs and/or a few different sweaters? It’s amazing what can be done with less expensive splashes of color and texture.
Back to School
By some accounts, going back to school can cost up to $1500 in the fall. Not only does going back to school bring with it the dreaded clothing shopping (unless the kids wear uniforms). Certainly accessorizing helps with the back to school wardrobe, but there are other expenses too. Its best to watch the flyers for these supplies. Dollar stores carry many of the items students need but office supply stores do run specials to draw people in. The key is to make sure to buy only those things that are deeply discounted.
Frequent short runs can consume quite a bit of gas. This fall, consider mapping out your morning and afternoon driving runs. When dropping kids off at school (or the bus) use that time out to take care of a few errands. It helps if you make a to do list either last thing the night before or first thing in the morning. Try to avoid the one-off runs that then end up being two or three runs downtown in the in-between hours.
With the shortening days comes an increase in the use of electricity. Many electric companies offer electric and heating efficiency audits. Some of those include free replacement bulbs. Some families increase their cooking. Cook heartier meals that leave left overs for additional meals. Note too that fall begins “soup season” too. Why not make larger amounts of soup that you can freeze and then use later? Consider doing consecutive batches of laundry to cut down on the cost of heating up the dryer.
At summer’s end, the baseball season is wrapping up and the football season begins. Fans gather to cheer for their favorite teams. Rather than taking on the burden of hosting the whole party, consider having a pot luck party. Share the cost and ensure some variety in the food! Not only will you save on the grocery bill, but with party goers doing some of the cooking, you’ll limit your utility use in the preparation.
Fall Home Decor
Welcoming fall with decorations inside and outside the some has become quite popular, and stores take great advantage of this fact. Rather than spending unnecessarily, try your hands at a seasonal craft or two. Why not make home-made candles or a pine-cone wreath? Consider a welcome sign from a cross cut section of log that you’ve made!
When the sun starts riding lower in the sky the heating season is also upon us. Now’s the time to get your chimney and furnace serviced. This serves two purposes, First you want to make sure that you’ve got a furnace that is functioning safely and that the flue isn’t clogged. Second, you want your heating system functioning at its highest efficiency. Two other considerations that will save you some money are to get the water pipes (if you have them) bled and consider locking in a price for your heating for the season. Other practical tips include checking the weather stripping along doors and storm doors and checking for drafts around your windows. While on the topic of windows. As it gets colder – keep curtains and blinds open during the day to increase passive solar warming of the rooms. By mid to late afternoon, close your curtains and blinds to help keep the heat in.
We’ve all heard it said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Make sure that you and your family get your vaccinations, that you get plenty of rest, eat properly, and dress for the weather. Small investments now can prevent greater costs later. Those costs include doctor’s visits, prescriptions (or over the counter remedies), and lost time at work either because you’re sick or your child is.
Holiday expenses can be more manageable if you start preparing for them now. Create a list of those who to whom you need to give a gift, and set the budget now. Set that money aside in a sinking fund so that it doesn’t have such a massive impact on your budget. Consider home-made gifts in lieu of shopping. Perhaps some of that soup that you’ve become famous for? Maybe you make really good jams or jellies? Do you know how to crochet or knit? Maybe now is a good time to learn a new craft or hobby!
With the fall consider packing a lunch that can be enjoyed in the crisp fall air. A thermos of coffee or soup can really hit the spot. Rather than buying the small individual sized chips, etc, consider buying the larger bags and portioning them out in zip-lock baggies. If you are concerned about the cost and environmental impact of bags, consider reusable containers. Carrying your lunch to school or work has multiple benefits. First, by bringing lunch with you, you avoid the impulse expense that is often less healthy that what you carry with you. Not only that, but by eating a good lunch you decrease binge eating later in the afternoon and evening.
Our House Drive In Theater
Movies are a wonderful experience, and drive in movies are all but extinct. If you have the ability, consider using the technology in your home to offer “drive in style” movies using your laptop, a projector and a white sheet outside. It creates a new and inviting environment that is far less expensive than going to the theater. Not only that the same snacks at home are so much cheaper to make than to buy at the theater!
Skip the gym and its payments! During the fall there are tons of things to do around the house and in the yard to keep you fit. Mowing, raking leaves, winterizing the lawn, chopping wood can give you a workout better than a gym can offer. Consider taking up walking and enjoying the crisp morning air and the beautiful colors that the fall can offer. Good fitness habits (not over doing it) will also help keep health care costs down!!
Soccer league, football and cross country all start in the fall. They can add costs to the budget. Consider going to a sports consignment shop to get gear. Regardless of where you get your equipment, to ensure safety (and thus reduce doctors costs) make sure that it fits, is in good repair, and that whomever is using it knows how to use it properly. Consider car pooling to practices and games.
If you haven’t yet done a written budget, now is a great time. With all these new and different costs arising, take the time to make a good plan for both income and expenses. Consider doing an “Zero-Based Budget” that puts every dollar to work for you.
ID Theft Protection
As kids go off to school their information gets shared with schools, doctors, sports teams – as does your financial and medical insurance information. If you have not yet covered you and your family with identity theft protection, this small investment can save you time, money, and effort in the event that your identity is indeed compromised.
Fall is a great time of the year. As the season changes, why not consider making the effort to change a financial habit or two?
Drop me a line to let me know what you’re doing to save on costs this fall!