The official start of fall began on September 22nd and many people have already begun preparing for the change in season. As you make your transition, why not put some effort toward saving some money?
Cutting costs is appropriate for any season and the following tips can help you have some fun in the process. From home-cooked meals to walks in the park, here are six ways that can help you save money this fall:
1. Cook at home
As the air starts to get crisp, the desire for warm, cozy food can get stronger. Although it may be tempting to head out to your favorite restaurant, you could save money trying new recipes and cooking meals at home. You might also have some fun, too.
To get started, try creating a meal plan for a full week. Doing so could ease the decision of what to cook each night and possibly help you save money on groceries. If you need a little inspiration, here are some recipe recommendations that could satisfy your fall palette:
- Baked sweet potatoes
- Butternut squash soup
- Slow cooker Texas chili
- Sweet and salty fall harvest salad
- Classic meatloaf
- Chicken pot pie
2. Avoid “bad day” spending
Weather can change our moods for better or worse. When the weather is warm and sunny, our moods may perk up. But if it’s cold and grey, people might look for another type of pick-me-up: impulse buying or splurging on unnecessary purchases.
If you feel the urge for retail therapy, do something you love instead. Go for a jog or hit the gym. Curl up with your favorite book or watch a movie. If you have children, play a game or create a project together. If you get your mind off the weather for long enough, your desire for unnecessary spending may just fade in the wind.
3. Get crafty
Fall may be one of the best seasons to use nature for art supplies. In addition to what you find outside, many craft stores also sell low-cost fall decor that you can make your own with a little creativity. Here are some simple ideas to help decorate your home and get crafty:
- Paint acorns different colors and place in a bowl
- Create a wreath for your front door using twigs, leaves and flowers
- Wrap some twigs and leaves around picture frames around your home
- Reuse mason jars in a variety of ways
4. Try a “no-spend” weekend
If you need to tighten your budget or meet a savings goal, a “no spend” weekend (or no-spend month!) could be the answer. The name of this tactic says it all - no money leaves your wallet or bank account the entire weekend. Credit cards are off limits, too. The only things you can use are items you have already paid for such as groceries, cable and monthly memberships.
Do you need ideas to keep you busy? There are plenty of ways to occupy your time without reaching for your wallet. Try some of these constructive ways to spend your “no-spend” weekend:
- Invite friends over for a night-in
- Deep clean your house or apartment
- Explore local attractions with free admission
- Start or finish a home project
- Watch a new TV or movie series
5. Weatherproof your home
As the weather gets colder, energy bills can also rise. Space heating is the largest energy expense in the average U.S. home and accounts for nearly 45% of all energy costs1. In addition to retaining heat inside your home, weatherproofing can also keep the cold air and moisture outdoors.
First, make sure windows and door frames are sufficiently caulked and sealed. Heat can escape from even the smallest cracks so double-check to ensure everything is airtight. Weather stripping can also be used on doors to help eliminate drafts between the door and the floor. If you live in a colder climate, applying plastic over your windows can add an extra layer of insulation as well.
Once your home is air sealed, check the condition of the insulation in your attic and basement. Insulation can be expensive but it can also quickly pay for itself in energy savings2. If you do need to replace or increase the amount of insulation in your home, consider it an investment into future energy savings.
For more information on weatherproofing your home, check out these fall and winter energy savings tips from the U.S. Department of Energy.
6. Soak in the natural beauty
If you’re thinking about taking a vacation this fall, why not take a road trip to view some fall foliage? Every region of the country offers its own autumnal beauty and a weekend trip could satisfy your needs for adventure and saving money. Whether you go camping on a budget or stay with family and friends, you could potentially save a good amount of money on travel and hotel costs.
If you need guidance to finding the best sights in your area, explore the following links:
Fall into savings
As you trade tank tops for long sleeves, changing some of your spending habits to save money may be a good idea as well. After all, fall is a time to burn leaves - not your cash flow. Enjoy the season!
*This article was first published on September 21, 2016.