The unofficial start of fall is here now that Labor Day is behind us. The summer months can be an expensive time for many because of vacations and summer events, and the fall months can inflict similar pain on a person's budget. Between school starting up for both children and many adults, higher utility bills because of colder weather, and the expensive holidays rapidly approaching, a consumer’s wallet can quickly be drained.
Even though added expenses may be popping up in your life during these fall months, there are many smart ways to save. These include:
- Open your windows. The fall months usually bring much more enjoyable and pleasant weather. If the temperature is nice outside, then you should try to open your windows and let in the cooler, fresh air flow through your home for as long as you can. This can be a great way to save money because you can give your air conditioner or your heater a much-needed break.
- Prepare meals at home. During the summer, you may have caught yourself going out to eat often because it was too hot to cook or you wanted to enjoy a fun restaurant patio. However, with the fall, the weather is usually cooler, so you should be able to prepare nice home-cooked meal more often with no excuses. Some great ideas to enjoy the cooler weather include breaking out your crock-pot and making some delicious soups or stews. Using your oven will also help keep you warm. Which brings us to:
- Buy a programmable thermostat. You can’t keep those windows open forever. A programmable thermostat is a small investment that can usually save you a decent amount of money over the long run. You can set this thermostat for different temperatures throughout the day; set it lower for when you are not home, then warm things up when it is needed. According to the EPA, you may be able to save nearly $200 each year by using a programmable thermostat. That is a great return for something that can cost less than $50 upfront!
- Cancel (or put a hold on) your gym membership. During the summer, you may have kept your gym membership because you might not have wanted to suffer in the hot weather. This fall, you should think about canceling your gym membership — or simply putting it on hold for a few months if there are penalties associated with canceling. Too many people think that once it gets cold outside that they need their gym membership because there is no other way to work out. However, that is simply incorrect. There are plenty of ways to work out for cheap and sometimes even free either outside or in your home. Examples of affordable ways to work out include riding your bike; going for a hike; running in your neighborhood; following a fitness or yoga DVD at home; and more.
- Weatherize your home. You may not be experiencing freezing weather just yet, but that is probably just around the corner. You can prepare yourself now for higher fall and winter utility bills by spending money on weatherproofing your home. Examples include checking for any air leaks in doors and windows and sealing them or insulating an attic more efficiently and effectively. Ask a professional for a free estimate on home insulation, and see how long it will take your investment to pay off. You’ll end up being green as well as saving green. Better still, your utility company may offer rebates or other incentives to help fund the weatherizing
- Go to the library. With the rise of the Internet, the library has lost many of its customers. If you have not been to your local branch in some time, we recommend you get over there and renew your library card. The library can be a great way for you to save money and enjoy yourself. There is nothing better than sitting by a warm fire with a good book. Many libraries today offer DVDs as well for little or no charge.
Follow these simple steps, and you could find yourself with some extra spending money when the holidays roll around. Don’t forget to reward yourself for your efforts!