It’s officially Fall 2016 and with a new season comes new expenses. Fall and Winter are the most expensive seasons of the year. Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas are right around the corner. The beginning of fall is the best time to step back, look at your budget and goals for saving money.

This time of year has a lot of up-coming expenses such as

  • Back-to-school shopping
  • Halloween decorations
  • Halloween costumes
  • New winter clothes for the family
  • Thanksgiving dinner
  • Harvest decor
  • Black Friday
  • Holiday parties
  • Christmas presents
  • Christmas dinner
  • After Christmas sales

These expenses don’t have to drain your bank account though. Here are some ways to save money this Fall so that you’ll have more money left over for the Holidays:

  1. Buy used winter clothes. Thrift stores are full of lightly used, fashionable sweaters, coats, jeans, scarves and boots. You can also shop at places like Plato’s Closet or Poshmark to buy gently used clothing that are 50% less than retail.
  2. Skip pumpkin spice lattes at Starbucks. Make your own PSLs at home for less (but equally as good) . Here is the best copycat pumpkin spice latte from Good Housekeeping. With this delicious recipe, you can make 10 lattes at home for the price of one Starbucks latte!!
    • Just to put it in perspective: 3 months of only two grande pumpkin spice lattes per week at Starbucks will cost you about $120.
    • Also, don’t buy the overpriced Green Mountain Pumpkin Spice K-Cups and go with Victor Allen Pumpkin Spice K-Cups: half the price, but the same delicious pumpkin flavor.
  3. Don’t use a credit card for your Fall and Christmas purchases. Using a credit card to pay for Holiday purchases could end up costing you double the price you paid with interest rates as high as they are. According to a MagnifyMoney survey, “Less than half of those surveyed think they can pay off their holiday debt in less than 5 months. 55% plan to take more than 5 months or just make the minimum payments, which could extend the debt to 10 years or more.” Don’t start a new year with a ton of debt. Do the math for yourself and see how much money you will be losing to pay off that debt: https://www.creditkarma.com/calculators/debtrepayment
  4. Start budgeting and planning for holiday expenses now! Pick up side jobs to pay for your holiday expenses instead of putting it on a credit card to pay off next year(s). Write your Christmas list now and think of ways you can pay for it without using a credit card.
  5. DIY Halloween, Fall and Thanksgiving Decor. It’s not as time consuming or difficult as it sounds. I’m not particularly crafty or creative, but I was able to decorate my whole home with beautiful harvest/Fall decor for under $35. Decor from HomeGoods or Kirklands could easily cost $100 or more and often times, you are able to make the same items for a lot less yourself. Check out my 70 Cheap DIY Fall Decor Ideas to get you started. Also, Pinterest is also full of creative Fall decor ideas too!
  6. DIY Fall Home & Beauty Items. Skip Yankee Candle, Bath and Body Works and Micheals.
  7. DIY Halloween Costumes – Costumes at Spirit or Walmart will cost you $20-$40, but you can make your own for half that price. Moreover, you will be free to customize your look and be as creative as you’d like. Plus, you’re costume will be unique. Tip: You can find most materials to make your costume at Thrift Stores.
  8. Don’t use the heat or air conditioner unless you really need it. Use sweaters, cozy pajamas, slippers and your fireplace to keep you warm. Cook with the stove and/or oven to heat the house. Also, early Fall is the perfect time to go without the AC and open up the windows to enjoy the cool, crisp air as temperatures dip in the 60s and 70s.
  9. Sell things you don’t need. This will not only declutter your home, but it will help you cover the costs of the holidays. Tips: make a list of things you haven’t used in a long time and/or don’t need.
    Places to Sell:

    • Craigslist (furniture, electrics, etc.)
    • Ebay (you can sell basically anything here, but some items will sell faster than others)
    • Poshmark (clothing). See my previous post about Poshmark for more information.
    • Amazon (books and other media)
    • Etsy (vintage or handmade items)
    • Consignment shops (clothes)
    • Plato’s Closet (clothes)
    • Trade in programs (e.g. Gamestop for games) or Walmart for electrics)
  10. Buy seasonal vegetables and fruits to reduce grocery spending. Budget friendly recipes using Fall fruits and vegetables: Allrecipes’ Fall Fruits and Vegetable Recipes  and 28 Fall Recipes That Showcase Seasonal Produce
    • corn
    • squash
    • apples
    • pumpkins
    • sweet potatoes
    • carrots
    • pears
    • figs
    • cranberries
      Here is a full list of all the seasonal fruits and vegetables.
  11. Buy your produce at Farmer’s Markets instead of grocery stores. Not only will you be saving money, but you will be supporting local farmers.
  12. Plan for free & cheap Fall and Halloween activities instead of expensive outings like theme park haunted houses, vacations, lavish parties, or pricy ghost tours. See my list of 101 Cheap & Free Fall Bucket List Ideas. Fall is a great time to find fun and affordable things to do!
  13. Reduce spending during Football Season. Some example expenses: NFL Sunday Ticket($350). Official NFL Jerseys($300). Season tickets ($500-$1000 per person). Average tailgating costs per season ($500). $80 NFL ticket price per game. As you can see, all these expenses can really add up.
    • Have a potluck football game party at home.
    • Only buy beer when it’s on sale (and take advantage of coupons and cash back offers with Checkout 51 and Ibotta)
    • Attend a watch party
    • If you have to have a season ticket, split the costs with a friend. You could even make some money back by selling the big game seats.
    • Never buy concession food
    • Buy team apparel in the offseason
  14. Winterproof your home. These things will help you save money on your energy bill during Fall/Winter months:
    • Clean gutters to prevent icicles and ice dams from forming later
    • Clockwise ceiling fans – pushes hot air along the ceiling towards the floor
    • Window insulation film –  keeps 70% of your heat from leaking out of windows. $20 per kit
    • Changing furnace filters
    • Draft Guards – keeps heat from escaping under the door. $15
    • Adding weatherstripping around doors. $5-10
    • Close the fireplace’s damper when you aren’t using it.
    • Install a dryer vent seal to keep cold air out. $20
    • Open blinds to let in the sun’s warmth during the day
    • Add sweep to garage door
    • Use LED bulbs and christmas lights
    • Get your Heater serviced
  15. Cook at home. Stop eating out. This is a great way to save a little extra for the Holidays without having to work more or take on debt. Even if your eating out budget is as low as mine ($50 a month), you will still save $150 by Christmas!
  16. Maximize savings on groceries. Check weekly ads, use coupons, and cash back apps for groceries and shopping. It may not add up to much on a weekly basis, but even if you only save $10 a week from now until Christmas, you save $120 by the end of December.
  17. Swagbucks – This my favorite way to earn a little extra money for the Holidays because its easy and convenient. Without much effort, you can earn AT LEAST $25 a month doing surveys, watching videos, doing your regular shopping, etc. with only taking 5-10 minutes of your time a day. Start now, and by Christmas time you’ll have an extra $75. Read my previous post to learn more about Swagbucks. Other options are Opinion Outpost or Harris Poll
  18. Eliminate impulse spending. Don’t get carried away with all the savings and holiday shopping. Only buy something if you need it, not because it’s 60% off. 88% of impulse buys are prompted by sales.
    Tips that help me avoid impulse buys:

    • Wait at least 4 days before considering purchasing something that isn’t on your shopping list.
    • Unsubscribe from weekly sale ads and price alerts for retail stores because most impulse buys are done online these days. No need for extra temptation!
    • Save your receipt just in case. Sometimes after buying something you didn’t need, you’ll have buyer’s remorse and you can return it!
  19. Get your patio furniture and grills now. You will get deep discounts on outdoor items because stores are trying to get rid of them to make room for Christmas decor.
  20. Buy in bulk. With Thanksgiving and Christmas around the corner, now is the best time of year to buy in bulk for big family dinners. Things like stuffing, mashed potatoes, pasta, canned veggies, canned milk are good choices to buy in bulk.
  21. Host a potluck Fall or Holiday party. 
  22. Host a yard sale before it gets too cold out. Yard sales are another great way to make extra money for Fall and Christmas expenses. Read my previous article for how to have a successful yard sale.
  23. Buy discounted gift cards before the holidays for up to 50% off on websites like Gift Card Granny or Raise
  24. Book holiday flights now, If you are traveling this holiday season. You will get the best prices the earlier you book. Track price changes on Kayak and book when they drop! Read my previous article fore more money saving travel tips
  25. Make your own gifts for Christmas this Fall to save money on Christmas presents. It’s fun and frugal! Visit this Pinterest board for over 1,000 DIY Christmas Gift Ideas

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