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Family in Fall

Fall is more expensive than we often admit. When Labor Day weekend wraps up, prime vacation season is over and we’re done with back-to-school shopping, which makes it feel like there might be a spending reprieve. But fall means great shopping, trying to cram activities in before winter hits, Halloween, holiday shopping and holiday hosting, all of which really add up.

Regardless of the climate around you or your pumpkin spice tendencies, using your money wisely in the fall of 2016 can ensure you start 2017 in a healthy financial situation. This year, skip the impulsive fall spending with these 13 painless tips.
  1. Adopt the “pay yourself first” method. Whenever you get a paycheck, pay your savings account first to make sure putting away money gets prioritized over impulse spending.
  2. Satisfy your fall shopping craving at a thrift store. If you’re looking for the perfect new sweater or purse, buy it secondhand.
  3. Plan your meals for the week to avoid eating out. The season of the crock pot is upon us. Make big meals and freeze the leftovers so you aren’t tempted to order in.
  4. Eliminate “bad day” spending by finding go-to fixes that aren’t costly. Weather changes can make us grumpy, which can lead to splurging on something totally unnecessary. However, mood remedies don’t have to break the bank. Free podcasts break up an anxiety-inducing commute, and going for a run at the end of a long day can boost your mood. So can fixing up a great dinner with ingredients you already have — or making a frozen pizza, for that matter.
  5. Switch to buying generic for a few of your groceries every week. You don’t need to do a complete shopping list overhaul. Instead, just target three or four items whose name brands you aren’t attached to and make the change.
  6. Try a “no-spend weekend.” Doing a full week (or even month) of not spending any money out (i.e., no restaurants, bars or recreational shopping) can be daunting. So instead, just try two days at a time. Use your food at home to make meals, skip alcohol for the weekend, and plan to invite friends over or spend some quality time with Netflix.
  7. If you have children who are begging you to buy them pricey Halloween costumes, try to cut costs by having a costume swap with the other parents in your neighborhood.
  8. DIY your fall decor this year. Make your own candles, your own potpourri and your own sugar body scrubs.
  9. Break up with espresso. Creeping down the rabbit hole of pumpkin spice lattes (which lead into peppermint mochas, which lead into gingerbread lattes) can cost you about $5 every time you feed your craving. If you get three fancy espresso drinks a week for the next four months, you’re spending roughly $240 on hot beverages from now until the end of the year. As a solution to this, whenever you go out for coffee, limit yourself to only ordering drip coffee or tea.
  10. And if you require the chic espresso drinks, make them at home. You’ll need concentrated coffee or cold brew, simple syrup, chocolate syrup and milk. If you want to go really crazy, you could even opt for pumpkin or gingerbread syrup instead of chocolate.
  11. If you feel like your credit card spending is getting out of control, freeze your credit card. Literally. Try a hands-on approach to budgeting and put your credit card in a plastic cup of water, then freeze it for a month. It’s one foolproof way to guarantee you don’t rack up credit card debt in the last few months of the year.
  12. Start working toward savings goals for the holidays in September. Some say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Well, similarly, setting aside money for gifts in September means not having to battle a monstrous credit card bill in January.
  13. Get specific about the amount of money you need to save for holiday shopping. If you’re trying to budget for gifts in a few months, calculate how much they cost you last year, and make a plan that will allow you to cover them without incurring debt.
Stay tuned for part 2 next week, where we'll give you 13 more ways to save money.

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