After the summer vacations, neighborhood block parties, and back-to-school shopping, many of us enter the fall season with lighter wallets and longer credit card statements. Before the holidays pick back up in winter, fall is the perfect season to cut down on costs and save money. By saving now, you can start the new year feeling financially healthy.
Here are seven ideas you can implement now to cut expenses and save money.
1. Prep Your Home for the Cold Weather
When's the last time you checked your home for cracks and holes? Up to 30% of air that moves through a home's duct system is lost due to leaks. The more air you lose, the longer you have to keep the air conditioner or heater running--and the more expensive your electricity bill will be. Spend a weekend sealing up holes or cracks around doorways, window frames, and other areas exposed to the elements to keep your air where it belongs.
2. Hold Off on Using the A/C or Heater
The fall months are a great time to give your air conditioner a rest before turning on the heater. Keeping these systems off for just one month a year can help you save big on your electricity and gas bills: it can cost more than $2 per hour just to keep your air conditioner running. If it's still warm in your area, a fan will keep you cool without using as much energy. When it starts to cool down, bundle up with a blanket or put on a sweater instead of turning on the heater.
3. Service Your Heater
Your heater has likely gathered dust after several months of inactivity. Before using it for the first time this season, have a licensed technician service it. During a tune-up, a professional will typically examine the condition of the equipment, clean the parts, check the thermostat calibration and monitor the heating cycle to keep your heater running safely and efficiently. Getting an annual inspection can help you save money on your utility bill and avoid breakdowns and expensive emergency fixes.
4. Reevaluate Your Internet, Phone, and Cable Bills
Many businesses offer back-to-school discounts or early holiday promotions in the fall, making it a great time to reduce your internet, phone, and cable bills. Some phone service providers roll out incentives to switch to them, like offering discounted phones or lowering monthly bills. If your cable bill is high, consider cutting the cord and using less expensive streaming services. To reduce your internet bill, make sure you're not paying for more speed than you need. An internet speed tool will help you determine how much speed you actually need so you can lower your internet speed-and your bill-if necessary.
5. Cook at Home More Often
On average, Americans spend $232 per month eating out and, for the first time in recorded history, spend more money in restaurants than on groceries. You can save money--and stay healthy--by cooking at home more often. Plan your meals for the week so you have the right ingredients and avoid unnecessary trips to the grocery store, where you're likely to spend money on items you don't actually need. Fall is the perfect time to bring out the slow cooker, too, simplifying the cooking process even more. Make big pots of stew and other meals that freeze well and make for good leftovers.
6. Put Your Gym Membership on Hold Until January
The last few months of the year are usually the busiest, thanks to end-of-year holidays. Be honest with yourself about how often you can realistically hit the gym this season, and consider pausing your gym membership until the new year, or canceling it entirely. There are plenty of ways you can exercise for free, including riding your bike, hiking, following YouTube exercise videos, and trying at-home weight and cardio workouts.
7. Unsubscribe from Marketing Emails
With fall and winter holidays come promotional emails from businesses encouraging you to spend more. These deep discounts can be tempting, and you may end up purchasing items you don't really need. Go through your email inbox and unsubscribe from marketing emails. When you need to order something online, check a coupon site, like RetailMeNot, for a promotional offer instead.
Take on one or all of these fall saving hacks today, and your bank account will thank you. Once the holidays and new year come around, you'll feel more financially comfortable and ready to take on a new season.