When the leaves start changing colors and pumpkin spice is everywhere, you know fall is here.
As temperatures drop and sweater weather gets into full swing, you know the holidays aren't too far behind. Before you start panicking about how you'll afford everything on your loved ones wish lists, consider these five ways to have a frugal fall.
1. Watch for Fall Sales
Although back-to-school and Black Friday sales get most of the attention, there are other great times to shop during the fall. To avoid that December 23rd panic shop, it's a good idea to start thinking about holiday shopping early. With fall sales, you can get a head start on crossing names off your gift list. Lisa Koivu recommends shopping the week before and after Halloween to snag some deals. You may also want to pay attention to sales on Veterans Day, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday.
2. Cook With Seasonal Produce
If you want to save for the holidays, cut the number of meals eaten out and cook at home. Fall is the perfect time to cook with seasonal produce (which tends to be more affordable) such as acorn squash or mushrooms. Check out a list of seasonal vegetables and fruits that you can find during autumn, and get creative! To save even more money, search for free recipes online and look for ones that require ingredients already in your fridge. You could try getting started with these delicious squash bowls!
3. Max Out Your Flexible Spending Accounts
If you have flexible spending accounts, fall is the perfect time to start maxing them out. It's better to start doing this early because the holidays can get busy and make it difficult to remember. There are several types of flexible spending accounts (FSAs), such as health care or dependent care FSAs. These accounts allow you to put aside a certain amount of money to cover costs like copayments or prescription medications. However, you must use the money before the end of the year or you lose it, so fall is a great time to take advantage of FSAs.
4. Make Your Home Ready for Winter
Don't wait until the temperature falls below zero to start caulking drafty windows, start getting your home ready for the winter now. Check your insulation, doors, and windows, so that you can seal cracks and drafts. Give your furnace a tune-up by starting with an inspection and a clean. Another important task autumn task is to reverse ceiling fans, so they run clockwise and push the heated air down.
5. Clean Out the Closets
Consider cleaning out your closets in the fall. It's good preparation for rotating in your winter wardrobe, and it will give you a chance to see what you have, and what you still might need. You'll likely discover some clothes that you can donate, trade, or sell. Look for local clothing swaps or put items up for sale on eBay to make a little extra cash.
When you think of fall, you may start dreaming about caramel apples and leftover Halloween candy, but it's also the perfect season to start living frugally before holiday spending starts.