The advent of fall serves as a good reminder that you may need to correct course and keep your financial responsibilities in mind. On the first day of fall, the autumnal equinox, the lengths of day and night are roughly equal, and the daylight grows shorter from there. Use the diminishing sunlit hours to get you and your money back on course after a summer of sun and fun.
Every year at back-to-school time, there are ads for notebooks, fancy pens and backpacks. Even if you don’t have children, the fall season brings to mind stacks of blank paper, waiting for you to write your story….or re-write it! Are you financially off-track and your money goals are nowhere in sight? Start with a clean slate and get back to basics. Create fresh goals. Redo your monthly budget. Commit anew.
We turn our clocks back on November 1. Use that hour to reflect on your day, unwind and set action items for tomorrow that will keep you on the right financial path.
If you live in a cold climate, now is the time you are pulling winter gear out of storage. Purge ill-fitting or never-worn garments and gear and have a fall yard sale. You’ll clear space in your life and earn a bit of money you can put towards your saving goals.
Scrutinize your bills. Are you paying the right amount for utilities, cable or broadband, phone, and other recurring monthly expenses? Are there any hidden fees? This is a good time to get organized, adjust your data plan or cut some channels out of your satellite TV package to save a few more bucks.
Many employees benefit plans run open enrollment — the period when you can make changes or sign up for new benefits — at this time of year. Instead of ignoring those flyers or emails, open them! Make sure you are taking advantage of vision, dental, and health insurance, and contributing to your employer’s retirement plan. Look at how much you spent this year on healthcare costs and see if a healthcare savings account may benefit your family. Keep in mind that Health Insurance Marketplace open enrollment for 2016 is from November 1, 2015 through January 31, 2016.
Now is the time to purchase used summer gear like patio furniture, pool toys and bikes. When others are deciding what doesn’t get to stay in the garage for another year, you can snag a great bargain on something you’ve wanted to add to your warm-weather activities. Grab it now and look forward to using it next year.
You can’t open your eyes in September without seeing an ad for a pumpkin spice something. It can be tempting to embrace the fall flavor, but did you know that a pumpkin spice latte can be as much as $5.25? I don’t know about you, but every year I succumb to the advertising pressure and long for the tasty warm treat. It’s a good reminder to skip the coffee stop and make your latte at home and save a fiver. Or at least custom order yours, which could save you half the cost!
The countdown to Christmas is alive in social media feeds. Whatever winter holiday you celebrate, plan accordingly. They happen at the same time every year, so now’s the time to make your plan — don’t let them sneak up on you and force you into overspending on food, travel, or gifts at the last minute.
When it gets cold outside, we tend to stay in, watch movies or invite friends over. While this routine may get old by March, at least you’re not out somewhere spending money! Silver lining, right?
Kim Tracy Prince is a Los Angeles-based writer. If she didn’t have a husband and 2 young boys who love sports, she’d save money by staying in and reading all the books that she never has time for.