Guest Post: 3 Ways to Start Saving Money This Fall

Today I’d like to share a guest post with some great tips about money saving habits for the season:

3 Ways to Start Saving Money This Fall

During certain periods of each year, spending levels seem to rise, giving pause to those concerned about their financial status. Fall, or back to school season, is one such time. Not only do the months leading-in to winter present school spending demands, but accounting for money spent during the summer may add to the pressure experienced by household money managers. What’s more, with winter weather looming, the added cost of heating bills and cold-weather transportation is right around the corner.

If you are like many others, challenged to keep cash flow steady during the fall season, frugal lifestyle choices may be enough to keep your finances moving in the right direction.

Make a Meal Plan

The cost of daily sustenance repeats, over and over, yielding countless opportunities to make sensible food spending choices. Unfortunately, poorly planned meals are a significant source of ill-advised discretionary spending. When money grows tight, mapping a menu can yield surprising savings. Consider the cost of a restaurant meal, for example, compared to similar fare prepared at home. In most cases, a reasonably proficient home cook can reproduce restaurant meals for a fraction of the cost of dining out. Granted, the convenience and accessibility of dining out has value, and it’s entertaining, but when costs need cutting, hospitality is among the first areas to pare.

Weekly menu planning keeps you out of expensive restaurants, but it also helps save money at the grocery store. Creating and following a shopping list cuts-down impulse buys, and you’ll waste less food, buying only the items you need for the week’s meal plan. A well-executed menu also accounts for leftovers, so food carried-over does not go to waste.

Embrace Quality

Price and value are often seen as similar notions, but the concepts are actually not the same. Although the price of an item may be lower than another version of the same thing, quality and durability are not always comparable. Rather than fall prey to discount pricing (and lower quality), maintain spending discipline and steer resources toward quality items. In the long run, investing in a lasting purchase saves money, when stacked-up against repeated purchases of inferior versions of the same item.

Services can be similarly deceiving, falling across various levels of quality and craftsmanship. Does a provider use the best available materials? Are preparation and cleanup included with the contracted services? Are references and proof of insurance available? In most cases, paying a premium for a reputable service provider will ultimately cost less than hiring the lowest bidder. By applying the same philosophy to other types of spending, embracing high quality can lower overall household spending.

Weatherize Your Home

The fall season drops hints about what’s in-store for those living in cold climates. Not only do temperature drops signal lifestyle changes, but the winter heating season also brings high utility bills. Winterizing, or weatherproofing, your home is a good way to save money throughout the winter months.

Basic weatherization strives to stop the flow of cold air into your home, at the same time reducing the amount of heated air allowed to escape. Home energy auditors provide comprehensive analysis, using infrared technology to point out breaches where cold air infiltrates the conditioned space. Although useful, an audit costs money, so a do-it-yourselfer may choose to visually inspect for integrity in a home’s thermal barrier. Areas around openings, like windows and doors, are most prone to voids, where air can escape or rush in. Large gaps can be sealed with expanding foam, while smaller breaches are easily stopped-up with latex caulk. Even if you hire a handyman or woman to do the work, you’ll quickly cover the cost and start reaping rewards – in the form of lower utility bills.

When cash flow cycles strain the family budget – such as the pinch seen during the back to school season, common sense measures can make a difference. Increased energy efficiency, for instance, leads to repeat savings, on increasingly costly fuels. And efficient use of food budgets further stretches income, leaning on home cooking to save money on meals. When financial demands set-in this fall, use these and other cost conscious lifestyle choices to trim spending and stay on course.

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