For most people, one of the most challenging aspects of personal finance is learning how to spend less money. And it’s especially difficult once fall rolls around, and it’s socially acceptable for most of us to start spending more.
Think about it: Everywhere you look, there’s an ad for pumpkin spice lattes. And your kids may be begging you to take them to the pumpkin patch or buy them an expensive Halloween costume. Also, most of us are starting to think about buying Christmas gifts.
But fall doesn’t mean your financial goals have to go out the window. So if you’ve noticed you’ve been spending more than usual, here are eight ways to cut expenses this fall.
1. Avoid eating out
One of the easiest ways to cut your expenses is to stop eating out. If you eat out twice a week for $ 25 each time, which is easy for a family of four to do, you’re spending an average of $ 200 a month just eating out!
If you find yourself eating out frequently, take some time to find out why. Is it due to lack of planning? If so, take some time to plan a meal schedule for the week. Your meals will be much healthier and you will save money.
And resist the urge to stop by Starbucks for a pumpkin spice latte. It feels like a fun gift, but you’ll pay over $ 5 per drink. Millennials spend a $ 2,008 average in coffee annually – think about what else you could be doing with that money.
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2. Look for free mood boosters
Seasonal affective disorder is a real problem and some people feel unhappy or depressed once the seasons change. When you’re not feeling your best, it’s natural to look for ways to spend money to make up for it.
But this is always a losing plan – spending money is never a long-term solution, and you’ll feel even worse when you’re not meeting your financial goals. Instead, look for free ways to improve your mood.
For example, listening to a podcast and taking a walk is completely free and will probably improve your mood much more than you could ever spend money. You can check out my blog post on Inexpensive Self-Care Tips for more ideas.
How to improve your self-care without breaking the bank
3. Implement a “no-cost” weekend
Another way to reduce your expenses is by regularly implementing a “no-expense” weekend. This is exactly what it sounds like: a weekend where you don’t spend any money.
Instead of going out to eat or to the movies, you can cook your meals at home and watch something on Netflix. Be sure to check this blog post for more ideas on what to do on weekends free of charge.
4. Establish a vacation sinking fund
Many unexpected costs come up throughout the year, but vacations are not one of them. You know that you will spend a certain amount of money buying gifts and hosting your family for the holidays each year.
The best way to handle this is by establishing a vacation sinking fund. With a sinking fund, you start saving money now to pay for future expenses. That way, you won’t have to go into debt to cover your vacation expenses.
And look for ways to reduce your vacation expenses. For example, if you have a large extended family, maybe everyone can draw names on who to buy gifts from. That way, instead of buying gifts for 10 different people, you only have to buy for one person.
Sinking funds: what are they and how to use them
5. Limit your electricity
Electricity represents an important part of your home budget and is a necessary expense. But there are ways you can limit your use and lower your utility bills over time. And the easiest way to do it is to be more aware of its use.
For example, do not start the dishwasher unless there is a full load. Don’t leave the lights on in your home all day or leave your computer on. Lower the thermostat at night or turn it off completely in nice weather.
Plus, you can start switching to energy efficient light bulbs and a smart thermostat. Your electricity supplier can even provide a smart thermostat for free or with a refund. The point is, even small shifts can go a long way toward reducing your bills.
6. Re-evaluate your subscriptions
Many companies offer low-cost subscriptions, and because they’re affordable, it’s easy to keep paying for them long after you’ve stopped using the service. Take some time to search your bank account for the subscriptions you have forgotten.
If you haven’t used the service for a month or more, it’s time to cut it. And that includes gym memberships. There are tons of affordable home workout programs you can do, so why keep paying for an expensive gym membership that you’re not using?
7. Go to thrift stores
If you live in a part of the country where the seasons change, you can use fall as a reason to go shopping. After all, October can be a great time of year to stock up on hoodies, sweaters, and boots. And the truth is, we all need new clothes from time to time.
This year, instead of going to department stores, why not explore different second-hand stores? You can find really nice second-hand clothes and it will cost you a lot less than what you would pay to buy those new items.
8. Implement a 24 hour rule
And finally, if you are someone who struggles with impulse purchases, create a 24 hour rule for all purchases. When you see something you want to buy, you take at least 24 hours to think about it and decide if the expense is really necessary or not.
You can implement a 24-hour rule on all purchases or only on expenses over $ 50. It is up to you how you go about it, but the point is to give yourself time to think things over before you buy something. And if it’s a necessary purchase, you can use that time to shop around and see if you can find a better price elsewhere.
The bottom line
Fall can be an expensive time of year, and if you’re not careful, your expenses can start to add up without you even realizing it. This fall, start looking for ways to intentionally cut costs and be mindful of your spending patterns.
Have you tried any of the ideas outlined in this blog post? Let me know in the comments!