Deal Finder: Money-Saving Tips for Fall


By LaTina Emerson, The Shopper Deal Finder

The fall season has arrived, and it’s a great time to reevaluate your spending and find some ways to save money. Making small adjustments to your energy consumption, grocery shopping and even holiday shopping plans can keep lots of money in your wallet.

Try these tips to save money this fall:

Open the windows: As the temperatures get cooler outside, open your windows to let in fresh air. This is cheaper than using fans or air conditioning.

Schedule maintenance for heating systems: When fall begins, schedule maintenance services for your water heater and other heating systems. Make sure this equipment is operating properly and efficiently before cold weather arrives and repair services are busy with other customers.

Weatherize your home: Get your home ready for winter by looking for leaks around windows and doors. Use caulk to seal gaps and cracks where air and water can seep in. Also, cover windows with plastic to avoid cold drafts.

Change your filters: Change the filters in your heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems during the fall. Dirty and clogged filters will raise utility bills and damage your HVAC system.

Lower water heater temperature: Though many manufacturers set water heater thermostats at 140 degrees Fahrenheit, the U.S. Department of Energy recommends turning down the temperature of your water heater to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Lowering the temperature will use less energy, reduce the dangers of scalding and also slow mineral buildup and corrosion in your water heater and pipes.

Plan your meals: Get organized and plan your meals ahead of time for the week to avoid eating out. Write down a menu and make sure you have all the necessary ingredients. Use your crock pot to make big, warm meals, such as stew and chili, and freeze the leftovers for later.

Buy food in season: Buying fruits and vegetables that are in season will help you save money on your grocery bill. During the fall, shop for apples, pears, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, grapes, mushrooms, figs, cauliflower, brussel sprouts and winter squash.

Trade costumes: Instead of buying expensive Halloween costumes for your children, cut costs by exchanging costumes with your neighbors or family members.

Save for holiday gifts: Fall is the perfect time to start setting money aside for holiday gifts. Determine how much you need to save by making a list of the people that you’d like to shop for and how much you want to spend on each gift. Then, figure out the dollar amount you can put aside each week, which could be achieved by cutting back in other areas, to meet your goal. This will help you avoid getting into credit card debt.

Shop early: Don’t wait until the peak shopping season to start buying holiday gifts. Begin shopping now so you can take your time to find the best deals and gifts for your loved ones. Getting a head start on your holiday shopping will prevent you from being rushed, spending more than you budgeted and having fewer options to choose from because items are sold out.

Make rules for gift exchanges: Instead of trying to buy gifts for all of your family members, friends and coworkers, which can get very expensive, talk with your loved ones about setting limits for your gift exchanges. For a particular group, perhaps you could draw names so that each person is only expected to buy a gift for one family member, friend or coworker, instead of everyone. This will reduce your holiday spending tremendously.

Take advantage of layaway: If you’ve found items that you’d like to purchase for holiday gifts but don’t have the cash right now, consider taking advantage of layaway programs offered by some retailers, such as Walmart. Layaway allows shoppers to set aside merchandise in the store until they can pay off the balance and take it home. Customers make a down payment and scheduled payments until the bill is paid in full. All items are not eligible for layaway.

Have potluck holiday meals: For fall or holiday gatherings, plan a menu and ask guests to bring a certain dish or beverage. Potluck holiday meals help keep costs low for hosts and prevent them from having to buy all of the food, desserts and beverages themselves.