9 Frugal Skills You Must Have to Survive Autumn


The national retail federation predicted that U.S. consumers would spend $8.4 billion on Halloween this year, with consumers spending an average of $82.93 on the holiday. (How much did you spend?) And that's just one single day of a long fall season that also includes: Thanksgiving, yard maintenance, home weatherproofing, and plenty of other opportunities to spend.

Fortunately, there are ways to cut back on your spending this fall season. Here are nine ways to stretch those dollars as the days get shorter and the winter holidays creep closer.

1. Get Out That Rake

You can buy leaf blowers for as little as $50 or as much as $300 or more if you want a super deluxe model. That doesn't even count the gas that you'll go through with a gas-powered blower. A rake will cost you about $15. Don't forget, either, that raking leaves is a lot quieter — your neighbors will appreciate that. It also helps you burn a few calories.

2. Cancel Your Gym Membership

Fall is a great time to cancel that gym membership. We're not advocating that you skip exercising, though. Instead, we're recommending that you get your exercise by biking, hiking, running or, yes, raking leaves. Fall weather is cool but generally not freezing. So cancel that gym membership until winter rolls around. You can renew once the icicles show up.

3. Weatherproof Your Home

Sure, you'll spend a bit of money upfront for weather-stripping to weatherproof your home's windows and doors. You might also have to shell out some money to spray extra installation in your attic and seal up any leaks in your walls. But spending this money now will save you during the coldest months of the upcoming winter season. Weatherproofing your home now will result in lower energy bills in December and January. (See also: 9 Ways to Reduce Your Heating Bill)

4. Buy the Right Food and Cook at Home

You know that eating out is a huge drain on your wallet. You can save money by cooking at home. Autumn is actually a good season for this. You can whip up hearty soups, stews, and casseroles and stretch the leftovers over several days. Just make sure to buy plenty of those foods that are in season and most affordable this time of year: root vegetables, squash, and plenty of apples.

5. Resist the Call of the Pumpkin

It's important to exercise some self-control when it comes to the staple of the fall months: the pumpkin. You might have noticed that retailers aren't shy about shoving pumpkin-spiced products down your throat this time of year. It's okay to indulge a bit, of course, but be careful. It's easy to blow plenty of money on pumpkin-flavored coffees, pastries, and candies. Some of these seasonal treats might even come with higher price tags than their non-gourd cousins.

6. Call the Cable Company — And All Your Other Service Providers

This tip is viable all year, but you know you're going to be watching more TV once the weather chills. Why not pay less for it? Call your cable provider today and request a lower monthly payment. There's no guarantee that your provider will drop your monthly bill, but many will, especially if they think that you'll switch to a competitor. You can try this with everyone from your cable provider to your auto insurance company. Take a day to call your providers. You might be surprised at how many are willing to lower their monthly premium.

7. Start Holiday Shopping Early

Getting a head start on your holiday season doesn't seem like a great way to spend money, but by shopping early, you'll have more time to carefully plan out what you want to buy for your friends, family members, and co-workers. If you plan, the odds are better that you'll actually spend less. You might even have time to find clothes, toys, and electronics that are priced less because the winter holidays are still far enough away. Just make sure that you hit the stores with an actual list in hand. This will help protect you from those impulse buys that can shatter your budget.

8. Start an Emergency Fund

Financial experts recommend that you have an emergency savings fund with enough money to cover at least six months of your daily living expenses. Such a fund can protect you from an unexpected financial emergency — everything from losing your job to finding a burst water heater in your basement. Fall is a good time to start this fund. The expensive summer vacation season is over and the winter holidays are still far enough away. It's a bit easier to set aside $100 to $500 a month during the fall to build that emergency fund.

9. Get a Start on Your New Year's Resolution

Who says you have to wait until January 1 to start your New Year's resolution? If your resolution this year will involve saving money and spending less, get started today. Vow to spend only what you can afford during the holiday season, no matter how much pressure you feel to overspend.

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Jeff | VTX Capital

These are all excellent tips and many that I'm checking off my list as we speak. Ultimately cutting cable and streaming is the best option for us and it's helping us save a pretty hefty sum of money all year round.