Saving money is a year-round exercise for us and takes on special importance in the fall. Spending less and building up a savings fund helps with our holiday budgeting and our overall savings goals. This year, we’re also trying to prepare ourselves for the uncertainty of the current economy. Saving money doesn’t have to be difficult, though. These five tips are relatively simple to put into action.
1. Start a Holiday Fund Now and Shop Early
Yes, if you're already stretched thin financially, having a holiday budget sounds like an unattainable dream. If you start now, however, you can have something, even if it's a small amount. Do what you can to set aside money for the holidays now and shop early to eliminate the desperation that comes with trying to find gifts at the last minute, when you might not be able to focus on saving money.
2. Eat Seasonally
Eating seasonally, or those fruits and vegetables (along with other foods) that are in season, is inherently cheaper than eating fruits and vegetables that have been imported out of season. The lower transportation costs and relative abundance of in-season fruits and vegetables result in lower costs to you, the consumer. This is the case at any time of the year, but especially in fall when plenty of apple, orange, and squash varieties hit the market. Early fall is also the season for grapes, so keep an eye on those prices if they are normally too expensive for you.
3. Learn to Make Copycat Recipes
No, you don't have to stop buying coffee while you invest that cost in a retirement account. However, cooking a meal as opposed to eating out remains one of the fastest ways to save money, so learning how to make copycat recipes is a great way to save. You can do this for everything from drinks to your favorite restaurant dishes.
4. Make It a Goal to Grow Your Savings Account
If your money is earmarked for savings, it's not going to be spent as long as you can control your spending habits. If you don't know how much to start with, or if you find basic saving boring, look at savings games that have you sock away a certain amount based on a random factor.
5. Focus on Staying Healthy
Pandemic or not, fall ushers in the sick season for many people. Your best bet for staying on track with your goal of saving money is to stay healthy. Not only will you be able to move toward your goals, but you won't end up spending money on doctors' appointments. Eat well and sleep well, and use hand sanitizers when there's no soap and sink in sight. Washing your hands with soap and water is best, but hand sanitizer is a great alternative when you’re out and about.
If you manage to start a holiday budget early enough, you can be strategic and shop sales throughout the holiday season to stretch your dollar even further. We tend to freeze more food and can our summer veggies in the fall, too. What about you? Is there a coupon service that always has the best deals? How early is too early to listen for hints from your family for gift ideas? We heard rounding up your purchases and putting that money into savings is an easy way to save a little. What do you think? Let us know in the comments and happy savings!