5 Ways to Save Money During the Fall
Fall is here! Sorry PSL fans, Pumpkin Spice isn't the best thing to look forward to in Fall IMO. This is my favorite season because the colors are changing to impressively vibrant colors, the temperatures allow for more pleasant bike rides, farmers' markets have loads of ripe fruit from summer AND fall produce like pumpkins and persimmons. What's not to love? Plus, we get Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas over these next short but fun three months! The sentiment here is meant to channel your creativity to save during each season, but making you read four chapters on saving money during various seasons would be overkill. Fall is also a great time to take a look at where your money was spent in the summer and also reflect on what your goals might be for the coming year. I’m going to take this time to give you some ideas on conscious spending on popular items for fall.
1) Partywares: As the season goes from backyard BBQs to indoor potlucks and parties, not everything will be finger food (no judgment here!). It’s best to go with real dishes and silverware to avoid wasting money and disposables. However, I understand throwing a party can be exhausting. When shopping at Whole Foods, Sprouts, or your usual store, look at the bottom of the package for 100% post-consumer recycled content, compostable, or some sign that it is eco-friendly. Or to go cheap, try the dollar store, or see if friends, neighbors, or community groups who’ve recently had an event have any leftovers. When festivals were a regular occurrence (ah pre-pandemic life) I usually was given many packages of leftover plates, cups, napkins, etc which came to good use at park picnics and holiday parties. Make it fun by creating nicknames for your party guests and writing on cups and even plates to avoid waste. Feeling festive? Check out this cool site: Eco Party Time.
2) Halloween Costumes and Candy: I’m not one to contest tradition, I love creative costumes and Halloween! (I used to trade all my candy for peanut butter cups because that’s all I wanted.) However, buying heaps of individually wrapped candies is wasteful and not original. Remember that garbage bag dress and duct tape couple at the homecoming games? Put your imagination to work for the costumes, you'd be surprised at what you can do. One time I made a shirt that had the logo of a credit card company that had a major data breach in 2017 (not naming names here) and taped "passwords" to my shirt to give them away like the company did when all their customer info was hacked! For candy, maybe throw in some oranges, pencils, rulers, school supplies, or even put some finger food on a platter and hand it out to avoid packaging and wrappers all in front of your place (remember spider cracker and pretzel treats?). You can also give out branded zero-waste items like straws or produce bags, many local businesses like realtors and accountants will gladly subsidize the cost of your giveaways if they can advertise on them, and you get the young ones started early on an eco-friendly lifestyle. Heck, even throw in some floss to balance out the evil. Sure, your house might get TP-ed, but maybe you can roll it back up and use it for your supply! (Kidding, I'm not that frugal or unsanitary!)
3) Start Shopping for Summer Clothing: Board shorts and flip flops are on clearance. Take advantage! You can even lookup a product online, and since many clothing stores price-match, you’ll get an even better deal (unless they have a clear-ance-price only type policy). In this fast-fashion world, we live in, it pays to invest in quality staple items that you'll use, like sandals, sunglasses, and swimwear. Brands like PrAna and Patagonia are more expensive for good reason, and they stand behind their products (Nordstrom and REI are also excellent with customer service when it comes to making sure only quality items are sold in their stores.) The point being is that lots of summer inventory needs to move to make room for what's hot in winter fashion, and with everyone fantasizing about which scarf their want to wear when they buy their PSL during an 85-degree week, there will be more discounted summer clothing for you. Also, keep an eye out for yard-care items like hose racks, sporting equipment, and other summer items (keeping that minimalism mindset for what you truly need and will use). There are cool websites that suggest when to buy what. I haven’t validated everything, but feel free to check out this list from LifeHacker: http://lifehacker.com/5973864/the-best-time-to-buy-anything-during-the-year.
4) Plan or Go on a Vacation: After asking dozens of hotel concierge professionals, I’ve learned that during the fall, travel slows down. Whether kids are back in school for families or convention/conference season is winding down, you can use this chance to capitalize on the low demand! Do some research on which destinations are offering the most price cuts and you might find yourself enjoying a platinum-level vacation for college-student prices. In addition, I've found many coveted campsites have more availability, and also "peak season" prices for campgrounds and hotels are over. Shoulder season, as some travel pros call it, is also an excellent time to visit some places for the changing colors, lesser crowds, and the ability to enjoy parks, downtowns, and museums without feeling rushed or having to bear brutal lines under the relentless sun.
5) Garbage Bags: Made you look! I know, it's an odd one, but garbage bags are just another one of those things where you're literally throwing money away. You pay for the bags, and the bags go in the trash! If you’re lucky enough to have a yard, you’re also lucky to get to rake all those leaves. Or to clean up the candy wrappers and toilet paper after you get TP-ed for Halloween. The best thing to do is to dump leaves into your green waste bin if your city provides one, or at least put it into a compostable trash bag you can usually find at Target. Better yet, a reusable, machine washable trash bag such as Eco Trash Bags (think of all the $$$ you’ll save). If you don't want to spend money on bags at all, try just using your broom and dustpan, and tossing things right into the dumpster. Or designate a cloth grocery bag as a "trash pickup" bag for the yard or garage. Oh, and don’t even think about buying a polluting leaf-blower. Raking is good exercise and it doesn't require fuel or $$$.