The fall season brings with it cooler temperatures, falling leaves, and possible changes to your financial life.
Reevaluate your budget
Our needs shift with the season change and now is a great time to go over your budget. Take a look at your bills from this time last year. Are there yearly costs, like insurance or inspections due? Do you need to reign in your spending in one category, or add more to another? You also can call your service providers for TV or cell phone plans and see if the price can be lowered.
Energy audit and furnace tune-up
Check your home for energy inefficiencies. There could be air leaks around windows or outlets, old lightbulbs, or appliances that can be upgraded or unplugged when not in use. Learn more about do-it-yourself home energy audits at energy.gov.
Check your mail for coupons and with local HVAC companies for discounts on furnace tune-ups and inspections. Many companies run specials in the fall and you won’t have to worry once winter rolls around. Plus, inspections may be required if you live in a community with an HOA.
Health insurance plans
Open enrollment for health insurance is coming up. If your employer has multiple options, evaluate your current plan. If that no longer fits your life, it may make sense to switch. If you’re self-employed, it’s never too early to start researching and comparing plans.
If you take part in a Flex Savings Plan (FSA), be sure to use the pre-tax money in your account before the end of the year, otherwise the funds will be lost. Everyday purchases at your local pharmacy may qualify, so be sure to check the list of eligible items for your account.
Money deposited into a Health Savings Account (HSA) does not need to be used by the end of the year. Be sure to check with your plan’s administrator about the rules for your HSA.
Paid time off
Schedule your remaining time off if you will lose it at the end of the year. Using your time, even if it’s not for a vacation, can reduce stress, reset your focus, and make you more productive overall. Take a day trip and miss the weekend traffic to save you time and gas. It also can be easier to run errands or do jobs around the house during the week when no one else is home.
Check life insurance, retirement accounts, and anything else that may require a beneficiary. If your relationships or family has changed, it’s time to update the person or people who are beneficiaries on your accounts.
Prep for the holidays, winter activities, and the spring semester
Do you or your kids play winter sports, go back to school for the spring semester, or tend to spend more during the holidays? Slowly start to put that money aside now so you’re not hit with a huge cost later. You can even start looking for deals now on holiday gifts. Keep a list or a spreadsheet of what you’re saving, what gifts you’ve purchased, and how much you’ve spent.
Check your emergency stash
Are you prepared for an emergency? Take advantage of sales on canned goods, bottled water, and other nonperishable items, check your flashlights and batteries, and make sure you have some cash on-hand. Be sure to also check your first-aid kit, the batteries in smoke alarms, and make sure you know where to find spare blankets and matches – just in case.