Fall is in the air. The leaves are starting to turn colors, the aisles in the grocery store are filled with Halloween candy and costumes, and the other day I had to turn the heat on in my car.
The changing of the seasons signals that soon the Holidays will be here, and since the economy isn’t doing much better, I thought I would bring you some general money saving tips for the weeks leading up to the Yuletide and New Year. I’m sure we could all use it.
Now is the Time to Shop!
I know it seems counter intuitive – how are you supposed to save money by spending money? But the truth is that the changing of the seasons is a great time to save money on all kinds of things. The stores are full of sales trying to get rid of last season’s inventory to make room for new winter items.
One place in particular you can save big money right now is on outdoor items. Do you need new patio furniture, new pool floats, new sprinklers? Did you want new flowers, trees, or plantings of any kind? What about a new deck or patio? All of these things are on sale right now, for prices you’ll never find next spring when you remember how much you really want them.
But if you can’t wrap your head around spending money on items for next summer, another category to look at is sporting equipment. Golf clubs, wake boards, boating equipment, even last year’s snowboarding equipment – unless you live in a state that has warm weather year round, these things all make great Christmas or birthday presents and now would be the time to get them.
Hit the Farmers’ Markets
In general when it comes to food and produce, we’d all prefer to buy local and potentially organically grown food, but it’s often much cheaper just to head over to the grocery store and buy what they have there. But that might not be the case right now.
The farmers’ markets are getting ready to shut their doors for the season, and what good does it do them to have extra produce lying around? Many farmers’ markets will be having sales in the next couple weeks just to empty out their stores, and you get to benefit with good prices for good produce. Just think about all the fresh vegetables you could grill before you have to put your Weber away for the winter…
Switch Your Cell Phone Service
Whether or not you were considering making changes to your cell phone plan or even switching providers completely, Fall is the time to do it.
With more people cutting their home land line phone service and going completely over to cell phones (which is another money saving tip, by the way), the competition between service providers is heating up. And the months leading up to Christmas basically ends up being a race to the bottom for most cell phone companies.
If you have the ability to switch providers, than the world is your oyster. You can get outrageous deals with most companies being a “new” customer at this time. If you can’t switch providers, then talk to someone about switching plans. There are so many incentives to upgrade plans right now that you might just end up paying less money for more service.
Consider Cutting Your Cable
Yikes. Calm down. I can hear the outrage already. I know that winter is just around the corner and that means a lot of on the couch movie nights for most people, myself included.
Most people have had cable since not having cable meant five free channels. Those days are long gone folks. Now, if you go back to “free” TV, you’re actually looking at receiving somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 free channels. This is because NBC, ABC, Fox, CBS, and all those other free network guys have expanded their offerings over the last couple years. There are even free movie channels available, although you’ll find more Clint Eastwood a la Dirty Harry than Clint Eastwood Million Dollar Baby.
But say you just can’t stomach getting rid of cable. Fine. Look into bundling it with your phone and internet for a discount. Almost all companies are doing that these days.
And if you’re already bundling, then consider canceling your movie channels. Now that Netflix has live streaming and pretty much every laptop made in the last year or more has an HDMI cable hookup, most people can plug their laptop right into their TV and stream the latest movies for just $9.99/month.
Switch Your Debit Card
Almost everyone has a bank debit card these days, and if you have one that isn’t earning something for you, then you are simply wasting time and energy.
A couple years ago I lost my debit card, and when I went into the bank to replace it, I was convinced to get a “Rewards” card. Every time I used my card I would be given points to redeem for something else. In the beginning I would check my points religiously, but it didn’t seem like I was getting anything worthwhile for my trouble.
However, over the course of the last two years I have used my debit card the exact same way I always would have and just realized that my reward points today are worth a ton of cool items. I am considering using some of them to get my mother a wine refrigerator for Christmas. For free.
And most banks have programs that aren’t just point based. Frequent flier miles, cash back, you name an incentive and a bank out there probably has it. So do yourself a favor and get rewarded for doing nothing.