As summer turns to fall, the weather may be cooling down but spending may be warming up. Back to school season is looking a little different this year and costing families a little more (almost $1,000 on average). And that’s only the beginning. ‘Tis the season to pencil in some fun fall activities as a family. You may even be thinking about getting a head start on prepping for the holidays.
So, how do you pay for it all without breaking your budget?
Create a fall savings plan to keep you and your fall festivities on track all season long.
Start With a Fall Savings Bucket List
As you get your fall savings plan underway, start by thinking about what goals you want to save for. Those might include:
- Back to school shopping
- A fall trip or a family staycation
- Holiday shopping and travel
- Home improvements or repairs to get your home winter-ready
Once you’ve made your fall bucket list of savings goals, decide how much you want to save toward each one.
For example, your goals might look like this:
- $1,000 for back-to-school shopping
- $1,500 for a fall trip
- $1,000 for holiday shopping (that’s the average Americans spent in 2020)
- $850 for home repairs/improvements
Now you know that altogether, you need to save $4,350 to meet your fall savings goals. This can make it easier to implement your fall savings plan.
Leave Unnecessary Costs Behind
Once you have a total savings number to work toward and you’ve divided your fall savings goals into buckets, it’s time to dive into those frugal opportunities. If you’re budgeting regularly, pull out your latest spreadsheet (if not, grab your receipts and a calculator) and look at what you have left to save after all your bills and expenses are paid. This is the base amount you can add to your fall savings goals. So, say you have $300 to save each month currently. If you’re saving from September through December, that would give you $1,200 of your $4,350 goal. That leaves you with a $3,150 savings gap.
Finding more money to save in the fall could be as simple as reviewing your budget for expenses you could trim down or cut out. You may be able to drop subscription services you don’t use, start making more meals at home or ditch your gym membership and work out at home or the great outdoors instead. No expense is too small if it means adding a few extra dollars to savings.
Get Creative for a Frugal Fall
If you’ve slimmed down your budget and still need to carve out more savings, start thinking beyond the usual suspects.
Cut costs at home.
Home energy costs are a great place to start saving. Take a close look at your utility bills to spot opportunities to shave expenses. You could try installing a programmable thermostat to keep energy costs down. Also make sure to regularly service your HVAC system to keep it running efficiently and prevent expensive maintenance. You may also elect to turn off the HVAC and open up windows instead.
Make debt less expensive.
If you have a mortgage or other debts, consider how you could make paying them off cheaper. Refinancing a home loan, for example, could make sense if rates are still near historic lows.
Stash away windfalls.
Getting a monthly check for the Advance Child Tax Credit? What about stimulus checks, rebates or refunds? Any and all of those could be used to top off your fall savings buckets, a feature of Ally Bank’s Online Savings Account.
Upgrade your savings account.
Setting up a dedicated account for each of your fall savings goals can help you keep track of your progress. When choosing accounts, consider an online alternative like Ally Bank’s Savings Account, which offers a competitive Annual Percentage Yield (APY) with no monthly fees.
If you’ve got extra stuff around the house you don’t need, you could turn it into cash for fall savings. Electronics, old cellphones, books, appliances and clothes are just a few things you could sell for cash.
Pick up a fall side hustle.
Get your coupon game on.
Whether you’re planning a back-to-school shopping trip, a fall getaway or holiday shopping, take time to compare prices and seek out discounts. This is easy to do using price comparison apps. And while you’re shopping, consider using cash back apps to earn back some of what you spend, then funnel that into fall savings.
Invest some of your savings.
Investing can help your money grow faster if you’re earning solid returns. If you don’t have an investment account yet, you can get started with Ally Invest today. You can choose from DIY or robo portfolios if you prefer to invest with professional guidance.
Get Started on Your Fall Savings Goals Today
Fall is a great time to set some new savings goals and evaluate ones you’ve already been working on. As you prepare for back-to-school shopping, fall travel or the holidays, a solid savings plan could help you keep your family’s financial goals top of mind and moving forward all year round.
Start mapping your family’s savings plan today with the Ally Bank savings calculator.