A mother and her two children are loading pumpkins into the trunk of her vehicle.

As summer turns to fall, the weather may be cooling down, but your spending might be warming up. American families with school-aged kids plan to spend $864 on back-to-school supplies this year, up $15 from last year. Compared to 2019, shoppers are expected to dole out $168 more on average, for a whopping $37 billion in total spending. But school shopping is just the beginning. It’s also the season to pencil in some fun fall activities as a family. And 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:

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:

Now you know you will need to save $4,350 to meet your fall savings goals. This can make it easier to implement your 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). 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 currently have $300 to save each month. 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 yourself 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. 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 student loans, consider strategies for reducing your debt. Paying off student loans, credit cards, a mortgage or any other type of debt is not one size fits all. Experiment with different debt management styles, including the snowball method, to find the strategy that works best for you.

Stash away windfalls.

If you recently got a signing bonus, a raise, or even a cash gift, any unexpected influx of cash is a great opportunity to supercharge your savings. Use windfalls to top off your fall savings buckets, a feature of Ally Bank’s Online Savings Account.

Upgrade your savings account.

When choosing accounts, consider an online alternative like Ally Bank’s Online Savings Account, which offers a competitive Annual Percentage Yield (APY) with no monthly maintenance fees.

Start selling.

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.

The fall season is a great time to earn extra money with an online gig or picking up work raking leaves, cleaning gutters or selling homemade baked goods. (The more pumpkin spice, the better.)

Get your coupon game on.

Whether you’re planning a back-to-school shopping trip, a fall getaway or holiday shopping for everyone on your list, 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 could help you pursue your goals. 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.

 

* Buckets are a feature of Ally Bank’s Online Savings Account