Cooler temperatures and shorter days mean fall is here. While people often focus on spring cleaning as a major annual milestone around the house, getting ready for winter is an important time as well! This season, you have an opportunity to take steps to save money, review your budget, and get on a path to a better financial future. Below are six budgeting tips and actionable steps you can take to help you get started.
Invest in a Smart Thermostat
If you own your own home, your energy bills may seem like a fixed cost you canâ€™t put a dent in. However, you can save around 10%-12% on your energy bill by installing a smart thermostat.
A smart thermostat costs around $200-$250 if you install it yourself. If you live in a cold or hot climate where a thermostat can lower energy use while you are away at work all day and the house is empty, you will make up that investment quickly. From that point forward, your energy savings each season keeps your hard-earned dollars in your pocket rather than going to utility bills.
Check Your Insulation
Attic insulation has a long life expectancy. However, over time it can get compacted and less effective. Insulation quality and installation techniques have also changed over timeÂ and adding insulation in your attic or crawl space may make your home more comfortable while saving you money on your energy bills and making fall budgeting a little easier.
Depending on the size of your home, adding insulation may only cost $200-$300. While that isnâ€™t a small cash outlay, the savings will start to add up quickly, and coupled with your new smart thermostat, youâ€™ll be saving big!
Donâ€™t forget to Bundle Up
Changes to your home are not the only steps you can take to save on your energy bill. If your family wears t-shirts around the house in the winter and must bundle up because of the air conditioning in the summer, you are spending way too much heating and cooling your home.
This fall budgeting tip doesnâ€™t require you to spend any money, simply use what you already have! Get out the blankets and sweatshirts this fall to save on your power bill. Lowering the temperature three degrees can save you around $10-$20 per power bill, depending on the climate and energy rates where you live.
Cook More Meals at Home
Dinner for two at a mid-level chain restaurant can easily cost about $40. If you are feeding children or treating anyone else, $100-$200 dinners are not unusual. Compare that to the cost of groceries for an entire week, and you have a very compelling reason to spend a little more time in the kitchen.
Cooking for yourself and your family can save thousands of dollars each year on your food budget. If you are bored of the same foods again and again, consider investing in a cooking class, a cookbook, or just put your Google search skills to work on one of the many high-quality recipe sites filled with free, delicious recipes online.
Take Advantage of Open Enrollment
Whether you get your health insurance through an Affordable Care Act Marketplace or your employer, open enrollment is the time of year you have an opportunity to make changes and updates to your policy that can save you a lot of money.
Looking back at the last year, did you have a lot of medical needs? What do you expect next year? If you anticipate extensive medical needs, you may want to upgrade to a plan with a higher monthly cost but lower deductibles and copays. If you think you wonâ€™t need much care and are generally healthy, a lower level â€œbronzeâ€ plan could make more financial sense.
Buy Term Life Insurance
Fall is the perfect time to optimize your budget. So, while you are reviewing your budget this fall, donâ€™t forget to think about term life insurance. Life insurance costs increase each year as you get older, but signing up for a policy locks in your rate for the entire term. Rates for a high quality, 30-year term policy can cost as much as your cup of coffee a day â€“ so get a free, no obligation life insurance quote today to see what it costs to protect your family should the unthinkable happen.