Fall means dreams of pumpkin spice lattes, turkey dinners and a cozy holiday season just around the corner. Here are four ways to make sure you’re financially well-equipped for the last stretch of the year.
1. Winterize your home: Save energy, save cash
As temperatures drop, home heating bills rise. But properly sealing and insulating a house can save an average of about 11% a year on energy costs, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
Keep your expenses to a minimum by sealing gaps and cracks in windows and doors with weatherstripping or caulk. Clean and inspect your furnace to ensure it’s running as efficiently as possible. Also consider increasing your insulation. Though your wallet will take a hit for the season, you’ll probably get more than your money’s worth in a few years.
2. Start your holiday gift hunt
We all know that the sale to beat all sales — Black Friday — comes on the heels of Thanksgiving. But don’t forget about the little guys: Columbus Day and Veterans Day usually mean smaller but still significant discounts. As the year winds toward its close, expect sales on appliances, cookware, clothing and electronics. Beat the winter rush and get started on your holiday shopping.
3. Traveling in December? Book your trip now
If you’re flying for the holidays, now is the time to book if you haven’t already. Follow your favorite airlines on Twitter or Facebook, or sign up for their email announcements for deals. This is also a great time to cash in your travel credit card miles, especially if your earned perks are due to expire at the end of the year.
4. Check your flexible spending account balance
If you’ve been putting money aside in a health care flexible spending account, or FSA, make sure you spend it before your money effectively disappears at year’s end. Book yourself a dentist or eye appointment, or get an annual physical.
And check with your company to see whether there’s any wiggle room. Your employer might allow you to roll over up to $500 to the next year or give you a few months’ grace period.
With a little planning in the fall, you can save enough money to get through the long (and often pricey) holiday season that’s just ahead.
© Copyright 2016 NerdWallet, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Valentine’s Day is just over a week away which means now is the time to start scrambling, guys. If you’re anything like me (and a lot of you probably are) you have been putting off making plans for a while. The problem with putting it off for so long is that when you start calling restaurants to get a reservation, the only available times are before 5:00 and after 10:00 pm. So what are you left to do? Luckily, you still have enough time to plan a romantic evening while also spending less than if you were to head to a fancy restaurant. Here are a few quick ideas:
- Dinner at the house. This one will win her over if you really take the time to do it right. Try to pick out a main entrée that you know she will enjoy, then utilize your favorite search engine. If you’re not quite sure what you’re doing in the kitchen, there are tons of recipes available online and you can probably even watch a video on how to make it happen.
- Be at her service. Instead of spending lots of cash on expensive jewelry, give up your time. Offer to give a massage or do errands that she might otherwise do. Suggest to do the dishes for a month and you’ll really have made her feel special.
- Plan an activity together for a later date. Think about something she would enjoy doing (painting, dance classes, watching the Bachelor) and plan to do it together. Get a nice card, type out your proposed plan and insert it in the card. Although this activity may not be something you’re super excited about, if you know it will make her happy, it will definitely be worth it.
Valentine’s Day is supposed to be a day about the love and adoration you have for your lady, so don’t make it stressful or expensive. If you haven’t planned out that special date yet, there’s still time – but not a whole lot.