12 Frugal Living Tips For Fall
Fall is the season of schedules and routines, which makes it a great time to get back on budget and save money by following some easy frugal living tips for fall. From budgeting and meal planning to earning side income and taking advantage of the Earth’s bounty in autumn, now is the perfect time of year to spend a little less, save a little more and put a little extra away before the coldest and most expensive time of year hits in just a few months.
Here are 12 tips to help you live frugally this fall and maybe even generate a little extra income too!
1. Have A Yard Sale!
We usually think of spring and summer when we think of clearing out old junk and putting it up for sale. But early fall is still a great time to have a yard sale! The weather has cooled down a bit but there are still sunny days to make the most of. And shoppers are still out looking to score some good deals before the bad weather sets in and yard sale season officially ends for the year.
Having a yard sale is a great way to clear out some clutter and make some space before heading indoors later this season. And if you have a decent amount of stuff (especially quality or rare goods), you could actually earn yourself a nice chunk of extra spending money, which is sure to go a long way as the holiday season kicks in to full gear. Be sure to watch the weather though and plan your sale for a sunny weekend day.
Pro tip: Post quality, new or rare/antique items online on local buy & sell pages or take them to consignment to earn even more than you might at a yard sale. This is also a great option if you only have a handful of quality goods to sell but not enough items (or time) for a full-on yard sale.
2. Eat (& Preserve) The Harvest
Fall is harvest season, and while this is also a frugal living tip for summer, you can still enjoy local, seasonal foods you either grew yourself or picked up for a steal at your local farmers markets come autumn.
It’s also prime preserving season as the last of the harvest come on with full force and we put up as much food as we can for winter.
Pro tip: Look on your local buy and sell pages for locals with extra fruit and nuts they might be willing to sell for cheap or even give away for free. You might have to go pick it yourself, but in my experience, many people are more than happy to give food away in exchange for you doing the harvesting work and cleaning it up off their property!
3. Create A Budget
Fall is the perfect time to get back to a routine and back on budget. Take some time to review your finances and create a realistic budget that works for you and your family. Remember to factor in the upcoming holiday season and plan to put a little extra aside for Thanksgiving and Christmas so you can stay on budget and out of debt when the most wonderful (read: expensive) time of year rolls around.
Pro tip: Take out the exact amount of cash you budget for the week and allot it to your various weekly expenses by placing it in different envelopes or jars labelled “groceries,” “gas,” “entertainment,” etc. For more on this method, check out Dave Ramsey’s envelope system.
4. Meal Plan
Speaking of routines, fall is a great time to get your meal planning back on track. Whether you’re meal planning for health reasons, to save time and stress less or to make sure you’re using up food before it goes bad and stretch your meals as far as they’ll go, all of the above reasons will also save you money at the end of the day.
Having a weekly meal plan based around what you already have on hand means nothing goes to waste and saves you money buying extra ingredients while other things go bad in your fridge. It also helps you stay on track with your health and spending by curbing your urge to grab fast, processed, convenience foods when it’s already late and you haven’t thought about dinner yet. No downside!
Download our Weekly Meal Planning Template along with fridge, freezer and pantry inventory sheets and Smart Shopping List here in our Free Resource Library to help get your meal planning in order this fall!
5. Put A Sweater On!
While it may be tempting to crank the heat up come the cooler days of fall, save some money by finding other ways to get warm. It’s still warm enough out that simply putting on a sweater (maybe a scarf?) is probably enough to keep warm both inside and outside. Or cuddle up under a blanket with your sweetheart (or furry friend) and sip on some tea or hot cocoa. Just resist the urge to turn the heat on just yet! You’ll be glad you waited when you’re heating and electricity usage skyrockets come winter.
If you have a wood stove, you can delay turning your heat on for even longer, or even forgo it altogether! Plus, you can avoid using your stove by cooking on top of your wood stove instead. And anyone can save money on electricity by turning off the lights and lighting a few candles at night instead. Or turn off the TV and read instead! Fall is a great time to cozy up with a good book:)
6. Prep Your Home For Winter
You can go one step further to save on heating and electricity this fall and winter by prepping your home for the cold. Invest in some weather stripping around drafty doors and windows or heat-shrink some plastic over old windows to keep the cold air out. Switch to LED lightbulbs to save money on electricity and stock up on candles, flashlights, batteries and blankets in case the power goes out during a winter storm.
Of course, if you have a wood stove or wood-burning fireplace, make sure you’re stocked up on dry, seasoned wood for the winter and make sure that it’s well covered so it doesn’t get wet (and become useless) during fall and winter rains.
7. Go On a Fall Hike/Walk/Picnic
In my personal opinion, there’s no better (or more beautiful) time of year to enjoy a walk in the woods or a picnic in the park than early fall. The crisp, cool air, warm sunshine and bright oranges, yellows and reds of newly fallen leaves make this fall the most gorgeous time of the year in my humble opinion.
Fall is also the “Goldilocks” season: Not too hot, not too cold, but just right! It makes for perfect weather for soaking up as much outdoor activity as you can before everybody moves indoors for the next few months. Plus, all of the above activities are completely free to enjoy! Just grab a friend or your loved ones, pack a lunch and hit your local parks, trails, esplanade or country roads. Bring a cup of hot chai and a sweater and you’re all set to enjoy fall at its most glorious:)
8. Have A Bonfire
Fall is bonfire season, at least if you live in the country. Take advantage of this free fall activity and plan a bonfire party with your friends or neighbours. Gather fixings for hotdogs and s’mores, pack a cooler full of ice and cold bevies and fill up the kids’ (and kids at heart) thermoses with hot cocoa.
Assign tasks to people so that everybody pitches in. Tasks might include being responsible for food and drinks, fuel for the fire, chairs and blankets, music and extras like lighting, games and decor.
For more great ideas to help you plan a fall bonfire, check out this article on Fall Bonfire Parties For An Unforgettable Night from aptly named website, pumpkinly.com.
9. Go Hunting Or Fishing
While gardening season is winding to a close, hunting and fishing season is kicking into high gear. If you’re an avid hunter or fisherman, take advantage of the opportunity to get out on a few more adventures before the weather turns and stock your freezer with some beautiful wild fish and game.
If you’ve never been fishing or hunting but are interested in trying it out, look online for safety courses offered by your local rod and gun club and ask if there is anybody who can mentor or guide you (if you don’t personally know anyone). Check Facebook for local hunting and fishing groups to start getting acquainted with the local hunting and fishing community and find a guide!
10. Go Mushroom Picking
Fall is a great time to go foraging for wild mushrooms. If you’re a seasoned mushroom-picker and know what you’re doing already, make a day of it with friends and family and enjoy a fall day spent walking and mushroom hunting in nearby woods. Chanterelles and oyster mushrooms are just two of many varieties of mushrooms you might happen upon in the fall.
If you’re new to mushroom picking, see if you can sign up for a local course or guided foraging trip, and pick up a guide to local mushrooms in you area. Get to know a couple varieties really well and focus on looking for those.
Safety tip: Make sure you are absolutely POSITIVE you know what type of mushroom you’ve harvested before you eat it. Many wild mushrooms are highly poisonous and can lead to severe illness and even death, so when in doubt, toss it back to the forest. Don’t take chances with health and safety.
11. Make Your Christmas List Now
Now is the time to start planning for Christmas if you haven’t started doing so yet. Say what?
Yup. It’s that time of year again when the holidays are about to sneak up on us and we’ll be left wondering how it’s “Christmas already?”
Personally, I start planning for Christmas on Boxing Day. No joke. I take advantage of Boxing Week sales and start stocking up on gifts for the following year. And I continue to plan for Christmas throughout the spring, summer and fall as I make extra jams, jellies, pickles and preserves to give as gifts over the holidays. But fall is really the time to start planning for Christmas to make sure you don’t overspend. Plus, planning ahead of time means less stress for you later on!
Make your gift list now and keep an eye out for things you’re looking to buy for people in end-of-season sales or, later, around Black Friday and other pre-Christmas sales. Plan and prepare now and stick to your list so you don’t spend money you don’t have on things that nobody needs.
And continue to preserve food, both for gifts and for putting out on the table when hosting holidays dinners and parties. Not only will you save money later on, but you’ll make life a whole lot easier on yourself if your apple pie filling is already made from scratch and home-canned, ready to dump out of a jar!
12. Pick Up A Side Job (Or Start A Side Hustle)
As the season of routines kicks into high gear again, it’s the perfect time of year to pick up a little extra work or even start a side hustle of your own!
Never heard of a side hustle? It simply means starting a small business of your own that you can do part time while also working your full time job, whether that be in an office, on a farm or as a stay-at-home-mom. Some ideas for side hustles you can do this fall include making things to sell online and at craft fairs (lots of those coming up soon!), selling things on eBay, starting a blog, freelance writing, daycare or babysitting, starting a coaching or consulting business, handyman work or helping fell trees, clean gutters or even chop wood for people who need the help.
Other side jobs you might want to look into include part-time work of any kind, especially evening work if you already work a full time job. Waitressing and bartending have always been my go-to sources of extra income and you can work a flexible schedule. But all you have to do is take a look at your local Craigslist or other local job postings board to see what’s available. It’s a great way to keep busy NOT spending money this fall and earn a little extra cash while you’re at it!
Got any other great frugal living ideas for fall? Be sure to share them in the comments section below and keep the conversation going!