Fall is in full swing, and along with its changing leaves and weather, a number of our expenses also transform. That is right—fall can sneak up on your finances with unplanned expenses you don’t budget for year-round. Here are some common expenses and tips on how you can manage them.
Expense: If your children are enrolling in sports, after-school groups, music and arts programs, or general clubs, don’t forget to factor in the cost of buying uniforms, equipment, fundraising commitments, instruments and supplies—and possibly paying for travel around the state or country.
Tip: Don’t buy new. From online classified ads to the community newspaper, you can almost always find used sports equipment and musical instruments at extremely large discounts. In addition, many schools have a small supply of necessary equipment, which parents are able to rent for the year. For activities that don’t include transportation, ask other parents if they’d like to create a carpool schedule or see if it’s more economical to pitch in for an oversized vehicle rental.
Expense: The summer break is over. With fewer people on vacation, school back in session and construction still underway, the daily commute is only getting longer, which adds up to more money spent on gas and further wear on your vehicle—and bank account.
Tip: Beyond grabbing all your coworkers and piling in, there are plenty of ways to save on transportation. For example, there are phone apps that allow you to see the cheapest gas in your area and how prices are trending. In addition, many people avoid express lanes due to cost, but idling in traffic and repeat stop/starts can use up to a quarter to half gallon of fuel an hour.
Expense: As the Fahrenheit becomes less friendly, your utility bills will most likely follow suit. Most of us are creatures of comfort who want our homes to remain cozy, and the gradual rise in utility charges may creep up.
Tip: Requesting an annual budget plan from your power company allows you to pay the same amount every month so you can avoid extreme spikes in cost during colder months. In addition, they can do a free or low-cost energy audit on your home to teach you about best practices and weatherproofing with window covers or caulking, if necessary.
Expense: We invest a lot in America’s most popular sport. We put money into fantasy football dues, apparel, tickets, cable packages and more.
Tip: Saving money doesn’t mean you have to stop celebrating your favorite sport. Find places that show the game and offer inexpensive food and beverage choices. In addition, participate in lower-cost or free fantasy football leagues. If you’re an avid pro football attendee, try watching a few games on TV each season or attending high school or college games instead (which can be dramatically cheaper and just as fun).
Navy Federal Credit Union can help you save and budget year-round. Visit us any season to learn more about the services available to you.