31 ways to save on staying warm & having fun this fall

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With the cold weather approaching, it’s time to look for ways to stay warm & entertained without breaking your budget. Consider: How are you going to keep your heating costs down this year?

The average American spends about $115.49 per month on energy, and nearly half of that goes towards heating and cooling. But heating isn’t your only concern — winterizing your home, your car and your wardrobe costs money.

Here are some fall energy-saving tips and ideas for low-cost fall fun to help you enjoy colder weather without overspending.

Fall & winter savings tips

Ready for sweater weather? Consider these 31 tips for saving money this fall while staying cozy and enjoying the season.

1. Seal your home

Before the cold weather hits, use caulk to seal any openings around your house that could allow cold air in. If too much cold air is getting in, then you’ll need to crank up the thermostat, which may cost you unnecessarily. Install weather stripping and seals around your doors, windows, mail chute, and air conditioner, too.

2. Have your heaters checked

Get in touch with your landlord, repairman, and/or heating company to check that your furnace and fireplace are properly functioning. They may check to see that the pilot is still on and clear any buildup and dust that may have accumulated in the warmer months, potentially saving you a costly (and inconvenient) service call mid-season.

3. Clean up your yard

Branches, debris or overgrown trees on your property can damage your home or car. Clean up any unsecured items or dead trees and branches while it’s still warm enough to enjoy the outdoors. Call a professional gardener for advice if you need to.

4. Winterize your gutters

Gutters filled with leaves and other debris can clog and form ice dams in the winter. Water can get into the roof and foundation of your home. Spend some time clearing your gutters before the cold weather comes to avoid costly repairs.

5. Set your thermostat to 68 degrees (or lower)

Make a goal and tell everyone in your home that you want to keep the thermostat at 68 degrees or lower throughout the fall and into the winter. This can help you keep utility bills under control.

6. Open curtains during the day

Take advantage of sunlight to heat your home and provide bright natural lighting throughout the day. You may be able to turn your thermostat down during the day when the curtains are open for additional energy savings.

7. Close curtains at night

When the sun starts to set, close those curtains to trap that heat inside your home and insulate your windows.

8. Invest in thermal curtains

Those cute sheer panels you have up in the summer just aren’t going to cut it in the cold fall months and beyond. Instead, switch them out for thermal curtains, which will add more insulation and keep your home warmer. Ideally, your thermal curtains will have thick padding and multiple layers of fabric to stop air from circulating from your window and into your home.

9. Set your ceiling fan to spin clockwise

Warm air rises. When your ceiling fan spins clockwise, it pushes down the warm air from ceiling level to your level — to keep you cozy all season long.

10. Turn your thermostat down at key times

Whenever you don’t need much heat, like when you’re sleeping or out at work, you can find some extra fall savings by turning your thermostat down 10 to 15 degrees. Less heating should mean lower heating bills.

11. Install a smart thermostat

When you’re looking into how to save on utilities, technology is your friend. If you often forget to turn your thermostat down, you might want to invest in a smart thermostat such as the Google Nest. The Nest allows you to control your thermostat from anywhere via smartphone app, and offers intelligent programming such as Eco mode, which can sense when you are not home and automatically adjust the temperature to save energy.

12. Wear warm clothes at home

Break out your favorite cozy sweater and flannel pants for wearing around the house, because they could help you save big on your electric bill. For every degree you lower your thermostat in cold weather, you could save 1% on your monthly heating bill. It’s called sweater weather for a reason, after all!

13. Pile on the blankets

Along with layering up, another one of the best savings tips for cold fall weather is to purchase warmer blankets. Typically, down, cotton fleece, wool, and cashmere blankets are the warmest. They are great insulators and perfect for using on your bed or on the couch.

14. Check your car battery

It takes much more energy to properly power your battery in the colder months. Along with making sure your car battery is functioning properly, ask a mechanic to check and see if it’s at or above 600 CCA. This should improve your car’s performance in cold weather.

15. Look into your car’s cooling system

While you’re at the mechanic and winterizing your car, have your cooling system checked, too. It’s a good idea to make sure you have a ratio of between 50/50 and 70/30 of antifreeze to water to protect against freezing and potential corrosion.

16. Consider buying winter tires

Getting winter tires is crucial if you live somewhere that experiences winter weather early on, like in October. When temperatures drop to freezing levels, the rubber compounds in the non-winter tires will harden, and this will reduce the tire’s ability to grip the road. This could be very dangerous and not only lead to accidents and injuries but considerable costs as well.

17. Head to the thrift store

While buying new cold-weather clothes may be convenient, you could save big by purchasing these items secondhand. Even if you don’t find any clothes that fit, you may be able to stock up on scarves, mittens, blankets and more.

18. Shop at the right times

If you’re purchasing new fall clothes in September, you likely aren’t going to get the best deal. Instead, break out those fall clothes from last year and then wait until late January or early February to restock on cold-weather apparel. The end of the season is when you’re going to snag the best deals.

19. Sign up for store promotions

If you sign up for store emails with your favorite retailers, you can access coupons and other deals throughout the season and save on your cold-weather clothing and accessory purchases.

20. Sign up for rewards programs

Enrolling in retailers’ rewards programs could also lead to big fall savings. For instance, with Macy’s Star Rewards, you can get 1% back in rewards, a birthday surprise, and other perks and offers. If you use your Macy’s card to make purchases, you could save even more. Platinum members get 5% back on purchases as well as free shipping and more. Look into your favorite stores’ rewards programs to see what you could receive for being a loyal shopper.

21. Look at shipping costs

When it comes to shopping for cold-weather gear online, make sure you calculate shipping costs into your budget. If you need to buy something from a specific store, determine whether the shipping costs are worth it or if there is an option to get it shipped free to the store.

22. Create a fall budget

Having a budget year-round is ideal, but creating one for the fall can keep you at the top of your fall savings game. Use a budget planner app (like SoFi Relay) to track your spending, meet your fall savings goals, see all of your accounts on the go, and monitor your credit score.

23. Make your fall lattes at home

While you may love the Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks — who doesn’t? — that treat could end up costing you more than $5 a pop. Instead, buy ground coffee that comes in fall flavors and the instant version of the PSL, which is only $5.99 for a pack of five at Target. Add some whipped cream, and the homemade version will taste just as good.

24. Eat more plant-based foods

Save money on food in the fall by switching to at least a partially plant-based diet based on the fruits and vegetables that are in season. Foods that are in season in the fall include apples, pumpkins, bananas, carrots, spinach, kale, lemons, cabbage, raspberries, bell peppers, beets and broccoli.

25. Make chili

Chili is a cost-effective food that can be plant-based or meat-based and keep you satisfied for days on end. At the beginning of the week, make a big batch that you can eat on its own, with bread, or inside of tacos. This comfort food will keep you warm, cozy and satiated all season long.

26. Clip those coupons

Another way to save is by looking in your weekly store circulars and clipping coupons for all the foods you’re going to purchase. You probably get these for free in the mail or as an insert in your weekly newspaper.

27. Go online for coupons

You can also save money on food by searching for coupons online prior to heading out to the store. Aside from your grocery store’s coupon offerings, you can find entire websites filled with manufacturer’s coupons simply by searching “grocery coupons.”

28. Find free events in your area

While going to your local county fair or pumpkin patch is enjoyable, it could involve a pricey admission fee. Instead, look for free events to go to in your area. Check your local newspaper’s event calendar or log onto Yelp for some ideas.

29. Sit around the fire

If you have a fire pit, you can invite some friends over for some low-cost or free fall fun. Break out the marshmallows and hot apple cider to get into the spirit of the season!

30. Jump into a pile of leaves

Piles of leaves provide lots of entertainment, especially for kids. Once you’re finished raking your yard, set aside a pile you or your kids can jump into for some good old-fashioned free fall fun.

31. Switch to a streaming subscription

While a cable package can cost more than $200 per month, streaming services like Netflix cost less than $20 per month. Since you’re going to be spending a lot of time indoors, maximize your fall savings by opting for a streaming subscription instead of paying big bucks for cable packages.

The takeaway

With a little common sense and some focused spending on things like preventative maintenance and smart technology, you could cruise into this fall and winter prepared to stay cozy and save money.

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This article originally appeared on SoFi.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.


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Tips for buying a home in the winter

Tips for buying a home in the winter

Sunny days can mean that more people are primed to go out and look at houses. There’s the common adage that spring or summer is one of the best times to buy a home. After all, in warmer months, parents may have more time to house hunt and sellers might be more likely to accept an offer before the chilly weather or school year starts.

But even when flowers are blooming in the yard, ample reasons abound why certain homeowners prefer buying a house in the winter. If an individual gets a job in November and needs to relocate in the new year, for example, they might like to buy a home in December. And that off-season choice may not always be a bad thing for the buyer.

Housing prices during the winter months, often, are lower than in warmer months. In 2019, January saw the lowest average sales price of a new home at $361,100, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Compare that to $392,700 in August when buyers might be antsy to close quickly before school’s back in session.

Here are some tips for buying a house in winter, including some pros and cons for buyers.

Related:How much does it cost to remodel a house?

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Not everyone wants to (or is able to) shop for houses during the winter months. Freezing temperatures, inclement weather and pre-scheduled vacations can keep would-be homebuyers away. During the winter season, many parents are spending more time wrangling kids in school and numerous individuals also travel during the holidays.

Fewer people shopping for homes could mean less competition for those in the market for a house. And diminished competition might mean winter homebuyers can be more discerning in their choices. There’s less pressure to snap up a house for fear another buyer will get to it first.

In the winter, there’s also less likelihood of being caught up in a bidding war with a slew of other interested buyers, which can drive up costs. While there are often fewer houses for sale during the winter, buyers may be more likely to land their desired home closer to the asking price then.

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With some buyers distracted by children or the jam-packed holidays, it can be trickier to sell a home in the wintertime. Some sellers putting their homes on the market in the winter only do so because they really have to.

The seller’s snag, though, can be a boon for buyers, as winter homesellers may be more motivated to get the sale done with faster than their summertime counterparts. Motivated winter sellers might be willing to negotiate on things like price, closing costs and the closing date.

Nevertheless, some houses are on the market in the winter because the listing has lingered there since the summer selling season. Homes like these are at times called “stale listings.” Sellers with homes listed for many months may feel burnt out or even just testing out the market. Counterintuitively, a longer listing time can make some sellers more likely to reject low offers.

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Closing is when the title of a property legally changes hands from the seller to the buyer. When buyers and sellers are negotiating the sale of a home, they work together to set a closing date when the house title will officially transfer between the parties.

Real estate agents often work with mortgage brokers to find a suitable day that will allow enough time for the deal to be executed properly. But in warmer months, banks, inspectors and appraisers are handling a lot of new buyers. In practice, this glut of interested buyers could mean mortgage brokers are backed up for weeks or even months.

In the winter months, with fewer interested buyers calling, things slow down for lenders. Winter buyers might, therefore, close on their homes faster and get settled in more quickly.

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Visiting a property in person can tell a buyer a lot about a home. But in the summertime, some of a house’s less attractive qualities can be masked by warm weather, blossoming gardens and the brilliant summer sun.

Seeing a house in the winter can give buyers a chance to understand how it holds up under tougher conditions. Is the house too gloomy in low light? Does cold air creep in from the windows? Does ice jam up the gutters causing the roof to leak? Does a long driveway that needs to be shoveled seem less appealing in the winter than in June? Getting a chance to suss out potential problems like these can provide a fuller picture of what actually living in a property might be like year round.

That said, homebuyers might want to keep in mind that some aspects of a home can be harder to grasp in the winter months. For example, it’s tough to test out an air conditioning unit in the winter time.

It’s also more difficult to get a strong sense of what the entire outside of a home looks like when the weather is frosty. Are snow banks covering up trouble spots in the siding or foundation? Which parts of the landscaping are dormant? Are any parts of the yard dead or in need of replacement?

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When moving from an old place to a new home, winter can pose some additional challenges. Boxes and furniture may need to be wrapped in plastic to waterproof them against inclimate weather. Winter can also make driving conditions a bit dicey for movers.

Still, moving in the winter can be cheaper than in the summer. Fewer people buying homes means less demand for movers, which in turn could mean more competitive pricing.

What’s more, with lighter schedules, moving companies may be more flexible and able to accommodate desired moving dates. (It can be helpful to stay flexible with move dates in the winter since a big snowstorm might mean sudden delays.)

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Movers aren’t the only people who are less busy in the winter months. Fewer people shopping for houses means there’s less work for realtors.

Agents may have more time in the winter to spend helping individual buyers find the house that meets their exact needs. Also, when it comes time to negotiate, agents may have more hours to go to bat for their clients to secure a better deal.

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Buying a house in December (rather than waiting until the following spring) can allow buyers to take advantage of last-minute savings on that year’s taxes. Homebuyers can deduct interest paid on up to $750,000 of mortgage debt on a first or second home. And buyers who itemize their deductions can deduct up to $10,000 of state and local property taxes from their federal taxes.

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Location, location, location is the eternal real estate mantra. Similarly, the “best” time to buy will also vary by locale. Homebuyers in warmer climates (like Florida, Arizona or Southern California) may not notice dramatic differences in seasonal buying. Sellers in sunny areas may be less concerned that cold weather might dampen their chances to sell their homes, so inventory could be higher in the winter than in colder climates. There could also be fewer winter deals in sunnier locales.

In some places, shopping for a house in the winter may even be more comfortable than in the summer. Buyers looking for a house in Phoenix during the winter, for example, may find shopping when average temperatures are in the high 60s much more pleasant than the city’s triple-digit summer highs.

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Once a homebuyer has found a house they’re interested in, it can be helpful beforehand to know how to finance the property. Taking out a home mortgage loan from a private lender might help homebuyers purchase their dream dwelling.

Learn more:

This article originally appeared on SoFi.comand was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

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Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

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