How to Save Money This Fall By: Virginia Garbowski, Digital Branch Manager The transition from summer to fall is more than just a change of seasons. For many people, it means shifting from a slower-paced, more laid back time of year to one that’s hectic and full of activity. This is especially true if you have kids. It means getting them back to school (albeit virtually, in some cases this year) and dealing with all the disruptions – and costs – that entails. This brings us to another fall necessity: saving money. Though this year’s vacation season was likely quieter and less expensive for most families due to COVID-19, summer is generally the time of year when you’re apt to splurge and worry less about money. It’s a time for fun, frivolity and throwing caution to the wind (within reason). But fall is when reality sets back in, and you may need to make some tough decisions about spending. To mark the beginning of the new season, here are four tips on how to save money this fall: 1. Do a seasonal audit of your expenses. It’s understandable that you might be less concerned with your budget and where your money is actually going during the summer, especially if you’re on vacation. But fall is a great time to do a thorough audit of all your spending – and hopefully find ways to cut back or save. The best thing to do is to log all your bills and expenses. By taking note of where your money is going, you’ll be able to get a better handle on how to control it. Don’t forget the small expenses that add up quickly like coffee in the morning or subscription plans you’re not using. Many people subscribe to a streaming service to watch a single show, for instance, and then neglect to cancel it, while it keeps getting automatically charged to their credit card or account each month. Every dollar counts, and when spending your money, you’ll want to make sure that each dollar is being used in the best way possible.After you’ve logged your expenses and totaled them for the month, it’s usually easy to see where the spending issues may be occurring. Once you’ve spotted the issues, take action! By calling your cable, internet or phone providers, you may be able to change your plan so you’re removing services you’re not using and, at the same time, lowering those monthly payments. Also, use this time to contact other vendors. If your insurance is high, is there another company that can offer you the same level of coverage at a lower price? Finally, ask for help. If you feel like you need some assistance in managing debt or using the funds in your savings account in the best way, contact a financial professional who can help ensure you’re on a great path to move forward. 2. Take advantage of back to school sales. Back to school season is my favorite time of year! There are great sales on not only school supplies, but other items needed for the classroom like cleaning wipes, tissues, snacks and even healthcare items like Band Aids! Take this time to be a savvy shopper and look at your local chains as well as your online vendors to find the best prices. Buying in bulk can save you some money and you can swap with another parent so you both have exactly what’s needed for the kids to return to school. Keep in mind that your kids may lose items or need replacements due to wear and tear. Buy enough to get them through the year and have a designated place where the supplies can be stored. Your children will know just where to get those new items, and you won’t have to run to the store in December for a new binder and be stuck paying full price! 3. Find small ways to save. After the indulgences of summer, it’s good to simplify your living expenses in the fall by finding those small ways to save money every day. I mentioned the cost-saving potential of buying in bulk when it comes to back to school supplies, but the same argument goes for most of the everyday things you buy. When buying in bulk, you’re able to take advantage of store sales and discounts and avoid having to pay full price if you run out suddenly. In general, you should have the following attitude when shopping: if you’re not going to use it, there’s no point buying it – even if it’s on sale! Fall is also a great time for less costly recreational activities, such as having late-in-the-year cookouts (before it gets to chilly) or a backyard fire (once the colder weather comes) rather than going out to restaurants, for instance. 4. Track your expenses! Finally, the best way to make sure you do cut down on your small expenses is to really keep track of them. Even a small expense can add up quickly when it’s recurring, but how much you’re really paying may not be obvious to you if you’re not looking closely. Receipts are a great way to keep track, regardless of whether they are electronic or paper. If you don’t have access to your receipts (and you’re an Affinity member), using the Affinity App and online banking makes sorting transactions by day very easy, and that information can even be exported to a spreadsheet for continued record keeping. Look for online notifications as well so you’ll be alerted when a charge is made to your debit or credit card account. This ensures that nothing goes overlooked. The changing of the seasons can also mean a change in the way you do things in your own life. This fall, make that change be one that strengthens your course toward financial wellbeing! This information is for informational purposes only and is intended to provide general guidance and does not constitute legal, tax, or financial advice. Each person’s circumstances are different and may not apply to the specific information provided. You should seek the advice of a financial professional, tax consultant, and/or legal counsel to discuss your specific needs before making any financial or other commitments regarding the matters related to your condition are made.