Fall into Seasonal Savings

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Fall is a beautiful and easily enjoyable time of year. With rising heating costs, the holidays on the horizon, and then tax season looming shortly thereafter, it can bring serious financial stress to some people, though.

The good news is there are plenty of ways to save money in the fall. With these frugal tips, not only can you survive fall, you can enjoy yourself and revel in the season, too!

Save Around the House

There are tons of things that you can do around your home in Autumn to save money, both now and also moving forward into the winter. Take advantage of these easy changes and keep your eyes on your bills to watch the savings mount.

Let Mother Nature Be Your Thermostat
The weather can be your AC bill’s very best friend in the fall.

Depending upon where you live, this may be the best time of year to turn off your AC unit and open your windows instead. Not only will you save on electricity, you’ll also get that fresh, aired-out feeling all through your home.

Weatherproof Now, Save Later
While the weather is still nice, take a walk around your home and make sure that your doors and windows still have nice, tight seals. If you find a leak, take the time to patch it.

This ten minute exercise will save you tons on future heating and keep you more comfortable, too.

Switch Your Fans
We all know that warm air rises, but many people don’t know you can change your ceiling fans to take advantage of that!

Simply by switching your fan blades, you can make your ceiling fan force the warm air back downward. Some fans even have a switch that will reverse the direction your fan spins so you don’t have to manually switch the blades yourself.

You’ll have that light breeze that you love, and a warmer, more energy efficient home because of it.

Break Out The Soft Stuff
When the temperature dips, it’s tempting to go straight to the thermostat and kick it up a few notches. You can easily resist this temptation if you’ve already washed and prepared your sweaters, blankets, and flannel sheets.

Get these things ready while it’s still balmy and you won’t miss a beat when the brisk winds kick in.

Stock Up For Summer
Yes, it may seem like next summer is far away, but it’ll be here again before you know it.

Stock up on summer essentials like sunscreen, towels, citronella candles, and even big-ticket items like new patio furniture. These goods will all be on clearance, so you’re not likely to score a better deal than this.

Budget Wisely

Budget is a word that gets a bad rap, but sticking to a budget is a really great way to save money. Figure out exactly how much you intend to spend this fall, and then stick to those numbers as closely as possible. I realize holiday shopping may make this a bit more difficult than at other times of year, so read on for tips on how to to stay in budget even when you’re feeling festive.

Gym Membership
Let’s face it – this pre-holiday season is a busy one, so your gym attendance may suffer a bit. Why not put your membership on hold until January?

You could save hundreds of dollars, and with decent temperatures, you can go for jogs, take hikes, or workout in your own backyard instead.

Use Shopping Programs Online
There are tons of sites and apps out there that will pay you money back for just about any purchase you could make.

Sites like Rakuten will show you all the coupons available and then give you an additional percentage back on the items that you buy. If saving on the front end is more your thing, apps like Honey will help you save money by scouring the internet for low prices and further discounts – all before you hit the “Buy Now” button.

With all the holiday shopping coming up, fall is the perfect time to get started with these services, so research them, install them, and use them sooner rather than later.

Black Friday
You know you’ll be shopping soon, so plan out your big purchases in advance, and wait for Black Friday if at all possible.

This year, retailers are making it easier than ever before – you don’t even have to go into the stores to score the really great deals. If you like instant gratification, don’t worry – for many major retailers, you can shop online and choose same-day in-store pick up.

This is truly the best of both worlds.

Farmers’ Markets
There’s so much great produce to be had at this time of year, and farmers’ markets are the ideal place to pick up a fresh, delicious harvest.

You’ll be able to save money by making great meals at home and you’ll be supporting your local economy, too. Bonus savings? The vegetables are so satisfying this time of year, you can make meatless meals and not even miss out on flavor.

Look for plant-based dinner recipes featuring hearty root vegetables like sweet potatoes, turnips, carrots, and beets – these veggies will fill up even the hungriest diner.

Back to the Basics
With all the bounty of nature available, why not set yourself up for the future, too? In-season foods like apples and pumpkins can be frozen, canned, or turned into things like jam for future use, and elderberries (also in season) can be used to create an immunity-boosting syrup.

These chores may seem “old-fashioned”, but once you know what you’re doing, you can save up an abundance of goodies you’ll be happy to have later.

Get Crafty
With Christmas right around the corner, you may be tempted to throw in the towel and buy Amazon gift cards for everyone on your list. Don’t do that – it’s not memorable or special, and it certainly won’t save a dime.

Homemade gifts really show you care, and they can save a ton of Christmas cash, too. Look for a homemade gift to suit your expertise, and make them for anyone who might be interested. If you have a penchant for needlework, why not cross stitch something for members of your family? If you know how to crochet or knit, hats, or blankets always make for memorable gifts.

Maybe you’re into brewing, why not bottle a batch for everyone on your list? Wouldn’t you rather get a growler of homebrewed beer or a bottle of homemade Limoncello instead of the standard necktie or store bought sweater? I know I would!

Whatever your skill, there is something you can do that is not only cheaper, but also displays more thought and care than a gift card.

As you can see, there are tons of ways to make your fall season, happy, fun, and frugal. Take just a few of these tips, or apply them all and see just how much you can save – you might be happily surprised!

To a richer life,

Nilus Mattive

Nilus Mattive

The post Fall into Seasonal Savings appeared first on Daily Reckoning.

Ditch Senior Living and Stay in Your Own Home

This post Ditch Senior Living and Stay in Your Own Home appeared first on Daily Reckoning.

A lot of Americans diligently save up for retirement, but it doesn’t occur to most to plan for home renovations in their later years.

It can be hard to picture yourself having trouble with stairs, using a walker or wheelchair or needing assistive devices in the shower.

But three quarters of Americans aged 50 and over say they want to remain in their homes as they age, according to a survey by AARP, yet very few are taking any action toward that goal.

In fact, most people don’t take any steps to try and make their homes more accessible until disaster strikes, typically after a bad slip or fall.

According a report by the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University, 65 million households in the U.S. are now headed by someone over the age of 50. Yet, only 3.5% of the U.S. housing stock incorporates three vital features for aging in place: single-floor living, no-step entries, and extra-wide halls and doors, says the report.

The good news is there are clever ways you can save some money and make your home more age friendly.

Home Design

Instead of installing a chairlift on a staircase to access the second floor, it often makes more sense to convert a room on the main floor into a master bedroom.

Living on a single floor can reduce renovation costs. For example, it might allow you to only widen a few doorways versus many on both floors.

Another bonus in taking action now is with the right documentation, certain aging-in-place modifications will give you a tax write-off.

A wheelchair ramp may qualify you for a deductible medical expense. And veterans may also be eligible for financial assistance from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Here are three of the most practical aging-in-place modifications you should consider, along with cost estimates.

Note: costs may vary by contractor and location. Also, if you’re thinking these modifications sound expensive, consider the cost of inaction and the price of a nasty fall.

Here are three home renos to make if you want to live independently for as long as possible:

Bathroom Fixes

One in four Americans age 65-plus falls each year, making falls the biggest cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries in older Americans. And the place where people fall the most? The bathroom.

For fifty bucks each plus another hundred for installation, you can retrofit your existing bathrooms with grab bars. This will eliminate you having to remove your bathtub and install a walk-in shower.

However, if you’d prefer a walk-in shower, you can install one for around $4,000-$6,000.

Additional add-ons like hand-held shower heads that move toward you, rather than having to move yourself are also worthy of consideration.

When you shop, look for ADA compliant products, there’s a surprisingly large selection of ADA product out there that doesn’t look half bad.

Floor and Lighting Fixes

As you age, muscle weakness, joint pain and other issues can make navigating different surfaces in your home a challenge. You might have one room that’s hardwood floor, another that’s tiled, and another that’s carpet.

For around $12.50 a square foot, you can rip out your old carpet and install new laminate flooring. Keeping the surface friction and height relatively consistent in your home is key. Also, try to get rid of other trip hazards like area rugs.

Another major fall hazard is your lighting. Having different levels of lighting throughout the house can make moving around challenging as you get older. Uniform lighting means your eyes don’t have to adjust every time you leave a room, helping you keep your balance.

Starting at $6, you can buy non-glare LED light bulbs. Try to make every room as bright as possible and consider motion sensor lighting that turns on automatically when you enter a room.

Door and Staircase Fixes

The current recommended width of a doorway is a minimum 32 inches, according to the International Residential Code. Unfortunately, most older homes have more narrow doorways than this.

To prepare for old age, the recommended width is at least 36 inches to allow for easy wheelchair access. You’ll pay anywhere from $400-$500 to widen one doorway. This price will also depend on the doorway you’re trying to fix, like say having to move light switches or other fixtures that might bump up the cost.

The last reno you should be thinking about for your home are wheelchair ramps. These can run you anywhere from $5,000-$6,000 for a temporary aluminum ramp, all the way up to $12,000-$14,000 for a permanent 8-step structure that’s attached to your home.

If you know you’ve found your forever home and want to make it as future-proof as possible, renovations ideas like these can help make it easier to manage – and much safer.

To a richer life,

Nilus Mattive

— Nilus Mattive
Editor, The Rich Life Roadmap

The post Ditch Senior Living and Stay in Your Own Home appeared first on Daily Reckoning.