Not to frighten you, but the holiday season is quickly approaching. If you want to be generous with your giving but mindful of your spending, you need to start pinching your pennies now. Good news: Beyond those trusty daily habits like making coffee at home and bringing lunch to work, there are some more season-specific ways to keep your expenses down this month.
Here are some creative but easy ways to pinch a few pennies in October so you don't have to squeeze as tight later:
Do your dry cleaning at home
Those "dry clean only" cooler weather clothes you're bringing into rotation? You might be able to skip pricey dry cleaning fees and launder some items at home. Garments made from cotton, linen, wool, or durable polyester can likely be hand-washed, or even delicately machine-washed at home. (Just don't put them in a hot dryer!) You can also decide to grab an at-home dry-cleaning kit for $20 to take a bit of the guesswork out of things. One caveat: If your garment is actually stained, better to leave that to the pros.
Turn your AC down
Take advantage of cooler temps at night by turning your AC down or off while you sleep, reaping the energy cost savings. Or, if weather permits or you're especially up for a challenge, turn off the air around the clock and rely on fans instead.
Don't succumb to sales
Rather than fall for impulse Columbus Day sale purchases, make a list right now of things you want to buy. Or better yet, wait for the really good Black Friday or post-Christmas sales. Bonus: Waiting to buy may make you realize you don't in fact need what you almost impulse-bought.
Make your own pumpkin spice lattes
Some of us count down the days until it's "acceptable" to utter the PSL word. As much as we love them, though, their price tag stings. Make them at home with this recipe and sip with impunity.
Choose free weekend activities to celebrate fall
Speaking of fall traditions, switch your movie theater nights for fun but free weekend activities to enjoy the sights and tastes of fall. In addition to a trek to the pumpkin patch, go apple picking or on a colorful hike.
Set price alerts for gifts on your list
This will save you money, obviously, but also the time and temptation of shopping for the best price. If you're an Amazon shopper, CamelCamelCamel is a great resource for staying on top of smart buying. We also love the Honey browser extension for saving money at checkout. And moolah protects you with price alerts even after you buy, processing the refund for you.
Don't buy Halloween costumes
Necessity is the mother of invention and parameters, even if self-imposed, are the mother of creativity. Decide not to buy Halloween costumes and instead swap with friends or rig up something awesome from things you have at home. We bet it'll be even more fun and memorable.
Use all the parts of your pumpkin
Don't relegate your pumpkins to merely decorative objects. You can roast the pumpkin seeds and package them up as a weekday snack for some next-level frugality that'll save you a few bucks at the vending machine. Plus pumpkin seeds are great in granola, in pesto, or as a salad topper. And, of course, you can use the pumpkin flesh itself to make all sorts of delicious recipes.
Make your own scented candles
Nothing is as hygge as the warm flicker of a candle. Here's how to make your own scented candles (and, incidentally, add another fall tradition to your repertoire). Or try your hand at these even easier and more frugal clementine candles.