Tis the season of back to school and settling in for the long, colder months ahead. Facing the holiday season can be daunting for those who struggle with money, but it doesn’t have to be. In fact, Fall is a fantastic time to not only save money, but even earn a few extra bucks.
Every season of the year offers unique opportunities when it comes to saving. Let’s explore some great ways to make the most of your Fall dollars. Learn what to buy, how to save, and where to earn more money in September.
What to Buy: The Best Investments for September
September is a great month for saving on Summer items for the coming year. Shop clearance for clothing, swimsuits, sandals and other apparel items. I shop a size larger for my kids and stick to items that are more forgiving. Yes, it can be tricky to guess how much your child will grow, but that shouldn’t stop you. Longer shorts with elastic waistbands and basic T-shirts are valuable size up items.
This is also the month where big ticket outdoor items like lawn mowers, grills and lawn and garden equipment are also marked down. If you need to invest in something like this, shop around during the first part of September and you’ll find awesome deals.
New cars are not known for being a great bargain, however, if you really are in the market for something new, this is the time car dealers are motivated to sell current year models to make way for next year’s stock. You can definitely find valuable trade-in and credit deals.
Labor Day weekend is notorious for mattress and furniture sales. While you can find great bargains, be sure you are doing research and aren’t just being targeted with clever marketing jargon. Many furniture places will “meet or beat” the competing stores in the area. Take them up on it.
Back to school sales aren’t just for school kids. As a work at home freelancer, I find this is the ideal time to stock up on items like index cards, pens, folders, notebooks, paper clips, printer paper and other office supplies for a steal. While you don’t want to buy unnecessary items you won’t use just because they are cheap, it is a great time to buy items that you know you will use. Purchase only what you need for the next year, there’s no need to fill a warehouse. Yes, it can be tempting to clear out the fifteen cent folder aisle, but will you actually use 50 of them? Probably not. Five to ten, however is a great deal!
Craft fairs are often in full swing starting in September. Consider buying from local vendors for the upcoming holidays. Your purchases can boost the local economy and help local families meet their own financial needs. You also benefit from finding unique, memorable gifts. This is a great time to “think outside the box store” and also save money. Last year, I purchased handmade ornaments for colleagues and family members and everyone appreciated them.
How to Save Money in September
This is the time of year for Fall festivals and many involve free or very inexpensive activities for the kids. Skip the expensive trip to the movie theater and treat yourself to a Fall themed event like a hayride instead. A quick search online or in your local newspaper will help you find many free events.
Looking for a day trip? September 30th is Free National Public Lands day! Load up the car with a picnic basket and head out for a day of exploring some of our greatest national treasures. With over 400 national parks to choose from, there should be opportunities near your location.
Trips to orchards are a great way to stock up on apples and have a fun day out with the family. Buy in bulk and prepare pie fillings, applesauce or apple butter to enjoy all season long.
Halloween is the first major Fall holiday that can be very expensive. Rather than doling out cash for pricey costumes, consider starting a costume swap in your neighborhood or church group. Everyone brings in costumes in varying sizes and the kids can “shop” for free. You save a bundle and they can choose a great costume that’s new to them.
This is the time of year where major retailers begin their holiday layaway season. Layaway can be a great way to shop for the holidays and other big ticket items because it allows shoppers to spread out payments interest free over a few months. Take advantage of it and spare your credit a ding from applying for new cards. You’ll also avoid large credit card bills come January – bonus!
September is a great month for “roughing it” in most regions. Turn off the air conditioning and the heat. Wear a sweatshirt if you’re chilly, or open the windows if you’re warm. This is the time of year where the temperature extremes aren’t there, so take the opportunity to save some money that you can put towards the bills that come in the colder months. Even if you are on a budget billing cycle, it’s still a wise choice. Once a year your “average use” is calculated, and that could mean a pleasant surprise in your monthly billing amount if you elect to skip the heat/AC entirely for this month.
How to Earn Extra Money in the Fall
Now that the kids are back in school and everyone is settling in, it’s a great time to focus on some “side gigs” to earn a little extra cash.
Declutter and host a yard sale in September. If you can, bring your neighbors on board and hold a neighborhood sale. Spread the word for free via church bulletins, social media, Craigslist and community bulletin boards. People love a bargain and the neighborhood or city wide sales often draw large crowds.
What you don’t move through a garage sale, consider posting on Facebook marketplace or Craigslist. If you use common sense, this is a perfectly safe way to sell items. Always meet in a dedicated public location and bring someone with you. In many communities, police stations allow you to do public exchanges in their parking lot.
If you are a stay at home parent and find you have some more free time use it to learn a new marketable skill. I spend time on Udemy when they offer $10 courses. You can learn everything from coding, to online marketing and even how to start your own local business. This is a great opportunity for freelancers to make themselves more marketable. Spend time learning and researching ways to expand your business and find new customers. You don’t have a business yet you say? There’s never been a better time to start.
September is ideal for starting a sideline business. I used to spend the Fall months doing one-time deep house cleanings and organization for people. It’s inexpensive to start. All you need are basic cleaning supplies and minimal liability insurance. I would earn a few hundred extra bucks a week doing this while my kids were in school. Do a great job and word of mouth advertising can keep you very busy. Use that extra money to pay off any high-interest debts and also put some away in savings for rainy days.
Not into heavy manual labor? No worries, there are plenty of sideline business ideas. Use your creativity to put together and sell items, or use your skills to help local businesses on a freelance basis. Opportunities abound for those willing to seek them out. Transcription, writing, editing, customer service – where there’s will there’s a way.
Here’s wishing you a September filled with fantastic bargains and fabulous new opportunities to make and save money.