If your goal is to build a solid emergency fund so you’re protected from racking up debt when unplanned bills arise, you need to start somewhere. And that could mean reaching your goal gradually by saving $100 a month.
Socking away $100 a month is doable but tricky nonetheless. Someone spending $2,000 on an apartment in an area where the average rent is only $1,400 might have plenty of options for slashing their spending. But if you’re paying under-market rent, that’s not a route you can pursue.
Similarly, perhaps you truly spend very little on leisure and non-essential bills. In that case, finding a spare $100 over four weeks and change could mean having to give up the few things you tend to treat yourself to.
But the good news is that there may be a way to close out October with an extra $100 without making yourself miserable. Here are a few options to consider.
1. Be smart about heat usage as the weather changes
In some parts of the country, October is when the weather turns cold enough that property owners feel compelled to turn on the heat at home. But if you don’t rush to crank up the thermostat, you might manage to close out the month with a smaller heating bill — and more money for your savings.
This isn’t to say that you should allow yourself to be perpetually uncomfortable in your home. But you may be surprised at how layering on a cozy sweatshirt can take the place of heat. And if you work from home, not running the heat all day could result in a lot of banked cash.
If you have a programmable thermostat, you can set it to lower the heat at home automatically at times when you’re asleep or not around. Otherwise, just be mindful of those settings and adjust them accordingly.
2. Explore free entertainment
October is a great month to spend outdoors. But rather than pay a premium to explore a pumpkin patch or take a 12-minute hay ride with your family, find free things to do instead.
Look up local trails and take in the colored leaves. Research state parks and see if any have environmental centers with no-cost programming. And look at your town’s social media page to see if there are any local meetups for adults who enjoy sports or parents who want the company of other families at the playground. That way, you can get your fill of the season without having to spend money.
3. Go easy on Halloween
Halloween spending across the U.S. is expected to reach $12.2 billion this year, reports the National Retail Federation. And on an individual basis, consumers are expecting to spend $108.24 on average, up from the previous record high of $102.74 in 2021.
There’s nothing wrong with celebrating Halloween, whether by letting your kids dress up in costume or setting up a table so neighborhood kids can stop by for candy. But if you want to save $100 this month, don’t go overboard, either.
Try making costumes for your kids or encouraging them to wear last year’s getups if they’re more focused on the amount of candy they get than what they look like. And while it’s fun to adorn your porch with spider webs and scary goblins, if you can’t swing the decor, a homemade “Happy Halloween” sign also does the trick.
Finally, be judicious about buying candy. Don’t purchase give-outs for 100 when you normally get 20 to 30 trick-or-treaters. And while it’s nice to be the person on the block who gives out full-sized candy bars, if you’re eager to boost your savings, don’t be the hero this year. Instead, stick to lower-cost miniatures.
Meanwhile, if you do tend to attract a crowd, consider buying your candy in bulk at Costco. And if you don’t have a membership, ask a friend who has one if you can tag along.
Closing out October with an extra $100 might make you feel worlds better about your finances. So be a little stingy with heat at home if that’s doable, pursue free outdoor activities, and don’t overspend on Halloween so you’re able to hit that goal.
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