Labor Day marks the unofficial end to Summer for many of us. While we still look forward to warm weather in September it won’t be long until it’s time to pull out sweaters and jackets and start thinking about the season ahead.
Fall is also an excellent time to start thinking about your year-end money strategy. The holidays are closer than you think, which means budgeting for extra expenses. The new season also ushers in a change of clothes, home improvements and yard clean up.
Here are five helpful money strategies to make the rest of the year count.
1. Go closet shopping. Ever feel tempted to head to the mall and buy new clothes because you just have “nothing” to wear? Check out your closet and bring the cold weather clothes to the front before swiping your card. Remember to try old clothes on to make sure everything still fits, and donate appropriately.
2. Add holidays into your budget. Say you've followed your winter, spring and summer budget perfectly, then don't forget that Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and New Year's Eve are just around the corner. It's easy to blow your budget on these holidays, so if you haven't already, plan for them now. Consider starting a Holiday savings account now to prepare your finances for next year.
3. Up your 401K. If you can afford another percent from your paycheck, why not up your retirement contribution? The more you save now, the more tax benefits AND the less you have to worry about the future. Throw another percent at it and watch it grow.
4. Spend your FSA dollars. Use it or lose it. You've already saved this money, so don't leave it on the table. If you don’t use it, it's your money you're throwing away, not your employer's!
5. Plan to use your vacation days. Using your vacation days is key to living a successful, balanced life. Even if you have a staycation, it's critical to use your well-deserved days off. If you plan now, you can even save for a weekend getaway before the end of the year.
Life is all about balance. As the weather turns colder, it's a great time to reflect on the money progress you've made throughout the past year and start focusing on small wins to finish the year right.