The holidays are coming up and that means that dealing with your money is about to feel like a magic trick. Last week we gave the budget an overview with a few specifics in mind. This week we are going to look at the areas where you can improve. If you start planning to reduce how often you dine out, prevent splurging (make a wish list, which will make it easier for others to get you something), cut down on travel costs, and other areas where you could be saving.

When you have a half hour or so to think about your summer, consider the things that you did. Now think about how your summer has changed your routine. Have you become a little too comfortable spending money on things that you don’t need? Has the summer-time splurge leaked into your daily or weekly activities? Here are a few of the biggest offenders as people finish re-adjusting to being back to the regular routine.

Food

Most people either get accustomed to dining out after a summer full of fun. Getting back into making lunches and dinners can be difficult (don’t even bring up breakfast). But this can be one of the biggest drains on your account, money that you could be putting toward a great vacation (which is what you really deserve). There are also the little treats you’ve been buying yourself in the grocery store. Once or twice is a treat, once or twice a week is really a regular waste of money. Try to stick to the necessities.

Getting Around

Something that most of us do in the summer is get a bit too accustomed to going places in the most convenient ways possible. This summer was particularly brutal temperature-wise, making you prefer driving your air-conditioned car to any other method of transportation. With the weather returning to a more agreeable temperature range, it’s time to start taking public transportation. Of course, not going out on so many outings is also a great way to reduce how much you are spending on travel.

Fees

You may have taken on a bit of extra debt over the summer to move, vacation, buy something you’ve been wanting, or just because. You probably did not read the fine print. Now is the time to go through your new loans, credit cards, and other debt to see just what you are paying for. If you upgraded your phone, check out the costs. I recently bought the new iphone, and out of habit checked my bill. I expected it to go up just under $30, it was nearly $70 more expensive because the person in the store slapped on a lot of extras without talking to me about it. While you are at it, take a look at your bank statements to see if you are getting charged for extras that you aren’t using. It may be time to change what kind of account you have, or it may be time to switch banks.

High Energy Costs

We all tend to get a little more lax when it comes to summer time spending, including our power bills. We’ve already bitten the bullet and accepted that AC is costly, so what’s a little more? Well, your AC isn’t running as much, but your other habits probably haven’t changed. This is the time of year when you can have the smallest power bills, so take advantage of it. Turn off the ice maker, don’t turn on lights when there is enough natural light in a room, turn off computers that aren’t in use, and shut off your AC (see if you can get by without it now – opening the windows and using a fan are probably effective enough).

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