Monday, October 10, 2011

Frugal Fall-Sort of

Every season has it's own frugal advantages (and disadvantages).  Way back in March, I shared why I thought Spring was an especially frugal season, in terms of frugal enjoyment and entertainment and lowered utility costs, just to name a few.

Now fall has slowly entered the scene here in Texas.  As with many things in life, the seasons are relative depending on location.  Here in Dallas, fall means that while it's still eighties during the day, our nights have cooled to as low as sixty. We still enjoy outside activities and many college students still are wearing shorts to classes. I can again sit out and enjoy my patio from early in the morning to late and night, and our frost will probably not be before the end of November. Nevertheless, images of pumpkins abound, as do fall festivals and other signs of fall.

I'm not the only one thinking about fall, frugally or otherwise. Lot's of blogs about the advent of fall, including this one by Bill Birnbaum.  When it comes to myself, as always, I try and look for the frugal benefit of each season, and fall is no exception.  Of course, there are always a few non frugal benefits to any season.

The biggest frugal change is that my utility bills usage drops like a stone.  After two months of triple digit days, my air conditioning has met it's match. Even with utility averaging, monthly costs were rising. The next couple of months will feature much lowered cooling bills, with the screen doors open as much as possible (note: in Texas the summer is always more expensive than the winter. After all, we live in the middle of oil and natural gas). We will use the air conditioning on occasion (we don't get enough of a breeze from leaving windows open alone), but not to any previous extent.

I get to cook more "frugally friendly meals". Because of the heat and air conditioning (and just because we like to grill), much of our summer fare is things like grilled chicken breasts and chops.We rely extensively on my extreme cocooning skills to keep groceries low. Once I can get out the slow cooker and occasionally use the oven, I am able to cook cheaper cuts of meats and cheaper meals such as soups and stews. Upcoming menus include chicken with wine, deviled short ribs, sausage stew and homemade soup. Mixed in with those options are still many salads and items cooked on the grill, but now I grill when I want, not because it's too hot inside.

In the same vein, it's fall vegetable time.  While I don't love squash, apples and pumpkins and other veggies are widely available now, and many so called summer vegetables still are plentiful. Pumpkins and apples and carrots and other vegetables make wonderful low cost meals-and it's also time for preserving those things as well, both for me and for gifts.

It's fall festival time. There have been some various Oktoberfest celebrations (entertainment for the price of a beer),  as well as many fall craft and school fairs  (cheap entertainment and low cost gifts). Further afield are more festivals, and if I wish to travel day trip opportunities abound at this time of year. Simply by driving south into hill country for a day, I can see the leaves turn every color under the sun (literally) for the price of a partial tank of gas and my packed lunch.  Everywhere you look there's a pumpkin patch with scarecrow, often offering a hay ride for pennies.

I can, again, exercise outdoors. During the summer it was impossible to walk daily in the weather, requiring me to pay for the local facility or else walk in the mall. I am frugal because I don't go to malls. Enough said.

Seasonally updating and decorating is easy at this time of year. It's easy to find or buy things in fall colors. A trip to the pumpkin patch and a trip to the backyard along with some seasonal candy make easy updates to my house. It's totally refreshed for a new season.

Fall will, hopefully, be the most successful season in terms of making money, both in the book and quilting business. I already have an order for twenty five sets of coasters for a client to give to the people on her staff. I hope to cash in on the Christmas gift market - by having lots of low cost items available in my shop by November first.

Last but not least, it wouldn't be fair if I didn't mention a few completely unfrugal reasons I like the fall. First and foremost, it's football and baseball playoff season.  What this love has to do with frugality I am unsure-other than the fact that if I am hunkered down in front of the TV with my popcorn and soda, I'm not out shopping.  The other wonderful thing about fall is that the children are in school again.  Sorry parents, it's nothing personal-I just look forward to shopping on the weekdays or enjoying the library without the pitter patter of young feet. I enjoyed the sound of those feet during the summer, but now I'm ready for a little peace and quiet.

What about you-is fall a frugal season or not?  What's the most frugal season for you?

2 comments:

  1. I love fall - what we have of it. I'm in Houston and was so sick of the triple digits - I look forward to a double digit electric bill again! This summer was way too hot for me.
    not sure how frugal I am in fall compared to the other months but I know the electric is a lot better outside of summer! I enjoy cooking more when it's cooler so hopefully I wont' be tempted to eat out as much. exercise is also easier to motivate for when it's cooler.
    Susanna

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