Your Fall Financial Checklist: 17 Things To Do Now

Looking for fall financial tips and money moves to complete before the year is over? The hot summer months are over for many of us, and there are only a few months left in the year. Today, I want to talk about fall money tips, smart money moves, and having a fall financial checklist to…

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Last Updated: June 17, 2024

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Looking for fall financial tips and money moves to complete before the year is over?

The hot summer months are over for many of us, and there are only a few months left in the year.

Today, I want to talk about fall money tips, smart money moves, and having a fall financial checklist to help you make fall a productive and good season.

This is a great time to start thinking about what you can do to save some money, prepare for the following months, and improve your life.

The tasks on this fall financial checklist will help you to remember to sign up for health insurance, prepare your home for winter, gather important documents, beef up your retirement savings, not miss out on employee benefits (hello, paid time off!), and more.

Of course, not everything on this list will apply to each of you, but this checklist can be a good place to start.

Here is my fall financial checklist.

Figure out your health insurance

Open enrollment for 2024 through the Health Insurance Marketplace (HealthCare.gov) starts on Monday, November 1 and you have to enroll by December 15, 2023 for coverage that starts January 1, 2024.

Or, if you have private health insurance or health insurance through your employer, you will want to find out what important dates you need to sign up by or get information to them by, so that you do not miss out.

I recommend doing as much research as you can now to make sure that you have the best health insurance plan for you and your family.

I do not recommend waiting until the last moment, as you will probably be quite busy with the holidays and this can add a lot of stress.

Max out your retirement savings

Have you maxed out your retirement savings for this year? Now is the time to hop on this fall money move.

Even if you can’t max it out, see if there’s any more that you can contribute to your savings and retirement funds.

Prepare your home for colder months

Depending on where you live, the fall months may usually mean pleasant weather. However, what follows next can be quite cold, and can lead to home repairs if you’re not careful.

I always think it’s best to do a little preparing now, so that you don’t have a costly repair or replacement needed later.

Plus, many things around your home may simply work better if they are prepped a little bit.

Here are tasks you can start to get your home ready:

  • Inspect, tune-up your heating system, change filters
  • Clear your gutters
  • Test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
  • Clean your chimney and/or fireplace
  • Insulate your windows
  • Install a programmable thermostat
  • Reverse ceiling fans so that heat is pushed down

And much more. Every house is different so your own home may have a different winter home maintenance checklist.

Budget for the holiday season

The holidays are right around the corner.

With Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, and many other holidays, the holiday season can be expensive.

If you haven’t yet, I recommend:

  • Creating a holiday budget. For example, how much do you plan on spending on gifts, travel, and costumes this year?
  • Start saving money for the holidays, if you haven’t done so yet.
  • Find ways to make extra money, if you think your budget is cutting it close.

Build an emergency binder for you and your family

No matter what time of year it is, I recommend jumping on this as soon as you can if you have not done so yet.

An emergency binder is a way to store financial information, such as health insurance, financial accounts, where to find certain documents, medical, and more. 

I recommend having an emergency binder if:

  • You have a family
  • You have children
  • You are single – this is because someone will have to handle your affairs if something were to happen to you, and they’ll most likely have no clue as to where to start. The binder can guide them.

This can be useful in non-emergencies as well. Creating a binder like this organizes all your family’s information in one place. It makes finding any piece of information quick and easy, and you’ll probably refer to it often.

The In Case of Emergency Binder can help you with creating your own emergency binder. This is a 90+ page fillable PDF workbook.

 

Find life insurance

Since we are talking about insurance, looking at life insurance is extremely important if you do not have this yet.

Plus, life insurance is probably something you can afford. I did a quick search for life insurance, and I was able to find a $1,000,000 policy for 20 years, for less than $30 per month.

Life insurance is money for your family if you were to pass away. And, if you are the sole or primary earner in your family, then there are probably a lot of people who rely on you financially.

Life insurance is money that can be used to pay for funeral expenses, day-to-day bills, pay off debt, etc.

Use your paid time off

Do you have vacation days from your employer that will expire at the end of the year or days that can’t be cashed out?

If so, make a plan to use them!

Back when I had paid vacation days, and I wanted to use them, I would sometimes take Fridays off and turn my weekends into long weekends.

Then, I would save some days for the very last week of the year, in case I got sick and needed to turn them into sick days. If I wasn’t sick, then I had a nice holiday vacation too!

Or, maybe you just want to take a full week off. Just make sure you use your paid vacation days and don’t let them go to waste.

Review your free credit report

You can receive one annual free credit report from the three main credit bureaus (Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian).

Yes, this means that you get one from each, so three each year. I recommend spacing them out so you can get one every four months.

You can read more about this here

Find cheaper car insurance

Shopping around for car insurance is something that most people do not do, and it can cost you tens of thousands of dollars over your lifetime.

By simply comparing insurance rates, you may be able to save over $1,000 yearly.

A family member of mine had been paying around $2,200 a year for quite some time, until I reviewed their budget and noticed that they were significantly overpaying for car insurance.

I easily helped them find car insurance with better coverage for just $600 a year. They were able to save around $1,600 in less than 30 minutes. They were completely shocked, and I’m sure they were a little upset that they had wasted so much money over the years.

You can shop car insurance rates through Get Jerry here.

Have a money meeting

With it being a new season, it is a great time to have a money meeting.

During your fall money meeting, you may want to talk about topics such as:

  • How much debt is there currently? Has it gone up or down?
  • Are you spending more or less money than the same time last year, or the same time last month?
  • What money goals are you working towards? What goals do you want to work towards instead?
  • Is the current household budget still realistic? Or, does it need to be updated?
  • What changes should be made to improve your financial situation?
  • What can be done to save more for retirement?
  • What money issues are we currently experiencing?

There is no exact outline of what you should talk about in your money meetings because every household is different.

But, the above is a great start and can lead to you and your family discussing other related money topics.

Stop paying for cable TV

Do you still pay for cable?

Perhaps you’re trying to save money, such as for the holidays, or maybe you simply find that cable TV is not worth it for you.

If you’re trying to find ways to cut your budget, and you have an expensive TV bill, I recommend finding an alternative.

You can read more about the different cable TV alternatives at 16 Alternatives To Cable TV That Will Save You Money.

Find a rewards credit card

Do you earn rewards with your credit card?

Using a rewards credit card means that you can gain points that you can use to get cheap travel or cash back. You can earn airline tickets, gift cards, hotel stays, cash, etc., all for simply using your credit card.

If you are going to pay for something anyway, then you might as well get something for free out of it, right?

If you travel a lot and/or already use credit cards, then signing up for the ones with the best rewards can help you earn free travel or cash back.

Two cards I recommend include:

Apply for an online job

For some families, you may have waited to find a new job until your children were back in school and you had more available free time.

If that’s the case, here is a list of online jobs that may interest you:

More fall financial to-dos

In case you’re looking for more fall financial tasks, here are four more:

  • If you received an extension on your tax return, make sure you complete and file it. You have until October 16, 2023.
  • If you have flexible spending account funds that expire at the end of the year, make sure you use it.
  • Get your car ready for the winter, which may include replacing wiper blades, getting an oil change, changing tires, and more.
  • Donate warm clothing that you haven’t worn in a while. If you haven’t worn some of your spring and summer clothing this year, then you may want to see what you can donate now that it’s getting colder.

What’s on your fall financial to-do list? What other fall financial tips do you have to share?


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Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Author: Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Hey! I’m Michelle Schroeder-Gardner and I am the founder of Making Sense of Cents. I’m passionate about all things personal finance, side hustles, making extra money, and online businesses. I have been featured in major publications such as Forbes, CNBC, Time, and Business Insider. Learn more here.

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  1. David @ Filled With Money

    Great tips! I especially like the one about using paid time off. Employees lose billions of dollars in benefits by not taking PTO. Companies gave out PTO for a reason, it’s time to take advantage.

  2. Charles Rush

    Great post Michelle, very practical and I’m really enjoying your blog.

  3. I definitely need to get on the emergency binder situation. I fall in the single category so this hasn’t been at the front of my mind, and I guess I try not to think about the very possible things that can happen to me on a day-to-day basis.

    Thanks for this post and the reminder that I should get my affairs in order!

  4. Jasmine

    Great post– I have this bookmarked under a Financial Wellness folder. I’m surprised that so many things on my own list made it to yours. The emergency binder item definitely makes sense, as does the life insurance— how fitting since it’s Life Insurance Awareness month! I’m pleased to see that other things make up your checklist, not only making smart money moves. Thanks!