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15 Must Do Fall Finance Tips

Three months ago you worked on your Mid Year Checkup [1]. How time flies! Another quarter later, and it’s time to prepare your finances for fall. Here’s 15 more tips to get your finances in shape:

1. File your taxes. What? Didn’t we do that back in April? Not so if you got an extension. Your return is due on Wednesday, October 15. If you are self employed there’s still time to save on taxes. [2]

2. Prepare your home for winter. 29 tips to get you started [3] and a few to lower your heating bill [4], too.

3. Use remaining flexible spending account money. Spend it now instead of waiting until the end of the year. It’s one less thing you’ll need to do around the holidays.

4. Increase retirement contributions. We’re all seeing our 401ks take a dip. Why not add some more money while the market is on sale? Increase your savings rate by 1% and it will help offset some of the losses.

5. Dump loser stocks. Make your losses count. As long as the market is down, you might as well lock in some losses [5] for your tax return. You might want to double-check your asset allocation too, after the recent turn in the market.

6. Make your gift giving list. Get a jump start on your holiday shopping. Watch for items on sale, keep an eye on Slickdeals [6], FatWallet [7], and Amazon [8] and scoop up the items on your list early. Need ideas? Here are 28 gift ideas that save money for the recipient [9].

7. Make a budget for the holidays. Enjoy a simple Christmas with a well-planned budget [10]. You’ll save yourself money and stress.

8. Winterize your motors. Take care of any motors that won’t be used… boats, cycles, etc. Look into insurance savings options if the vehicle will not be driven and placed in storage for the winter.

9. Enjoy frugal activities for fall. Leaf peeping, apple orchards, and pumpkin farms are fun, frugal, fall activities for the family.

10. Stock up on fruit sales. Hit the end of summer sales and stock up on anything that will be more expensive over the winter and freeze it. Need to know what to buy? Check out a helpful list of fresh fruits and vegetables by the month [11].

11. Purge your summer clothes. Donate, eBay, or drop clothes at a consignment shop if you won’t wear them again.

12. Hit the lawn sales. Not actual yard sales, but end of season sales on stuff for your yard: lawn equipment, patio furniture, pool toys, and other summer merchandise on deep discount.

13. Plan for your summer vacation. For next year. Start saving in a sub-account at ING [12] and set up an alert in Travelocity [13] to watch airfare prices.

14. Enroll in flexible spending and dependent care accounts. Any day now, you’ll probably get enrollment materials for 2009 from your employer. Figure out how much you’ll need in your accounts and turn in your deferral forms. In addition, watch for health and dental open enrollments.

15. Plan ahead for the new year. Will you be one of millions to sign up for a gym membership or weight-loss plan in January? See if you can get a cheaper price to sign up now. In addition, the exercise will help you with holiday stress.