The sights and scents of fall are all around...beautiful red and yellow foliage, bright orange pumpkins, festive mums, hayrides, apple pie in the oven, refreshing breezes, smoky campfires.
And while many of us welcome this cool change from the summer heat, it’s also a reminder that the chill of winter is not far away. Now is the perfect time to make your home feel warm and cozy for fall, while also taking some small measures early on to begin preparing for the impending winter.
Consider this an exercise in practicality, aesthetics, and festivity. For many people, starting at back-to-school time through Halloween and Thanksgiving, then into the winter holidays, their home is the hub...a landing spot and gathering place for friends and family; study groups and get-togethers; meetings and parties; work and play. By following some simple money tips you can make your space safe and welcoming as you enter the fall season, and the activity picks up.
So get ready to roll up your sleeves and invest a few days (and maybe a few dollars) in “Fallifying” your home – then sit back, relax, and enjoy the crisp autumn air with a pumpkin spice latte in hand!
Fall Into Autumn with 5 Simple Steps
Fall is a great time to clean up from the summer growing season and prep for next spring while also adding some of the vibrant autumn colors to your beds and displays. Some good fall landscaping advice to follow includes:
- Feeding the grass with a high-phosphorus mix.
- Mowing for the last time this season to 1 ¼ inches.
- Raking leaves and using them to start a compost pile for next season’s fertilizer.
- Trim existing trees and shrubs, plant new shrubs, cut back perennials, and plant spring bulbs. The best time to plant anything new is 6 weeks before the first frost.
- If you have any new plants, add mulch to the beds for protection.
- Plant some fall perennials like pansies, or cool-season vegetables like lettuce, cabbage, carrots, and broccoli.
Now that the summer has ended, the kids are back to school, and there’s a return to routine, it’s a great time to devote a few hours to a fall clean-up. Take a lap throughout your home, inside and out, paying special attention to closets, the garage, the patio, and the porch. Stow away things like pool gear or yard tools and furniture that’s no longer being used. Set up organized storage systems for tools and supplies like batteries and flashlights, to make for easy access during the cold winter months. Also create garage space for your car if you usually keep it there during the wintertime.
One good way to stay clean and organized indoors (especially with kids or pets) is with a mudroom. If you already have one, think about giving it a mini makeover with some handy new shelves and hooks. If you don’t have one, but have some extra space this might be a good idea for a small fall project.
With the days getting shorter, you may find you’re in need of some extra landscape lighting to illuminate the driveway, walkway, backyard, and garden. Not only will this add ambiance and interest to your outdoor space, it will also allow for fall entertaining after dark and provide a greater sense of security.
On the subject of lighting, a few other smart places to install extra lighting in preparation for long winter nights are the garage, the shed, and the attic if you have one.
With a possible influx of visitors during the upcoming holiday season, you want to maximize your home’s welcoming potential with some smart curb appeal while also keeping things warm and toasty inside. From the front door to the seasonal décor, you can create the ultimate autumnal oasis.
Start by reinforcing the seals and insulation on your front door and windows. Then make some fresh updates with new locks, trim, window treatments, and a welcome mat.
Once these kind of practical changes are complete, think about sprucing up your fall motif. Keep it simple with a few pumpkins and chrysanthemums (the quintessential fall flowers), and maybe throw in a hay bale and a couple of scarecrows. This is a great way to get kids involved – they might enjoy helping you out with some container planting, or adding their personal touch by picking out or even creating some homemade Halloween decorations.
Adding a new fireplace or revamping an existing one can add value, interest, and warmth to your home. A beautiful fireplace and hearth can transform your house into a home, and create a special place for loved ones to gather, and memories to be made. At the same time it can keep you warm in the late fall and winter, and help cut your utility bills significantly.
By using a supplemental source of heat like a fireplace, you can actually decrease the use of your traditional heater. For example, if you have electric heat, a gas fire place or wood burning stove can provide enough warmth to allow you to actually turn your heater off. You will incur an initial cost to purchase and install the unit, but a significant savings going forward. On average, an alternate heat source can result in a $100-$300 cut in your monthly energy bill.
If your old fireplace is in need of some TLC, you can make some simple upgrades with new tiles, stone, and doors in order to bring it up to date, and back to being the focal point it once was.
Keep in mind that when making certain energy-efficient purchases and changes in your home, you may be eligible for federal tax credits. Plus, your credit union can help fund fall projects with a low-rate personal or home equity loan, some even offering added incentives like home improvement gift cards and the like – check with them before getting started. Good luck and Happy Fall!
By Cyndi Cohen
Published September 17, 2014
Credit Unions Online