Your October 2012 Financial To-Dos

"Bittersweet October. The mellow, messy, leaf-kicking, perfect pause between the opposing miseries of summer and winter."

Don't judge us for quoting Carol Bishop Hipps--there's something about October. Maybe it's the fact that we're finally, indisputably ensconced in autumn. Maybe it's the fact that we can break out the cable-knit, go apple-picking and pumpkin-gathering, and brew hot chocolate with a clear conscience.

Once you have that hot chocolate firmly in hand, turn your attention to your October financial to-dos: From health insurance to trick-or-treaters, we've got you covered.

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Take Advantage of Open Enrollment. Deadline: Wed, Oct. 3

Open enrollment is the period when you're allowed to select your health care plans for the next year. If your health insurance is through your employer, check with HR immediately (seriously: now!) to make sure you know when your employer offers open enrollment. As an example, Medicare is holding open enrollment October 15-December 7th for 2013 benefits. Don't be shy about asking HR or other experts for guidance--refusing to ask is one of the most common and critical mistakes a person can make during open enrollment. We also have information on how to approach open enrollment and what not to miss.

Plan Halloween. Deadline: Wed, Oct. 10

The last-minute hustle for costumes/candy/decorations in the last week of October is a dream come true for retailers, but a nightmare for us ("I'm a ... sleepy person in pajamas?"). Take your Halloween plans into account now and start laying the groundwork: Look for sales on candy for trick-or-treaters, figure out exactly what you'll need for a costume if you're wearing one and start hunting down the pieces. And, of course, survey your options to buy the most affordable pumpkin-turned-jack-o-lantern. By getting things under control now, you'll avoid the rush--and the spending!--later.

Assert Yourself. Deadline: Wed, Oct. 17

We all know that we're allowed to negotiate for a raise, or with jewelry vendors on the street. But there are many more opportunities to get the best price. Since we're spending a little more time inside, why not put it to good use? These five surprising things to negotiate (gym memberships!) are a good place to start. For more information on what to negotiate and exactly how to do it, sign up for our free Cut Your Costs Bootcamp, which will help you shrink your bills and find a little money to spare.

Reassess Your Budget. Deadline: Mon, Oct. 22

Go to the LV Money Center to make sure you’re sticking to your current budget. You may have readjusted over the summer for vacation spending (this is how not to blow your vacation budget), so make sure you reallocate your funds for fall spending, whether that means textbooks, back-to-school wardrobes (more on back-to-school budgeting) or increased IRA contributions. Adjust your numbers if your income, goals or lifestyle has changed.

Batten Down the Hatches. Deadline: Wed, Oct. 31

By October, you can't deny that winter is coming. Before things get too cold (or wet, depending on where you're living), get your winter chores out of the way. Depending on your situation, you might want to:

  • Bring in patio furniture
  • Buy or find snow tires
  • Try on family winter coats and boots and find rogue gloves, hats and scarves
  • Adjust your utilities budget in The Money Center to accommodate heating costs
  • Get firewood

And don't forget to look into what you should be buying this month in the guide below:

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