Ladies, where are my fellow fall lovers at? I think I can speak for most of us when I say we twentysomething-year-olds like to hit fall — hard. We commit to celebrating our favorite season in a myriad of ways. Our love for autumn can be reflected in what we wear, what we eat, what we drink (you know what I’m talking about, here) and more… We just get fall and fall gets us. The only bad part? Food, drinks, outfits and fall activities all cost money.
So what do you do when you find yourself headed into your very favorite time of year with an incredibly limited budget? Answer: You get creative. There are a ton of ways to celebrate the coolest season without spending a ton of cash. It shouldn’t take you long to discover all the best parts of celebrating fall are actually free. (Go figure, right?)
1. Go to a pumpkin patch (but put your wallet away)
Visiting pumpkin patches can be like, the most fun. You get to wander around, seeking out the perfect pumpkin to take home and carve, sometimes there are bonus activities like corn mazes or hay rides, and there’s usually tons of delicious fall treats available. So yes, all that stuff costs money, BUT most pumpkin patches don’t cost a dime if you just show up and walk around. You can still have a fun afternoon soaking up that awesome fall atmosphere, taking some cute pics for Snapchat and Instagram, and splurging $2 for a fresh cup of hot cider (the perfect accessory for your pics).
2. DIY seasonal decorations for your house
Half the fun of seasonal changes is having an excuse to jazz up your house accordingly. However, if you’ve ever wandered over to Target or Home Goods with the intention of picking up a few festive things to decorate, you know that it’s difficult to do without going into a spontaneous spending coma and discovering $450 is suddenly missing from your bank account. Oops.
Buying seasonal decorations can be a huge monetary commitment, so go the cheaper route! DIY some cute things for your place. You can totally go simple and cut ghosts and goblins out of construction paper and paste ‘em around kindergarten-style (#vintage!), or you can class-it-up and make super cute wine cork pumpkins or a homemade bunting. Get crafty! Pinterest is crawling with suggestions.
3. Go hiking
One of the best parts of fall is honestly the feeling of crunching leaves beneath your feet. Getting to be outside, breathing in that crisp, chilly air while traipsing around in the leaves is the best. The beautiful thing about that experience is that it’s 100% free.
A walk around your neighborhood will give you the same feels, but why not make a whole day of it and find a local hiking trail? Pack up some water and snacks, and head for the closest mountain. Obviously, an Instagram photo shoot isn’t off the table.
4. Stream your own spooky Halloween marathon
There are tons of lists of must-see Halloween movies out there, but those $4.99 iTunes rentals can really add up when you’re trying to check off your list. Try creating a marathon of your own based on what’s available on your streaming accounts. Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime are all chock-full of both cheesy and classic horror movies to choose from. There’s plenty of spookiness available around you that won’t cost you any extra money. Invite all your friends over on a Saturday night and stream ’em back-to-back-to-back.
5. Pumpkin Spice your own latte
You can be your own Prince Charming and you can make your own pumpkin spice latte. It’s not cheap to give in to your frequent PSL urges. Five bucks a day every day of fall is straight-up hundreds of dollars. But when you crave that ~taste of fall~, how can you resist?! Well, if you’re a true PSL junkie, you’ll take it however you can get it. You can spend $10 at the grocery store on coffee and pumpkin spice creamer and that’ll last ya all autumn long.
You’ll transform your simple AM coffee into something celebratory and special. It’s not a Starbucks PSL — hell, it’s not even an L — but it’ll satisfy your pumpkin tooth for sure.
6. Go thrifting for a new fall wardrobe
No seasonal transition is complete without some wardrobe updates. This ain’t cheap! BUT it certainly can be if you’re willing to put forth the effort. Spend the afternoon leisurely thrift shopping for warm, baggy sweaters and broken-in lace-up boots. You can load up legit a shopping cart full of clothes for under $50 if you’re patient enough to dig through all the crap.
Not only will your new wardrobe be cheap AF, it’ll also be unique, which is certainly a plus in a sea of identical Forever 21 outfits.
7. Check out the local breweries and cider houses
There’s something spectacular about autumn brews of adult beverages. They’re all so crisp and warm and delicious. And it’s pretty dang easy to sample some for no money. Tours of breweries and cider houses are usually free, plus there are almost always multiple free samples available.
So you get a fun way to spend an afternoon, plus an excuse to taste all that fall has to offer. And if you splurge on a case or growler of your favorite brew to take home, it’ll be totally worth it.
8. Visit local haunt spots
Every town has plenty of its own spooky history. A quick Google search will tell you everything you need to know. For a cheap thrill, take a walk through one of these cool locations and freak yourself out. It’ll get you in the mood for Halloween for sure but bring a friend or two for safety. You never know what ghosts are lurking!
9. Binge watch a show that gives you that warm, Autumn feeling
We all have that show that just seems especially appropriate to watch when this time of year rolls around. A lot of people cite Gilmore Girls as their fav show for autumn re-watching (it seems like it’s always fall in Stars Hollow), but I’m more partial to Felicity or Six Feet Under for that crisp, autumn feeling.
It doesn’t have to be Halloween-themed or have anything to do with fall, just as long as something about it feels perfectly traditional for this time of year.
10. Go apple picking
Much like pumpkin patches, it’s usually free to show up at an apple orchard. You pay for what you pick. It’s worth the price of the bag just to have something productive and fun to do outside with friends. Plus, when you get home you can start stocking up on apple recipes to fill up your freezer to last you all winter! Apple pie for everyone!
11. Try some baking
Speaking of apples, baking during this time of year is awesome. Once your staple ingredients are stocked up, it’s cheap to bake with whatever is in season. Pies, crumbles, tarts, muffins, cookies… the possibilities are endless, and you can always give them out to co-workers or freeze extras if you’re overstocked. It’ll keep your apartment toasty, too.
12. YouTube nostalgic Halloween clips
Nostalgia is completely free! Think back to the good ol’ days of morning cartoons, and try to remember which shows or movies got you extra pumped this time of year. I was into the Olsen Twins’ classic Double, Double Toil and Trouble and — duh — Hocus Pocus. Since we can no longer just saunter over to Blockbuster and pour over aisles and aisles of our old favorites, sometimes you have to do some internet hunting to find what you want to watch. Even 30-second clips from back in the day will get your nostalgia sensors tingling and make you wish you were still young enough to trick or treat.
So many Disney shows had classic Halloween episodes and a lot of the time, you can find full episodes on YouTube. Score!
13. Take lots of leaf pics
There are few things in nature more photogenic than fall (okay, I’m speaking as a New Englander). If you live within moderate walking or driving distance to some place with really great foliage, definitely take advantage of it. There are so many IG likes to be had from a series of good autumnal photos. Treat this season like a one-of-a-kind backdrop for your photos and go nuts.
14. Plan an off-season vacation
As idyllic as it sounds, you’re probably not planning a fall trip to Vermont right now to stay in some cute B&B; if you’re on a tight budget. But that doesn’t mean the most glorious of seasons can’t be without a memorable trip. As the weather gets cooler, check out vacation spots that are typically very popular during the summer months. Coastal beach towns are running much cheaper this time of year, just make sure you visit before everything’s closed for the season.
15. Get into football season
“If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” is an excellent motto to have during football season. This sport is EVERYWHERE once fall hits. It’s all your bae cares about, it’s all the bars bother to play, and fantasy leagues seem to make up, like, 80% of every conversation once September hits. Trying to avoid it is futile, and joining fun groups of people to watch sporting events can actually be a good time. Going to a local game can be just as fun as a professional one, too.
If you’re already into football, even better! It’s a great seasonal hobby to get into when you’re broke since there are tons of sweet house parties you can get in on with just a bag of chips or a 6-pack as the price of admission.
16. Visit a farmers market
You can stretch your dollar much further when you buy produce locally instead of at the supermarket. Farmers markets are open well into October, if not longer, depending on where you live. Take a stroll and pick up what’s in season. Most fruit and veggies can be frozen or canned so you can make sure nothing goes to waste, either. Spend a couple bucks on their coffee brews and hot cider — it’s always good to support small businesses and the local creations of apple cider are some of the best you can find.
17. Buy holiday wine in bulk
Most of us are more than willing to make room for booze in the budget whenever possible. If there’s anything the impending seasons and holidays absolutely need, it’s copious amounts of wine. Save money by buying your celebration wine in bulk. There’s so many reasons for celebrating during the colder months — Halloween, Thanksgiving, eventually Christmas and Hanukkah… get ahead of the game and your wallet by stocking up ahead of time.