Tuesday, October 30, 2012

5 Ways to Have Frugal Family Fun During the Fall - (Guest Blogger Post)

I am pleased to publish this piece on behalf of Matt and Stephen of NerdWallet

5 Ways to Have Frugal Family Fun During the Fall

Looking for fun fall activities the whole family can enjoy? To many, autumn is the most beautiful time of year. Cool weather and vibrant, variegated leaves make the season pleasant for outdoor excursions. With a cornucopia of natural splendor, fall is rife with fulfilling entertainment opportunities that don't require much (if any) money. Here are 5 ways to have frugal family fun this autumn.

There is no better time of year to go on a family hike. You may have to bundle up a bit as the season deepens, but there are few things more refreshing than a lungful of crisp autumn air. Many communities host annual fall hiking sprees, which is always a great way to explore your home's natural treasures while spending quality time with the family. Teach the kids to identify leaves and send them on a scavenger hunt to find as many different types and colors as possible. Let them take their best leaf home and preserve it with a simple water and glycerin solution. 

Fall is perfect for bonfires. The weather is just right, and you don't have to worry about the pesky mosquitoes that plague and ruin so many summer fires. Have the kids help gather sticks and show them how to build a proper fire. Bonfires make a great setting for a number of activities. You can roast marshmallows and hotdogs, read scary stories and play or listen to music.

Leaf pile
The simple pleasures are what make life worth living. Raking leaves is hard work, but the joy your children get from jumping in the piles make it well worth the toil of the chore. This is also a good opportunity to put the kids to work. Have them help out with raking--it will make the end reward that much more satisfactory. While the kids are frolicking, sit back and crack open a pumpkin ale or heat up a mug of apple cider. 

Make Caramel Apples
Caramel apples are one of autumn's trademark foods. They're both delicious and cheap. You need only red apples, soft caramels, milk, peanuts (optional) and skewers. Start by removing the stems from the apples. In place of the stems, jam the skewers down inside. Melt the caramel together with a little milk (a pound of caramel and 2 tbsp of milk is about right). Roll the apples in the caramel and sprinkle with crushed peanuts. Let them sit on a sheet of wax paper until the caramel hardens.  

Harvest Festivals
Many communities and churches put on fall festivals that are often free to attend. See if any such events are taking place in your neighborhood. You and your family can enjoy hayrides, bonfires, storytelling, cider, snacks and live music. If you make it an annual event, your kids will begin looking forward to it every year. There is no better family setting for frugal fall fun.

Stephen writes for NerdWallet, a financial literacy site dedicated to helping consumers save money on both important fiscal decisions and everyday spending. His current project is tracking the best deals of Black Friday 2012.

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