Come autumn, do the aromas of cinnamon, nutmeg, and pumpkin spices drifting from various mall retailers tempt you to buy $5 gourmet coffee drinks and overpriced candles for your home? Are you eerily lured by Halloween displays at stores everywhere to spend your hard-earned money on pricey decorations? Yes, folks, fall is upon us and that means more occasions to spend money on seasonal items that you may only need until the end of October. Thankfully, there are ways to enjoy the season without going over your single parent budget this time around.
- Boycott Starbucks. First off, this coffee hot spot is overrated—and overpriced. Did you know you can bring in your own coffee mug and purchase a pumpkin spice latte from a 7/11 coffee machine for only $1.25? You can also look up recipes online for homemade pumpkin spice breads and coffee drinks to make at home.
- Avoid buying pumpkins at a fancy pumpkin patch. Instead, buy pumpkins at stores like Sprouts or even Home Depot for the best deals, sometimes as a low as $4 for an extra-large carving pumpkin. In fact, next year, grow your own pumpkins for almost free.
- Make your own costume rather than purchase an expensive one that will fall apart after one wearing. Find costume pieces on sale, borrow items from friends, scour the thrift stores, and take advantage of fabric and craft store coupons. Don’t rule out chain stores like Party City, where you can find wigs in a full spectrum of colors for as low as $8.
- Save money on gas by carpooling out to the country for an idyllic fall adventure, but don’t buy apples at a costly “pick-your-own” fruit farm where you might pay an upwards of $20 or more for a small sack of apples. As an alternative, pack your own picnic lunch and bake your own pie with apples from nearby grocery stores for as low as 88 cents a pound.
- If you are truly strapped for cash, turn off the porch light on October 31, or if you are not that stingy, set a limit for candy costs this year (and restrain yourself from running to the grocery store when you run out). Buy candy or fruit snacks at dollar stores or pretzel packs in bulk at warehouse stores to pass out to trick-or-treaters.
- Skip buying expensive fall home décor that you will only use for a few weeks now through Thanksgiving. Alternatively, use gold spray paint or glitter to add elegant touches to natural items like leaves, pine cones, and gourds for crafty home décor projects that you can enjoy making with your children.
- Simmer cinnamon sticks, cloves, and orange slices for a pleasing aroma in the house rather than buy expensive fall-themed candles that can easily cost $20 each.
- For outdoor Halloween decorations, make a ghost to hang on your front porch using old sheets or fabric and scour the stores on November 1 for deeply discounted sales on Halloween decorations for next year.
With a little ingenuity, you can resist the temptation to spend as you tighten up your budget this autumn to make way for more important seasonal expenses like Thanksgiving and Christmas—the two biggies that are right around the corner, believe it or not!