A Pumpkin Costs What?!: 4 Fun and Frugal Fall Activities

frugal

I’ve said it before, but I LOVE fall! Gone, well maybe not always in the Midwest, are the dog days of summer and we get to enjoy cooler weather, the changing of leaves and football! We’re always looking for ways to enjoy different activities in the fall as a family, but the challenge is to be frugal while doing so. While there are many things you can do in the fall, I’ve listed some of our favorite frugal fall activities below.

Who Can Celebrate Fall Without Pumpkins?

If you have kids, you know how they like to carve pumpkins before Halloween. I don’t know about where you live, but in Omaha we have a proliferation of what I like to call pumpkin amusement parks. How much does it cost to go to one of these places you ask? At $10-15 per head (including charges for the little ones), the answer may surprise you. So, after stepping foot in the place we’ve already spent $50-75 I’m hesitant to drop another $2 per pound on overpriced pumpkins that I can’t even pick myself. Added on top of that, they have all sorts of attractions and junk food that hike up the bill even higher. By the time you walk out with a pumpkin, you’ve easily spent north of $150 for a freaking pumpkin or two! I don’t think so! We’ve gotten around this by finding several local farms that let you come pick as many pumpkins as you want and get out spending under $10. Heck, you’re doing their work by paying to clear their field!

Make Your Own Frugal Treats

Who doesn’t like to enjoy some treats during the fall? I know our family does. The problem is that if you’re trying to do so frugally you’ll not only find it a challenge, but it can be incredibly unhealthy. I mean, do you really need a caramel apple that has all sorts of junk on it and has calories equal to several meals? Well, get around that by buying your own caramel and putting it on the apples yourself. Doing this cuts the fat off your waist and adds it to your wallet. If you have any other apples leftover, then you can make your own bobbing for apples station in the backyard and have fun with the family. Apples not your thing? Then you could also do things like:

  • Homemade kettle corn
  • Pumpkin shaped cookies
  • Roasted pumpkin seeds

Football!

While I enjoy watching my alma mater on cable TV I enjoy watching football at pretty much any level. I know, it’s a sickness, but it’s a game I enjoy. If you live near a local junior high, high school or smaller college, many have football games on Thursday- Saturday nights and can be a great source of frugal entertainment. We have a high school a few blocks from our house and if it’s not too cold we’ll walk there as a family and take a thermos of hot chocolate and watch the game. The kids love it as it means they get to stay up late and I get my football fix – two birds with one stone in my book!

Take a Look at the Leaves

This last one really applies if you have a lot of trees in your area. That said, we love to go for family drives and look at the leaves that have changed color. Of course, you can choose to only do that, but we like to take it a step further and either bring a meal with us or some coffee for us and hot chocolate for the kids. Not only does this provide for some frugal entertainment but we also get time together as a family too.

 

I know there are many other activities to be enjoyed in the fall, what are some of your favorite fall pastimes?

 

Photo courtesy of: Liz West

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I'm the founder of Frugal Rules, a Dad, husband and veteran of the financial services industry. I'm passionate about helping people learn from my mistakes so that they can enjoy the freedom that comes from living frugally. You can connect via Twitter / Facebook.

63 comments on “A Pumpkin Costs What?!: 4 Fun and Frugal Fall Activities

    • We want to do that ourselves next year. We just need to get around to doing it. My Dad grew them when I was growing up and it was fun to be able to use ones we grew ourselves.

  1. We went to a pumpkin farm yesterday and dropped $57 on a pumpkin, 2 bales of hay, dried corn for decoration, half dozen corn and a huge pot of mums ($25 but well worth it). I must admit the prices were pretty pricey for my liking but we are supporting local farmers. The pumpkin is different than what you would get at the grocery store and rang in at $8.00 which wasn’t so bad. She also suggested to cut the pumpkin into chunks and freeze it for dog treats or if our dog has an upset stomach. So, pumpkins can get pricey for the one day of fun but for the kids it’s memories.
    canadianbudgetbinder recently posted..Grocery budget: Our kids are eating us out of house and homeMy Profile

    • I agree it does create memories, but at $200 I think I’ll look elsewhere. We went to a local farm over the weekend and filled our trunk for $12 and our kids loved it and had a blast.

    • We do as well Laurie. We actually went to a good one when we were in Minnesota last year. It was a bit on the pricey side, but the apples were very good – and I HATE apples!

  2. They are doing a school field trip to a local farm this year, so we get the joy of the pumpkin patch, but for free! This is also the time when we switch from the mountains to the desert. We planned to go to Arches National Park this weekend, but it might still be closed. Regardless, fall is the perfect time to visit Southeast Utah. I love the warm days and cool nights.
    Kim@Eyesonthedollar recently posted..Pros and Cons of Living in a Ski Resort TownMy Profile

  3. I love roasting pumpkin seeds! Pumpkins are insanely overpriced in NYC, so I usually go visit Peach in the fall because he lives near a bunch of farms. Last year the workers started laughing at me when our three pumpkins cost less than one tiny on in NYC and I asked if they had charged correctly. Living around zero nature also makes me miss the fall foliage, but Central Park is a beautiful place to stroll around in the fall.
    Broke Millennial recently posted..A Random Stroll Up Fifth AvenueMy Profile

  4. Nothing changes too much around these parts except for maybe cooler mornings and evening, but I do enjoy the beach a bit more because it’s more peaceful and relaxed with less people. I do love to carve pumpkins and my neighborhood gets a lot of kids for Halloween so I love to pass out candy. I also like to make cheaper soups which last a long time now the my kitchen doesn’t get too hot.
    Budget and the Beach recently posted..My Own “Government Shutdown” & October GoalsMy Profile

  5. I’m a huge fan of fall cooking. I might bake something once or twice for an extra indulgence, but to keep it more healthy I stick to the squashes and soups- leaving out the cream as much as possible.

    I’m excited for the leaves to change. The last few days have been in the 70s here, summer seems to be holding on for dear life. Hopefully, by the time I go upstate in two weeks, it’ll cool down and we’ll have some beautiful colors.
    Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life recently posted..Government Shutdown: Where’s Your Emergency Fund?My Profile

    • We do a lot of that as well Stefanie. We’ve been pulling a lot of stuff out of the garden the last few weeks, which goes perfect with making different stews/soups. Then we freeze the rest and it lasts that much longer.

  6. Awesome ideas! I completely agree with you on the pumpkin patches – skip ‘em! There are lots of places – farms, as you said, and I’ve seen churches and schools, too – that sell pumpkins as a sort of fundraiser. You only have to pay for your pumpkin, no admission fees. Around us there are also a lot of festivals and orchards and farms that are free to get into, which definitely helps the overall price of an outing. I’m happy to grab some apple bread or apple cider donuts, or go to a corn maze for a couple bucks, when I don’t have to pay at the door on top of everything else.
    Kali @CommonSenseMillennial recently posted..Fiscal and Physical Fitness: Two Linked ConceptsMy Profile

  7. Yikes, that is a lot for a pumpkin amusement park! We have those around here too, but we just found a local farm near our new house to purchase pumpkins on the cheap. One of my favorite fall activities is free. We live near the mountains, so we love to go for hikes and see all of the beautiful fall colors.
    Nick @ ayoungpro.com recently posted..Should I Go to Grad School?My Profile

    • I know. I think we could buy half a months worth of groceries just to get a freaking pumpkin. I would love to go hiking…sadly Nebraska is as flat as they get. ;)

    • It’s sad how the shenanigans in DC impacts things like that, isn’t it? A monthly networking event we go to is canceled on Friday for the same reason.

  8. LOL, pumpkin amusement parks :D You are so right about that! That’s why the one I found last year didn’t have a “cover charge”, so we got in free at least. And I refused to purchase an over-priced pumpkin. But we did spend $$ on their petting zoo and food ;)
    Mackenzie recently posted..I’m Just Not That Into YouMy Profile

  9. Hey John and fun post :)

    I too love Fall although I am not a fan of football…sorry…:(

    I do love Pumpkin Pie though and the change in Nature’s color is absolutely spectacular in some parts of my ‘hood!

    I also love the climate and the fact that I can add layered clothing if I am too hot or too cold. As much as I love summer, I can’t stand the heat and humidity.

    Glad to read that you nix the pumpkin theme park in the bud for a chance to truly connect with those around you who do a lot of hard work…ie: the farmers :)

    Take care and all the best.

    Lyle
    lyle @ the Joy of Simple recently posted..My First Guest Blog Post And My First Reader Q & A :) My Profile

    • Yea, the ‘Hawks cut one of my guys and then he went to the 49er’s…not cool. ;)

      Buying a groupon is the way to go with stuff like this and the little ones do love it!

    • I agree, it doesn’t feel like October here yet either, though I hear it’s supposed to get cooler this weekend. Pumpkin bread…now I am hungry. :)

    • You can’t beat $3.88 Sandy. That’s not bad at all. I remember when we lived in San Diego and we’d have to pay in the neighborhood of $15 per pumpkin and that was 10 years ago!

    • Exactly Daisy. It’s silly to pay more than you need to. We like taking walks in the fall as well, especially as it gets cooler and the leaves are changing.

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