Summer is winding to a close, and after all those carnival rides, those delicious nights outdoors sipping on rosé, and those impromptu trips to the boardwalk, you've just checked your bank account to discover that you're... broke. Like, so broke that your savings account has more in common with that total solar eclipse in August than it should. Before you panic about the sanctity of your fall traditions, never fear — there are plenty of cheap fall activities you can partake in, without spending a single cent.
Truthfully, a part of you already knew that — if there is one thing we millennials do well, it's finding the cheapest way to enjoy ourselves (hat tip to my closest friend Trader Joe). But whether you like to get your fall 'grams on solo or prefer to soak in the last of the sunshine in a group, it's always good to have plenty of options. Odds are you're not the only one whose funds took a hit in the past few months. Here are a few surefire ways to enjoy the season without sending your bank account into another existential spiral — or at the very least, help you save some money before the holiday season desecrates it for good.
Go Ghost Hunting
Sleuthing for spooks has never been quite as easy as it is in 2017. As someone who once devoted an entire afternoon to hunting for ghosts in the Bustle office, I can attest to the ridiculous thrill of trying to communicate with the undead through your iPhone. I used Ghost Hunter M2, but there are plenty of other free apps in the app store to get you started.
DIY A Pumpkin Spice Latte
If supporting your PSL habit got a little too expensive last season, look into ways you can make one yourself. A lot of what makes it taste so autumnal are ingredients you already have at home, like cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and clove. Here's a list of DIY recipes to get you started.
Have A Cozy Read-In
On the first really chilly day, take the opportunity to make yourself a cup of tea, wear your comfiest pajamas, wrap a blanket around yourself, and read whatever book makes you most think of fall. If it isn't the Harry Potter series the way it is for 90 percent of the population, here are some perfect books for fall to give you some inspo.
Head To The Farmer's Market
Too broke to afford any fancy soaps and cheeses at your local farmer's market? It's still worth going to window shop... and, of course, to try all the free samples. Nothing tastes quite as good as cheese you get for free.
Try Out New Recipes
I'm really one to talk, because I have a crock pot that I've now owned for nearly two years and never opened, but fall is the perfect time to try your hand at new recipes — so many delicious things are in season. Try your hand at some cheesy fall recipes and follow it up with some pie recipes for fall to start.
Host A Potluck
Speaking of recipes, there's no better time to have a potluck than during the fall. In September and October, in between the summer and holiday travel rush, most of your friends will actually be in town for once; take advantage of it by having them all over for dinner, with each person bringing a dish so nobody has to bear the brunt of it alone.
Try Out Some DIY Scrubs
The best part about fall is that it gets cold enough that you feel 17 percent less guilty about wasting your evenings away in the bath tub watching Gossip Girl reruns! If you want a cheap way to make them super autumnal, give some of these DIY fall bath scrubs a try.
Take A Road Trip
In autumn, it really is about the journey, not about the destination. Check and see if you're near one of these best places to see the leaves change in autumn, or can take a road trip along one of these routes with pretty fall leaves. Your Instagram followers will thank you for it.
Go For A Zombie-Themed Run
No, you don't have to go to the trouble of finding and signing up for a zombie-themed race; you can have one anytime, anywhere. The Zombies, Run! app lets you turn your ordinarily boring runs into missions in a post-zombie world, where you have to outrun zombies while getting medical and food supplies for the other surviving humans and whatnot. Best part is you can still sync your playlist up to it — which is why I will always associate "Bang Bang" with trying not to get eaten by the undead. But I digress.
In Fact, Check Out All These Creepy Apps
Enjoy spooking yourself? Now it's as easy as tapping the download button on your phone. Bustle did a roundup of creepy apps for horror fans, and it has everything from zombie photo booths to serial ghost stories to an app that makes stabbing noises whenever you shake your phone. (Have fun, kids.)
Have A Picnic In The Park
Now that you can head to the park without roasting the way you do in the summer, pack some sandwiches, soup, and cookies, and head to the park to enjoy the cool weather while you still can. Or just do what I, the epitome of class, always do, and go buy a baguette to munch on a rock.
Plan Your Halloween Costume
It's never too early to start planning your Halloween costume — particularly if you're doing a DIY solo costume, a DIY couples costume, or a DIY group costume. No matter what route you take, DIY is your best bet at doing it on the cheap!
Go On A Hike
Search for the best hikes in your area — particularly the ones where you'll get to see the best fall foliage, if you happen to be close to any of them. Just be sure to go with a friend or in a group (and pack plenty of hike-friendly snacks!).
Share Ghost Stories
Fact: Every person on this earth has a good ghost story, whether it's their own (eep) or someone else's. I highly recommend everyone steal my idea, which is an annual Ghost Party where friends come over and we literally all just sit in a circle in the dark, drink, and tell ghost stories until we've all scared ourselves silly. Don't have any of your own? This app is full of 'em, if you don't mind losing sleep.
Check Out Local Events In Your Neighborhood
There are probably all kinds of cheap events in your area happening right under your nose each weekend. Check out your local news sources or calendars for fall festivals, hay rides, haunted houses, and flea markets in your neighborhood.
If you and your squad are feeling particularly adventurous, extend your autumn hike into a night camping in the woods. Or if you're wary of staying in a tent, try camping out in your car. There's nothing quite like looking up at the stars on a clear fall night.
Check Out The Haunted Places In Your Area
Here's a fun way to lose sleep tonight! Google your city/town and the word "haunted" and see what comes up. (Trust me, there will be something.) Odds are you live within driving distance of more than a few haunted places. Go on a fun excursion one weekend and visit the popular ones — heck, pull out that ghost hunting app and see if you and your friends can crack some decades old haunted mysteries.
Host A Scary Movie Night
Between everyone in your friend group's subscriptions to Netflix, HBO, and Hulu, odds are you have an arsenal of horror flicks at your disposal. Pop some corn and invite the squad over for a series of scary movie nights leading up to Halloween for some good, cheap, horrific, possibly psychologically-damaging fall fun!