Personal Finance

August 27, 2013

Family fun without falling into the red

But how can you make time for some fall family fun amid all the hustle and bustle? And better yet, how do you do all of this on a budget?

August is drawing to a close. The kids are adjusting to alarm clocks, nightly homework packets and fall sports schedules, and you’re reveling in the comfort of a routine (albeit likely a busy routine) again. But how can you make time for some fall family fun amid all the hustle and bustle? And better yet, how do you do all of this on a budget?

Opportunities abound around our town. Here are some great ideas to consider, all of which can be squeezed into the busiest schedules and tightest budgets:

Friday night lights

. Who doesn’t love a stadium hot dog and hot chocolate while cuddling under a blanket on the bleachers? Try a high school football game in your area, most admission fees are inexpensive, ranging between $5-7…some kids even get in free! Kids love the excitement and energy, listening to the band, watching the cheerleaders and drill teams, and it’s a great way to support your local high school … a true win-win!

The great pumpkin patch. A trip to the pumpkin patch is a must! There are so many good ones around Kansas City, and this website help you find the right one for you. Most offer all kinds of activities like hay or corn mazes, pumpkin launching, hayrides, petting zoos, train rides, playgrounds and concessions stands. Some, such as Schaake’s outside Lawrence

, don’t even charge admission; you only pay for the pumpkins you harvest or the treats you buy. Hours of free fun, and great deals on pumpkins and gourds!

A walk in the woods. If you haven’t been to the Overland Park Arboretum, don’t miss it this year, especially when the leaves are changing. For a very minimal entrance fee you can stroll along five miles of trails below towering trees and through an amazing botanical garden. You can bring your furry friend along, too, on a leash of course. Pack a picnic or pick up some deli sandwiches at the Garden Café and make a day of it. Powell Gardens

, located east of Lee’s Summit, is another popular choice.

Sample the cider. Treat yourself and your kids to a trip to the Louisburg Cider Mill

for warm cider donuts and freshly squeezed apple cider. The best (but busiest) time to go is during Ciderfest, the weekends of Sept. 28-29 and Oct. 5-6. There are no admission or parking fees, and you can enjoy a pancake breakfast, pony rides, cider and donut making, craft booths, and live music. Kids never get tired of the cider mill tour!

Pick some produce. Another fun way to spend the day is traveling to one of the many pick-your-own produce farms just outside of Kansas City. Prices almost always beat those in the supermarket, and your kids get to see where food actually comes from! Depending on the farm and time of year, you can find apples, cherries, tomatoes, asparagus, beans, rhubarb and much more.

is a good resource for finding a farm in your area.

Whatever you do this fall, whether it’s one of these ideas or your own, make the time and put it on the calendar. Before you know it, the snow will be falling or your little ones will be flying the nest. Create affordable memories now that will stay with them for the rest of their lives!

Kat's Money Corner is posted on Dollars Sense every Tuesday. Kat Hnatyshyn, when not blogging or caring for her little one, is a manager with CommunityAmerica Credit Union. For more financial chatter, click

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