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CAN YOU ENJOY THE FUN AND BEAUTY OF A WISCONSIN FALL WITHOUT BREAKING THE BANK?

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Aren’t we lucky to live in a state with four seasons? (Yeah, yeah, we know, ask us again in mid-February). And autumn is so pretty with the beautiful leaves and crystalline blue skies. Get out there and enjoy it with these four easy tips.

Tip #1. Create a budget with your partner/family. As we’ve said before, you can strike a balance between saying “no” to every fun thing and having to sit down before you dare to open your credit card statement. The best way to strike that balance is by creating a monthly “fun budget.” And that best way to create that budget is with the help and input of the people who have to live within it.

Get your family involved in the process and they will own that budget, and be a lot less likely to push back when you say can’t afford something. You’d be amazed how frugal kids can be when something feels like “their” money vs. “the bank of Mom and Dad.”

Feel like your kids are too young to deal with the reality of money? Guess what? It’s good for them. Think of how many young adults get in trouble the first time they have to stretch a paycheck or deal with a credit card. You are preparing them for a better financial future.

Once you have your budget in place, everyone in your family will know exactly what you can afford to spend each month, and have a better way to decide when it’s ok to splurge or time to just say “no.”

Tip #2. Scout out freebies. Every community has free events that are often just as much fun as expensive ones. Plus, can we really put a price tag on the thrill of getting something for nothing? Fall festivals and parades are big in many areas, communities often have free movie nights and farmers’ markets and public gardens are still open in many areas. Check out this Wisconsin travel site to find events around the state, two minutes of searching uncovered free Cranberry Marsh tours, free open mic nights, free state park admissions and even a “fun for free in Wisconsin” link. Your community paper or website can also be a great source for events around your hometown.

Tip #3. Become a social media guru. Already hanging out on Facebook, Twitter and the like? Make the most of social media by liking and following your favorite local establishments, tourist sites and more. You’ll get updated on their events and might even collect some freebies along the way.

Tip #4. Go play outside. Been pushing your kids to get out from behind their screens and head outdoors? Why not follow your own good advice and join them? Fall is a great time to build leaf forts, take a bike ride, look for birds, hike in a local park and introduce your children to the games of your youth (Ghost in the Graveyard, anyone?). Get the whole gang involved, or spend some one-on-one time kicking through crunchy leaves and solving the world’s problems.

Some of the best things in life really are free. Discover them for yourself this fall!