20 Fall Weather Essentials Under $50
Fall isn't far off, and with it comes a temptation to buy a host of cold-weather gear for the kitchen, the yard, and everything in between. Frugal consumers can get all they need for a fun and cozy fall on a budget. These items cost less than $50 each, and some even save money over time.
Another way to avoid cranking up the heat is to make use of a wood-burning fireplace (assuming it's not just ornamental). Buy firewood cheap from a local seller -- in bulk to save cash, if the fireplace will get a lot of use. Or cozy up around an outdoor fire pit on a chilly evening and roast some marshmallows with the kids.
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Not everyone likes the mess and expense of firewood, especially when the fireplace is used only occasionally. For those times, pick up a case of firelogs to keep on hand, such as a nine-pack of 3-pound Enviro-Logs from Walmart for about $12. Highly rated "original style" Duraflame logs are available at Home Depot for about $12 for a six-log case.
As fall descends, and days and nights get nippier, a lightweight coat can help keep the chill at bay. And nothing says fall like a classic barn jacket (also known as a field coat). L.L. Bean features both men's and women's styles for about $110 to $120. Although not cheap, the coats are highly rated by users and known for their durability. For a fraction of the price, opt instead for a down jacket, priced from about $20 at Lands' End.
If turning on the heat is necessary, a programmable thermostat can save $180 a year, according to the federal Energy Star program. How? These nifty tools -- some of which cost less than $40 -- can be programmed to use less energy while residents are sleeping or not at home. Smart thermostats, such as Nest, can save even more by automatically turning the heat down when they sense no one is home. Although pricey, at $249, they are eligible for rebates of $100 from utility companies in some areas.
Getting tired of burgers off the grill and already dreaming about roasts and soups? A slow cooker is the way to go with fall cooking -- it's convenient, delicious, and cheap. The Hamilton Beach 33155, a Cheapism top pick, is priced at $20 at Walmart. At 5 quarts, this slow cooker can feed a family, and reviewers say the heat settings are accurate and food turns out perfect nearly every time.
What goes in the slow cooker is up to the chef, but it's easiest on the wallet to buy food that's in season. Fall produce is abundant in most parts of the country from late September through early December. Choices include apples, asparagus, beets, broccoli, cabbage, cantaloupes, cauliflower, celery, cranberries, eggplants, figs, grapes, honeydew melon, kale, leeks, lettuce, mushrooms, oranges, pears, plums, spinach, squash, sweet potatoes, and yams.
Say goodbye to iced coffee and welcome back a hot cup of joe in the morning. Savings from skipping the coffee shop on the way to work add up. The 12-cup Hamilton Beach BrewStation Summit Ultra 48465 and the Capresso 5-Cup Mini Drip are two of the best coffee makers under $50. They can be programmed the night before to have a dose of caffeine ready to go.
Hot chocolate is a cold-weather staple. In a Cheapism taste test, Swiss Miss Classic Milk Chocolate was the judges' favorite. It costs about 11 cents a serving, and panelists recognized a taste they remembered fondly from childhood. For a bolder, darker chocolate flavor, try Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Premium, starting at less than 40 cents a serving.
Coffee, hot chocolate -- add another fall beverage to the list. Apple cider is a traditional autumn treat that won't break a grocery budget. Look for Trader Joe's Spiced Cider ($3 for a 64-ounce bottle) and drink it warm or cold, spiked or not.
As summer winds down, it's time to fire up the stove again for some home-cooked comfort food. Solid cookware is vital for making meals at home and cutting dining-out costs. A Cook N Home 12-piece stainless steel set, available on Amazon for less than $50, earns high praise from users and the distinction of best cheap stainless steel cookware from Cheapism.com. Reviewers report that the pots and pans are lightweight and easy to clean.
One downside to fall: Colds and flu begin to make the rounds. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone older than six months get an annual influenza vaccine. Flu shots are available from a range of providers, including pharmacy chains and big-box stores. The cheapest place to go is typically Costco or Sam's Club, at $15 out of pocket.
Although a leaf blower saves back strain and hours of time compared with clearing a whole yard manually, a leaf rake is a necessity for smaller jobs. Pick one up at any home improvement store for less than $20.