Teyonna Edwards - The Penny Hoarder

Besides dressing up and stuffing my face full of sugary goodness, decorating is my favorite part of Halloween.

However, store-bought decor can come with a hefty price tag.

And if you’re anything like yours truly, you don’t have the funds to drop $130 on something like these skeleton pallbearers.

But there are so many ways to be resourceful when it comes to Halloween -- and creating your own ghastly creatures at home is a great way to spook your guests, not your wallet.

13 DIY Halloween Decorations Under $5

These are great projects to do during your downtime or with your family. You can even get most of your supplies from Walmart or Dollar Tree.

We’ve all seen DIYs gone horribly wrong, but these Halloween projects are not only fun -- they’re also super easy! Even if you’re crafting-challenged, I guarantee these will turn out BOO-tifully.

1. Spooky Candle Light Cups

[caption id="attachment_39320" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Photo by Teyonna Edwards/The Penny Hoarder[/caption]

What you probably have:

  • Sharpie

What you need:

  • Clear or tinted (green or orange) plastic cups: $1
  • LED tealights: 2 pack for $1

These little creatures from Thrifty Momma Ramblings are perfect for a not-so-scary Halloween party. Draw faces on the cup, open-end facing down.

Turn your clear cups into a ghost or mummy, your green cups into Frankensteins or your orange cups into jack-o'-lanterns.

When you’re finished, place an LED tealight under each cup for an ominous glow.

2. Bloody Handprint Clings

[caption id="attachment_39310" align="aligncenter" width="640"]C0046T01 Photo by Teyonna Edwards/The Penny Hoarder[/caption]

What you probably have:

  • Plastic wrap
  • Cutting board or a smooth surface
  • Tape

What you need:

  • Food coloring: $3.65
  • Bottle of glue: $1  

Beware: These reusable clings from Felt Magnet can be a bit messy.

First, smooth out the plastic wrap and tape it to the cutting board.

Mix together glue and one drop of blue food coloring, then add the red food coloring. Keep adding drops until you get a color slightly lighter than the one you need. (It will dry darker).

Now for the messy part: Cover your hand with the white glue. Feel free to use gloves, but the prints will turn out better if you don’t. Make handprints on the plastic wrap.

Next, cover your hands with the “blood” and make another set of prints on top of the ones you already made. For an extra touch, shake off any excess blood onto the plastic wrap to make spooky splatters.

Allow your creations to dry, then peel them off the plastic wrap and stick them to a window so your neighbors will have a killer view.

3. Designer Pumpkin

[caption id="attachment_39308" align="aligncenter" width="640"]Better Homes & Gardens - Halloween Tricks & Treats 2011 Photo from Pomp and Circumstance[/caption]

What you probably have:

  • Hot glue gun
  • Sharpie

What you need:

  • Buttons: $1.96
  • Ribbon: $1
  • Mini pumpkin: $2

This one is all the fun of decorating pumpkins without the mess of carving. (Thanks Pomp and Circumstance!)

Draw the word or design you want on your pumpkin, then glue the buttons on top of it. Tie the ribbon in a bow around the stem for a more preppy decoration.

The best part? You can reuse this pumpkin once Halloween is over!

4. Colony of Bats

[caption id="attachment_39309" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Photo from Made Everyday[/caption]

What you probably have:

  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Pencil

What you need:

  • Black construction paper: $2

Bats never looked so pretty!

Fold a piece of construction paper in half. Along the crease, draw half of a bat. If your drawing skills border on kindergarten level, Made Everyday has a handy bat stencil you can print out -- just trace it onto the construction paper.

Cut out the bats and tape them to the wall. If you’re decorating the outside of your home, make sure to use duct tape instead.

5. Glowing Ghouls

[caption id="attachment_39313" align="aligncenter" width="640"]Diy halloween decorations Photo from MarthaStewart.com[/caption]

What you probably have:

  • Sharpie
  • Tape

What you need:

  • Glow sticks: $1
  • White balloons: $1

This one is from Martha Stewart. Put glow sticks inside blown-up balloons, tie them off and draw on ghostly eyes.

Tape your new guests to the wall or let them glide along the floor.

6. Halloween Soap

[caption id="attachment_39321" align="aligncenter" width="640"]Diy halloween decorations Photo from Little Bins for Little Hands[/caption]

What you need:

  • Halloween confetti: $2.61
  • Bottle of clear soap: $1

Thanks to Little Bins for Little Hands, you can bring the Halloween spirit into the bathroom as well.

Just place the confetti inside the soap bottle and mix it up (you may need to take out some of the soap to get it all to fit).

Make sure to use a transparent soap bottle so your guests can see your decoration.

7. Spider Web

[caption id="attachment_39318" align="aligncenter" width="640"]Diy halloween decorations Photo from Crafty Lumberjacks[/caption]

What you probably have:

  • Tape
  • Scissors

What you need:

  • Plastic spiders: $1
  • Yarn: $2.18

This creative web from Crafty Lumberjacks may take a bit of patience -- but it’s worth it.

Make an X with the yarn and tape it to the wall, then tape other lines of string to the center of the X, creating spokes.

Cut another piece of yarn. Pick a spoke, then at the center of the web tie a knot. From there, go to the next spoke. Wrap the yarn over, under, then around the spoke and move on to the next one.

See what we’re doing here? Hint: It’s a spider web.

Continue until you have a spiral pattern. If you run out of yarn before you’re done, tie off that piece on a spoke and cut a new one to finish the job.

Add creepy crawlies until your heart’s content!

8. Glowing Eyes

[caption id="attachment_39307" align="aligncenter" width="640"]Diy halloween decorations Photo from Rust and Sunshine[/caption]

What you probably have:

  • Empty paper towel or toilet paper rolls
  • Scissors
  • Pencil

What you need:

  • Glow sticks: $1

Want to creep out your party guests? Draw a set of eyes on an empty roll and cut them out; be careful not to cut the area around the eyes.

Place a glow stick inside the roll and tape the ends so it’s secure. Put your glowing eyes horizontally in the bushes along your walkway so your guests feel like they’re being watched.

Credit for all spine-shivering reactions goes to Rust and Sunshine.

9. Mummy Door

[caption id="attachment_39311" align="aligncenter" width="640"]Diy halloween decorations Photo from Honey and Fitz[/caption]

What you probably have:

  • Tape
  • Scissors
  • Printer paper

What you need:

  • White streamers: $1
  • Black construction paper: $2

Deck your door out with this simple craft from Honey and Fitz.

Cut your mummy wrap (aka streamers, or toilet paper if you have some to spare) into scraps and tape them horizontally to your door. Be sure to overlap and change directions so they’re not just straight lines.

Now it’s time for your mummy eyes. Cut two circles out of the white printer paper and two smaller circles from the black construction paper. Tape the black circles on top of the white ones.

Once you’ve taped them to your door, feel free to put some more mummy wrap over the eyes if you want them to have that creepy peek-a-boo look.

10. Ghost Leaf Bags

[caption id="attachment_39312" align="aligncenter" width="640"]Diy halloween decorations Photo from Everyday Art[/caption]

What you probably have:

  • White trash bags
  • Sharpie
  • Leaves

Sorry, my fellow Floridians, this one is not for you.

Instead of throwing away the leaves in your yard, do what Everyday Art did and use them for decoration.

Gather leaves into a trash bag then tie it off. Placing the bottom side up, draw some spooky eyes and a mouth. Set your ghosts in the front yard to greet people as they pass by.

11. Mice Silhouettes

[caption id="attachment_39316" align="aligncenter" width="637"]Diy halloween decorations Photo from Thrifty Decor Chick[/caption]

What you probably have:

  • Tape
  • Scissors
  • Pencil

What you need:

  • Black construction paper: $2

If you’re lacking a staircase, don’t worry -- this craft from Thrifty Decor Chick looks great on your baseboards, too.

Draw some mice and mouse holes on the construction paper. No shame if you have to trace them; just find a picture online. Cut them out and tape them to your baseboards or stairs.

The “shadows” will have your guests scurrying with fear.

12. Floating Candles

[caption id="attachment_39315" align="aligncenter" width="639"]Diy halloween decorations Photo from Consumer Crafts[/caption]

What you probably have:

  • Paper or newspaper
  • Hot glue gun
  • Paper towel rolls
  • Scissors

What you need:

  • LED tealights: 2 pack for $1
  • Black thread and needle: $1 sewing kit
  • White paint: $1.61

This will give your home that ominous, haunted mansion feel. Cut the edge of your paper towel roll so it looks similar to a slightly melted candle.

Use the glue gun to create thick, melted lines on the cut edge of the paper towel roll so it looks like melted wax. Coat the entire paper towel roll in white paint and allow time to dry.

Wad up the newspaper or paper and stuff it inside the paper towel roll so the tealight will have something to rest on.

With your needle and thread, loop your thread from one side of the top of the candlestick to the other, creating a hanging strap. Place the tealight inside and have your candles “float” from any hangable surface.

If you can, display them in the window like Consumer Crafts.

13. Wicked Witch Feet

[caption id="attachment_39317" align="aligncenter" width="640"]Diy halloween decorations Photo by Frances Janisch[/caption]

What you probably have:

  • High heels
  • Paper or newspaper

What you need:

  • Knee-high striped socks: $2.99

Thanks Parents.com for making my day. Who doesn’t love a good “Wizard of Oz” reference?

Stuff your socks with crinkled up newspaper or paper. Make sure to crinkle and un-crinkle it multiple times; this softens the paper and prevents your witch’s legs from looking bumpy.

Place your shoes (bonus points if they’re ruby slippers) on the feet, then stash her legs under your welcome mat or garage door.

Your turn: Which DIY Halloween decorations are you most excited to try?

Teyonna Edwards is an editorial intern at The Penny Hoarder. Her hobbies include reading, traveling, and pretending she knows what she’s doing.

Who doesn’t love free food?

Seriously. If you don’t, please reassess your life.

There are many ways to get food freebies, but this is one of the easiest: Many restaurants are willing to give you free food and deals just for downloading their apps.

Here are a few of my favorites…

8 Restaurant Apps That Give You Free Food

These free apps are available for iPhone and Android and will reward you with a coupon for a delicious treat in less than a minute!

1. Dairy Queen

[caption id="attachment_35870" align="aligncenter" width="480"]Free food Kristy Gaunt - The Penny Hoarder[/caption]

Get a coupon for a free small Blizzard by downloading the DQ app.

2. Sonic

[caption id="attachment_35872" align="aligncenter" width="480"]Free food Kristy Gaunt - The Penny Hoarder[/caption]

Get a free medium Slush when you download the app and create an account.

3. Marble Slab and MaggieMoo's

[caption id="attachment_35873" align="aligncenter" width="480"]Free food Kristy Gaunt - The Penny Hoarder[/caption]

Download the Slab Happy Rewards app to get one free ice cream.

4. California Pizza Kitchen

[caption id="attachment_35874" align="aligncenter" width="480"]Free food Kristy Gaunt - The Penny Hoarder[/caption]

Download and join the Pizza Dough Rewards program (available for iPhone and Android) to get a free small plate.

At my server’s suggestion, I downloaded it the last time I went to CPK --  and immediately received my freebie!

5. Krispy Kreme

[caption id="attachment_35875" align="aligncenter" width="480"]Free food Kristy Gaunt - The Penny Hoarder[/caption]

Register for the rewards program through the app to earn a free glazed donut.

6. Baskin Robbins

[caption id="attachment_35876" align="aligncenter" width="480"]Free food Kristy Gaunt - The Penny Hoarder[/caption]

Get a free regular scoop of your favorite Baskin Robbins flavor when you download the app.

7. Panera Bread

[caption id="attachment_35877" align="aligncenter" width="480"]Free food Kristy Gaunt - The Penny Hoarder[/caption]

Sign up for MyPanera through the app and receive a free pastry.

8. Chili’s

[caption id="attachment_35878" align="aligncenter" width="480"]Free food Kristy Gaunt - The Penny Hoarder[/caption]

Download the app and join the rewards program to automatically get 60 points, enough for a free chips and salsa appetizer.

Make sure to give it a day for the points to show up on your account.

Pro tip: You can usually get the same appetizer for free if you sit at a table in the bar area.

Want more ways to score some more free food? Check out these awesome restaurant loyalty programs. And don’t forget about free food on your birthday

Your Turn: What’s the best food freebie you’ve earned from an app? 

Teyonna Edwards is an editorial intern at The Penny Hoarder. Her hobbies include reading, traveling, and pretending she knows what she’s doing.

What’s one of the biggest daily struggles for college students?

Waking up on time.

As someone who’s missed her fair share of classes because she overslept, I can attest to this -- and if my mom is reading this: No worries, I haven’t failed anything yet.

Johnny Fayad and Ali Kothari had the same problem. But instead of complaining about it, they created a solution: coffee-infused energy bars.

That’s right, you can eat your coffee.

Grinding Out an Idea

[caption id="attachment_35363" align="aligncenter" width="640"]College entrepreneurs Image from newgroundsfood.com[/caption]

As freshmen at Northeastern University, Fayad and Kothari discovered what all college students learn eventually: Don’t take 8 a.m. classes.

They were constantly running late and didn’t have time for breakfast or coffee. And that’s how the CoffeeBar and New Grounds Food were born.

“We started making them for our friends in our dorm room,” CEO and co-founder Fayad says. “We passed them out at the study room late at night, to see if they actually worked; people liked them.”

They decided to put their CoffeeBars to the test. During the spring of 2013, Fayad and Kothari entered the Husky Startup Challenge, a program that gives young entrepreneurs the chance to pitch their ideas to their peers and professionals.

The duo ended up winning the audience favorite award -- and $500.

Kickstarting a Delicious Business

[caption id="attachment_35364" align="aligncenter" width="640"]College entrepreneurs Image from newgroundsfood.com[/caption]

In May 2014, they applied for Northeastern's Idea Venture Accelerator grant and received $10,000 for their business proposal, which helped them manufacture their first 3,000 bars.

Four months later, Fayad and Kothari used those bars to help launch a Kickstarter campaign.

The college juniors spread the word on campus and reached out to friends and family before the campaign started. They also worked with SCOUT, Northeastern's free, student-run design agency, to create packaging that highlighted the campaign.

To get the word out, they gave out these promotional bars on campus and at events in the Boston area, and sent some to influential bloggers.

The goal was to earn another $10,000 -- and they did it in less than 15 hours.

By the time Fayad and Kothari ended the campaign after 44 days, they had received $44,109 from more than 1,000 backers.

New Grounds Food Today

[caption id="attachment_35366" align="aligncenter" width="640"]College entrepreneurs Image from newgroundsfood.com[/caption]

CoffeeBars are now available in more than 300 locations, such as Shaw’s and Safeway, across 21 states, as well as in Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico. They retail for approximately $2.99.

CoffeeBars can also be found on New Grounds’ website (use the code “pennyhoarder” for a 15% discount) and Amazon.

Fayad and Kothari have hired five other college students to join their team, and recently brought on their first full-time, non-student employee as VP of Marketing. She left General Mills to see what a startup feels like, and the guys say they’re stoked to have her.

The business is growing steadily. It does production runs every two months and is seeing an increase in demand for the products in stores.

While the company is still running at a loss, the founders expect that to change soon. “We’re shooting to break even in November,” Fayad explains.

All the while, they’ve been able to run their business while taking part in their school’s co-op program -- which means they’re required to complete at least two internships before they graduate.

But their teamwork makes it manageable.

“We're great complements to each other,” Fayad said. “He's very analytical. I'm very forward. He's the back end of the business and operations and finance. I'm the sales and fundraising. It's been great. We're three years running. We joke around that it's… like a marriage.”

Interested in Launching a Startup in College?

[caption id="attachment_35391" align="aligncenter" width="640"]College entrepreneurs Samantha Dunscombe - The Penny Hoarder[/caption]

Before New Grounds Food, Fayad admits that their experience was “basically just eating packaged goods.”

So how do you go from consumer to creator?

Start Now

The earlier, the better! Don’t let your age deter you.

“Being a student is the best time to launch your own company,” Kothari said. “You don't have a lot of risk.”

Plus, students have access to so many resources.

Kothari said being students is what “turned heads and opened doors” for Fayad and him. They weren’t afraid to ask the pros for help.

Use Your Resources

On top of telling their friends and family about New Grounds Food, Fayad and Kothari reached out to media outlets with a brief email explaining who they were and what they were doing -- and that helped them appear on CNBC and USA Today during the first month of their Kickstarter campaign.

They also used social media and reached out to people in the blogging community who could post about their campaign.

“Bloggers have been a great support for us,” Fayad said.

Pick Tools Wisely

A lot of running a startup is trial and error, from getting the product right to maintaining a business plan. One thing Kothari wishes they’d done from the beginning was pay closer attention to their numbers -- especially expenses.

Here are some online tools New Grounds Food uses and recommends:

  • Wave for accounting
  • HubSpot for customer relationship management and sales

Minor mistakes aside, Fayad and Kothari were able to gain their own startup experience -- and they won’t even graduate with their business degrees until Spring 2017.

It’s motivating to see people my age with this kind of drive, which only makes me want to work harder. It reminds me that all it takes is an idea -- and maybe waking up on time once in awhile.

Your Turn: What kind of startup would you create with a $10,000 grant?

Teyonna Edwards is an editorial intern at The Penny Hoarder. Her hobbies include reading, traveling, and pretending she knows what she’s doing.