The cute costumes, the Martha Stewart decorations, the bags and bags of candy…the cost of it adds up. Just like the dark monster in the corner, you are afraid to take a good look at how much your are actually spending.
Halloween has certainly become a big holiday. In fact, according to the National Retail Federation, Americans spent more than $8 billion last year celebrating. Eight billion! Seriously.
It doesn’t have to be that way. Instead, brandish your own bag of tricks to spend less this Halloween. You’ll be able to make it a magical holiday and leave the bills behind.
Create Easy-to-Make Decorations
A paper ghost cut out of parchment paper and stuck to a window or mirror makes a great decoration for pennies. Empty milk bottles can become ghost luminaries. Cheap flower pots can turned upside down and painted like Jack-o-lanterns. Origami bats can be folded from construction paper. Just search the web and Pinterest specifically for tons of cheap but festive ideas.
Know What You Want Before You Step in the Store
The federation urges retailers to stock their shelves at least two months in advance with the latest Halloween trappings. They say that more than one-third of shoppers will get their costume idea from browsing the shelves. This puts the power into the hands of the store not the consumer. If you aren’t sure what you are looking for, you can be lead, through displays and advertising, to pay more than you should.
First have a plan of action. Decide what exactly you want to buy and make a list. Choose a budget. Sticking to a plan means you will spend less.
Get a Costume for Free
Get together with friends, or find a local sponsored costume exchange. This way you can trade your child’s outgrown costume from last year for a new one this year. No out-of-pocket cost, and everyone is happy.
National Costume Swap day is the second Saturday of October every year. You can learn more and find a swap here: http://www.greenhalloween.org/CostumeSwap/
If you can’t manage an exchange, consider buying a gently used costume at an outgrown sale (many sales occur in September and early October), a yard sale, or online through a local Facebook yard sale group or Craigslist.
By the way, the average store-bought costume averages almost $30 per family member.
Practice Careful Candy Buying
Don’t overbuy on candy for trick-or-treaters. Many people stock up on bags and bags of candy only to have very few kids coming to their door. If you are new to the neighborhood, ask other families how much candy they go through. It is also okay to run out of candy and turn off your porch light. The rules have changed as many parents opt for sponsored treating events at churches, malls and community centers, skipping neighborhoods altogether.
Save on Pumpkins
Pumpkins by the pound are getting expensive. Do you really need a bunch? Why not just select one or two for the family to carve together? If you wait until the day itself (Halloween) you may get them for 50 percent off.
If you have a garden consider growing your own next year. If not, consider investing in foam pumpkins that can be carved and used year after year.