We don't want to scare you, but Halloween is looming and if you're not careful, it could take a gruesome bite from your monthly budget. Halloween is a huge business. Each year, $5.07 billion is spent on costumes, cards, candy and decorations, and the average person will spend around $65 on themselves. You can see how the bill adds up fast. For each of your children there's a costume and a party, and since it's a holiday, you may feel inclined to purchase small gifts for the family. Let's not forget about costume-day at the office, mobs of children chanting for tricks or treats, and by the time November rolls around, you've blown the budget. And that doesn't even include your pet's costume! (Use these tips for a bountiful Yuletide on a Scrooge-like budget. For more information, read Tips For Avoiding A Holiday Spending Hangover.)
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Halloween's theme is meant to be scary, but at least you can fend off financial fright. Here are six ways to save money during this ghoulish occasion.
1. The Costume
Finding the best head-turning costume is the serious Halloweener's main goal. That old, dusty Britney Spears costume can't be worn again this year, right? Before you spend a fortune on that must-have giant hamburger costume, let's cast off the demons of bad financial decisions and take a more frugal approach. Here are a few ideas:
- Swap costumes with friends.
- Look for local websites where people post items for sale.
- If you like timeless costumes, take advantage of after-Halloween sales.
- Find inspiration at a thrift store.
The costume industry has a little secret: They have their fingers crossed that you'll let your kid wear his/her costume early and ruin it. Put the get-ups on a shelf so you don't end up buying two costumes this year.
2. Community Candy
Everything is cheaper when you buy in bulk, right? In the case of candy, that's definitely true. So talk to your neighbors and get a volume discount on this year's treats. This is a sweet deal, guaranteed to trick out your treat budget. Also, don't purchase it too early. Do you trust your willpower?
What's the second most decorated holiday in America? Halloween! If you like to decorate, you know that it can cost a lot of money, but it doesn't have to. Once again, patience is a virtue. Purchase your decorations soon after Halloween and store them. If you're good at arts and craft, visit your local craft store for ideas. Let's be honest, homemade likely won't look as good as the expensive, ready-made decorations, but aside from a huge November credit card bill, what do you get for being the best decorated house on the block?
4. The Party
Congratulations on being the designated party planner for this year's fright night. How about holding on to those party decorations year-to-year and letting the designated party house use them? Ask people to bring snacks, and resist the urge to hire the expensive pirate. Remember, a party is more about the company than the black lights and playing an endless loop of "Thriller" and "Monster Mash". (Hosting more than just the Halloween party this year? Learn how to control entertaining costs, read Host a Holiday Party For Less.)
5. The Pumpkin
What can be saved on a pumpkin purchase? A glance at some elaborate jack-o'-lanterns suggests there's room to scale back. Does your pumpkin really need LED lights and a speaker system? How about using some of those Christmas lights instead? If you have a green thumb, why not help your kids start a pumpkin patch? This isn't practical for some but for those who enjoy gardening, this can be a fun activity, and the kids will love watching the pumpkin grow. (While you're at it, you may as well plant a whole garden. For more information, read The Economics of Gardening: Can You Dig It?.)
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6. The Budget
As with Christmas, set your budget and stay within it - no matter what. Halloween is only one day, but credit card debt can last a lifetime. Be thrifty and remember that the ghosts, costumes, and haunted houses should be scary - not your credit card bill!
The Bottom Line
Halloween has become a nearly $6 billion industry in America and has the potential to break your budget. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to keep your Halloween from becoming a spending nightmare.
For the latest financial news, see Water Cooler Finance: History's Biggest Rogue Trading Scandal.