For many families, the countdown to Halloween starts about now. With a few weeks away until the holiday, we can already feel our budgets hurting. It's amazing how expensive one night can be. Between costumes, candy and decorations, we're looking at potentially hefty expenses. All that money spent for one outfit and one night? It's almost as bad as prom season. (For other ways to save, see 6 Simple Ways To Save This Halloween.)
TUTORIAL: Budgeting Basics
Of course, we can always decide not to celebrate. Forgo the costume and candy for now, and spend the money on something else. We can always save money by reusing costumes from last year. If you have kids, however, skipping the holiday is out of the question. Money should never stand in the way of your child's Halloween.
Here are six of the most common Halloween budget killers, coupled with tips for outsmarting them:
Prepackaged costumes are not always worth the premium. Instead of spending $50 to $100 on a costume in a bag, use your creative instincts to create your own. Leverage your kids' creative imaginations to design your family's costumes. If you're savvy with a sewing machine, buy some fabric and put your ideas to work. Otherwise, shop around on eBay and at thrift stores for second-hand items. As a family, find creative ways to make the most of what you have around the house, too.
This year, when you're shopping for Halloween party supplies, be smart about what you're buying and where you're shopping. Instead of seeking out Halloween-specific supplies, look for items that you can reuse throughout this fall season. Step outside the Halloween section to seek out generic items without the Halloween premium. You can even try the dollar-store to find the basics that you need.
If you are shopping for Halloween supplies, look for items that you can reuse in future years. The costs may be higher upfront, but over time, your investment will be a wise one. Store your items in a place where your decorations will be free from harm or damage, and keep them in a vacuum-sealed bag. You can even make your own decorations to reuse and use this experience as an opportunity to build some great family memories.
In the world of decorating, less can be more. Instead of splurging on every imaginable prop, focus on the ones that deliver the effects that you want. Take a minimalist approach to making a statement. You don't need an over-done home to have fun with your family.
The Assumption That You Can't Shop Around
With less than a month left until Halloween, you have plenty of time to plan your budget wisely. If you find a great deal on a costume right now, you should absolutely take it. If you're up to it, you can also wait until the very last minute when many Halloween stores dramatically drop prices. With time on your side, you'll also have your pick with top second-hand marketplaces like eBay and Amazon marketplace.
Remember that you can also shop around for items like candy, and when you do shop around, compare items by price-per-ounce to make sure that you are buying the most for your money spent. Costco and Amazon.com are both great places to buy wholesale candy. When you shop around, make sure that you scour the web for online coupon codes.
As with your costume, candy is an expense that allows you to get creative. Chances are that you and your kids will be attending a number of Halloween-related events and parties. Save this candy, and reuse it for the night of Oct. 31. You can also reuse candy from the night itself: take your kids trick or treating early, and redistribute the candy that they ultimately won't eat. When trick-or-treaters come to your home, distribute candy yourself so that you can moderate how much people are taking. That way, you'll have enough candy to last the entire night.
The Bottom Line
For adults and kids alike, Halloween is an amazing holiday. Most likely, the night will be expensive, but you shouldn't let money stand in the way of this night of fun that only happens once a year. Find creative ways to save, and make the most out of your budget.