Ideas to prevent Halloween from becoming a nightmare

Probably the most frightening thing about Halloween is how much it can wreak havoc on our budgets. Getting ready for Halloween doesn’t have to cost you a plastic arm and leg, though.

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  • Free chocolate, creepy tombstones, happy pumpkins, creative costumes. Aaah, Halloween. It’s a weird American holiday, right?

  • Probably the most frightening thing about Halloween is how much it wreaks havoc on our budgets. According to a BigInsight survey, the average person will spend $80 on decorations, costumes, and candy this year, with the total Halloween spending expected to reach $8 billion. Children love Halloween, so parents have to budget for it.

  • Getting ready for Halloween doesn’t have to cost you a plastic arm and a leg, though. Most people reuse what they already have and just buy a few accessories at the dollar store to stretch their money. If just thinking about how you’re going to pay for creative costumes, clever party ideas, and wickedly awesome Halloween décor for your family this fall makes you want to scream, begin with some of these tips and websites where you’ll find some special deals and discounts:

  • 1. Costumes

  • If you can convince your kids to wear hand-me-down costumes, you’ll save a bundle by swapping with friends or by picking up something inexpensive on eBay, Craig’s List or thrift stores. You’ll also save money if you can create impressive Do-It-Yourself Halloween costumes, rather than purchasing ones at the store.

  • Face paint is relatively inexpensive and can turn a mediocre used costume into something the ghouls and boys will be proud of. You can even make your own face paintby using inexpensive recipes.

  • Convince your kids that being creative with what you have is way better than buying something.

  • 2. Decorations & Parties

  • More and more churches, community centers, and even shopping malls are hosting free parties, so you could save money by attending one of those, rather than planning your own this year.

  • The best way to save on Halloween decorations is to buy them in November, when you can get up to 90 percent off for next year. If you wait until the day before Halloween to buy your pumpkins, you can usually get them 50 percent off. If you want to be able to use your pumpkins as part of your Thanksgiving decor, have your kids put stickers on them, rather than carving them at Halloween.

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  • Of course, if you really want to throw a spooky shindig, you can find all kinds of sites online that offer free spooky games and puzzles for kids, and inexpensive Halloween crafts to help you stretch your Halloween dollar.

  • 3. Candy

  • The first tip for stretching your dollar is to not let the little costumed darlings who come to your door reach in and grab a fist full of treats. Hand them one or two and you’ll be better able to control how much you go through. Chocolate treats usually cost more, and kids aren’t as particular about their candy as adults are, so go for the cheap stuff. There are plenty of candy coupons online as well as in your local newspaper.

  • Better yet, skip the candy altogether and pass out things that won’t rot kids’ teeth or expire. For example, Wendy’s Restaurant sells a book of 10 coupons for Frosty’s for only $1. McDonalds offers 12 different menu items for only $1. For only $10 you could supply 120 trick or treaters with something fun and different. And yeah, you could be THAT mom that gives away coins instead of candy, saving you money and cavities in the process.

  • Do you have fast food kid’s meal toys your kids stopped playing with? Be bold, clean them up, and throw some of those in your candy bowl to give away. You could also toss in some stickers, pencils, and other piñata stuffers that cost less than candy. Here’s a daring thought — leave the house to go trick or treating with your kids and don’t pass out any candy at all. Gasp!

  • If you think spending money is scary enough, you just might want to try a Freddy Kruger whack at these Halloween savings this fall from local vendors who are putting the treat in trick or treating this year:

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  • Halloween is the most fun when you enjoy it with friends and family, so be sure to share this article and spread the ghoulish joy this year!

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Trina Boice is an author of 17 books, mother of 4 awesome sons, a twin, faculty at two colleges, Ham radio geek, and money-saving expert.


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