We Americans love saving money but we also really love Halloween.
More than 157 million of us plan to celebrate Halloween this year, according to the National Retail Federation’s Halloween Consumer Spending Survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics.
It’s estimated that 68 million Americans will dress up this Halloween and another 20 million pet owners will dress up their pet. (Guilty! I’ve gotten costumes for my dogs!)
The average person celebrating will spend $74.34, compared with $77.52 last year. Total spending on Halloween is expected to reach $6.9 billion.
While that $74.34 is not a budget-busting amount, wouldn’t it be great if you could shave just 10% off your Halloween budget? That’s why I’ve put together this post on ways to keep Halloween on the cheap and how you can save money on Halloween.
CHEAP COSTUME IDEAS
In the picture above, you can see one of the cheapest Halloween costumes I’d ever come up with–I turned a Twister game mat into a poncho and wore it for my costume. Yes, I dressed up as a Twister game. And you know what? It was about $5 and it kept me warm on a chilly trick or treating night.
Another way to get cheap Halloween costumes? Visit a local thrift or resale store. One year the folks from Savers stores wanted me to know that in addition to buying used clothing at their resale stores, you can get new stuff there, too. That’s true with Goodwill and other thrift and resale stores as well.
Case in point: a couple of years ago, my younger daughter wanted to be a hipster from the 70s for Halloween. I took her to a local thrift shop where we purchased an authentic 70s polyester blouse and white go-go boots. She used her own white tights, mini skirt and headwrap, and borrowed a pair of big-as-your-head sunglasses from a 70-year-0ld aunt, who wore those big-as-your-head sunglasses on her head in all seriousness in the 70s. Final cost for the costume? $17.50.
Want to be a cowboy, cowgirl or Jessie from “Toy Story” for Halloween? Add a bandana to a pair of jeans and a denim shirt, find yourself a red cowboy hat, and you’re good to go. Interested in being the bride of Frankenstein? Many thrift shops well wedding dresses for a song. With one purchase you could have your whole costume!
Finally, don’t forget about the Green Halloween costume swap. That is, in early October there will be costume swaps going on nationwide so parents can trade in last year’s costume and swap them for a new one–for free!
SAVE MONEY ON HALLOWEEN CANDY
Start clipping coupons now. I noticed that in my last Sunday circular that there were a ton more candy coupons. I’m sure it’s timed to go along with Halloween shopping and that’s OK. Don’t get the Sunday paper anymore? You can always go online at Coupons.com to download and printout coupons to help save money on Halloween candy. Don’t forget SavingStar, too–which not only helps you save money but gives you cash back, too.
Also, when buying Halloween candy, don’t always go for the candy that screams HALLOWEEN. What I mean by this is, for example, the Peppermint Patties with the orange center or the pumpkin-shaped Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups are going to be more expensive than the regular versions of these popular candy snacks. Plus, you’ll probably get more per bag by buying “regular” versus the “holiday” versions of candy. (This advice applies to sweets for Christmas, Easter and Valentine’s Day, too.)
DIY HALLOWEEN DECORATIONS
Use what you already own for decorations. One of my favorite Halloween decorations is a scarecrow, something I remember my mother making each year when I was a kid. The scarecrow would sit on the front stoop and “greet” our trick or treaters. She would use her “grubs” (grungy clothes she wore for gardening) to dress the scarecrow. All she needed to buy was some hay. If you don’t have any “grubs,” you could raid your hand-me-down clothes or the ones you were going to donate to charity, and use them to make your scarecrow. After Halloween, compost the hay and keep the clothes for next year’s scarecrow.
Another idea? Grow your own pumpkins. We did this, quite by accident one year, but it was awesome! We had a small, raised “bed” next to our house, and this was where we dumped our grass clippings after a couple of pass-throughs with the mower. We also composted food scraps there. And, it’s where one year we dumped the seeds and “guts” of the pumpkins that we’d carved for Halloween–and then after Halloween, where we tossed the pumpkins themselves. Keep in mind this was no fancy garden. We’d just outlined a rectangular area with pavers, in a sunny spot in our yard, and just kept filling it with grass clippings. A year later we had pumpkin vines taking over our yard. Without doing anything at all, we’d grown ourselves enough pumpkins to decorate for that Halloween. Do you have a sunny spot in your yard where you can try this DIY trick?
FREE TRICK OR TREATING EVENTS
One of the ways you can save money on Halloween is going somewhere else for your children’s trick or treating. Lots of malls, retailer centers and stores often have kid-oriented trick or treating events right around Halloween. Some are on Halloween; others in the days before.
KIDS EAT FREE ON HALLOWEEN
Halloween happens to be one of those food holidays that I’ve covered and during which you’ll usually find tons of kids eat free deals. What a great time to be off the hook for cooking dinner–Halloween night. Some of the restaurants I’ve heard of letting kids eat for free on Halloween include Waffle House, White Castle and Chili’s.
REUSE HALLOWEEN CANDY
No, I’m not suggesting that you keep last year’s Halloween candy around and reuse it this year. Rather, here are 5 ways to reuse Halloween candy to help you save money on lunches and future celebrations:
- Freeze it for later use. Toss the chocolate candy in the freezer so it doesn’t melt or spoil before you can enjoy it. When you get a sweet craving, you’ll know where your stash is (albeit cold but fresh).
- Bake with it. I know plenty of at-home chefs who raid their kids’ M&Ms and Snickers bars, and use them to whip up some delicious desserts.
- Pack it in lunches. To me excess Halloween candy=saving money on packed lunches. You can probably get away with no snacks necessary for a month if you start using the Halloween candy in your kids’ (or your own) lunchboxes.
- Use it for crafts. I think the best crafty way I’ve seen for reusing Halloween candy is to save and use it for a holiday Advent calendar.
- Stockpile it for future celebrations. I’ve heard of moms who repurpose Halloween candy into the goody bags they give out for the kids’ birthdays. Guess that would be a money saver, huh?
Finally, here is a video of a segment I did years ago on how to save money on Halloween. The advice still applies today!