Halloween is for dressing up, decorating, and trick-or-treating, and the celebration of this annual event seems to get bigger every year. Unlike other major holidays, there’s no gift exchange, but a good deal of money is involved, nevertheless.
Last year, consumers spent an estimated $9 billion to celebrate Halloween, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF), with the average American spending about $90 each.
If you’re one of those who loves to get into the spirit of the season, Billshark thought we would share a few ways you can still have fun while going easy on your wallet.
The most expensive outlay involving Halloween purchases, says the NRF, is for costumes. This includes costumes for pets, which have taken off in popularity the last few years.
One way good to save here is to hit the thrift stores, especially for the kids. Goodwill, for example, sets up their special Halloween racks as early as August, and has a wide selection of fun, imaginative costumes available. Another option is to swap costumes with friends, or check out Craigslist or Freecycle for costumes people want to get rid of.
The other way is to be creative, and put together a costume from things you have around the house. Can you borrow an old military uniform from a retired relative? Or a pair of scrubs from someone who works in a hospital? Any long dress can be transformed into a fairy-princess or goddess costume, while a horizontal-striped shirt could provide the basis of a pirate getup. And of course, with an old bed sheet, you can become a ghost, a mummy, or an ancient Roman in a toga.
What would Halloween be without candy? The tradition of kids going door-to-door goes back to the Middle Ages, but wasn’t popularized in its modern form until the early 1950s.
While you might be able to score some great candy deals earlier in the month, unless you have iron willpower, chances are you’ll be dipping into the bags long before the big night, then have to go out and replenish your stock the afternoon of Oct. 31. So you’ll end up paying double.
The solution: Either buy candy you won’t be tempted to touch, or wait until a few days before Halloween to buy. Nearly all of it is on sale right now, and you can nab coupons for additional savings either online or in the Sunday newspaper. And be sure to take advantage of store rewards programs, either at grocery stores or drugstores where you have loyalty cards.
A tip: Chocolate prices have been creeping up recently, so look for candy that doesn’t contain this costly commodity.
One of the great things about Halloween is that you can decorate on the cheap, and no one is likely to know the difference. The dollar stores are piled high with Halloween-themed items, and you only need a few to create the ambience you need. And as with costumes, a little ingenuity can pay off.
- Grab a pumpkin from the grocery store (cheaper there than pick-your-own) and carve your own jack o’ lantern.
- Hang a dollar-store cardboard skeleton on the front door, and scatter autumn leaves from your yard on side tables.
- If your daughter has an old doll she can part with, a little paint can turn her face into something Chucky-worthy.
- Tombstones can be made from foam insulation sheets, old wood, even gray or black poster board. Ditto black cats and bats.
As for atmosphere, this one’s easy: Just turn down the lights, add a few dollar-store candles (far away from possible costume contact, please!) and you’re there.
Halloween is all about fun, so let your imagination run wild.
Meanwhile, don’t be spooked into thinking there’s nothing you can do about your huge bills. Billshark has expert negotiators standing by, ready to save you serious money. Remember, it costs you nothing to let us make the attempt.