Fall has officially arrives once those lattes, soups and even once-tasty and regular old manly beer morph into flavors of pumpkin spice.
With Fall comes the potential for some big wallet-busters. From back-to-school to Thanksgiving all the way through the Holidays, there are plenty of opportunities to drain the funds.
Sandwiched right in the middle of that is Halloween. And there are plenty of retailers that are happily cashing in.
Halloween is now big business with the average American getting ready to dish out close to $83 on this year’s festivities alone, according to The National Retail Federation.
When you account for an entire family of Trick or Treaters, that cost can increase exponentially into the triple digits. Costumes. Candy. Decorations. It all adds up to heavy spending for in October.
Here are our Money Saving Halloween Hacks to cut costs this Halloween season:
Be thrifty on those costumes
The average cost of a child’s costume is $30 at the usual suspects for retail shopping. Adult variations are generally double that price.
Save big by looking around the house for items to up your costume game. For example: aluminum foil cooking pans spray painted green make a perfect Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle shell.
Timing matters when shopping for costumes, too. Hitting the aisles later in the season can yield you savings of 50-75 percent. But you also run the risk of less selection. Early shoppers can also capitalize on off-season pricing by finding a costume a few months in advance from an online retailer or any of the costume stores that open in late September.
Your local thrift store is a great, and often overlooked resource, too, where you’re likely to find accessories from vampire capes to princess tiaras. Mix and match some of the items off of the racks to creative original costumes. For example: leggings with an oversized blouse and a bandana constitute all of the makings of a pirate, and the cost of all three items at a thrift shop can run less than $10 total.
The great candy debate
While chocolate may be the undisputed king of tasty goodness, it can weigh heavily on the wallet when stocking up for a big giveaway. If looking to slash some spending on the treats you’ll give out on Halloween, look to the candy counterparts and avoid the milk chocolatey yumminess — or at least just save the chocolate treats for your own enjoyment.
The cost of candy per ounce or unit is drastically lower than the chocolate bars available in the same aisle. In other words, you get more bang for your Halloween buck. Items like Twizzlers ($0.04 per 120 piece bag); Skittles ($0.07 per 172 item bag); and the mashup of Nerds, Sweetarts and Bottlecaps ($0.08 per 300 pieces) beat out the competition of Snickers ($0.16 per 70 items) and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups ($0.18 per 100 pieces) every single time.
Side note – Help Kids Avoid Binge Eating Candy
The average trick or treater consumes up to 7,000 calories in candy during Halloween. That’s enough sugar to fill almost three coffee mugs and would take close to 60 hours pounding away on a treadmill to burn off.
Let’s not even talk about the damage that sugar does to the teeth.
To keep children from going overboard on the candy, chocolate, and snacks this year, establish a few hard and fast rules:
- Set limits – Instead of total restriction, allow the kids to enjoy a little bit of candy each day (say, one or two pieces) and stick to that rule.
- Let’s make a deal – Before the candy eating can begin, children must finish their chores, do their homework, etc.
- Eat your veggies – No candy before a well-balanced meal; enjoy the candy as dessert.
- Fuel up with water – Drinking some H2O can help with satiation before indulging on sweets, helping to temper the temptation to overeat sweets.
- Make a tradeoff – Split the candy haul in half as soon as it enters the home with the promise of dispensing your half of the booty as future treats, donating it to charity, or making a candy jar for your office.
- Avoid the big hits – If you’re going to be giving out candy, stock up on the items your kids don’t like to keep them from raiding the pantry.
- Bury the treasure – Kids are fantastic scavengers, so find unconventional places around the house to store the leftover goods to prevent kids from breaking the rules and getting into the candy when they’re not supposed to.
Side Note (Pt. 2) – What to Do With Leftover Halloween Candy
- Send it to overseas troops via resources like Operation Shoebox.
- Encourage a trade-in of candy for things like books or toys.
- Check with your child’s dentist to see if they offer “buy back” programs where you can exchange sweets for cash, movie tickets, or other non-food goodies.
- Set some candy aside for goodie bags at a future party, or even fill a piñata for later use.
- Decorate a picture frame or gingerbread house.
- Melt the chocolate down and turn into molds.
- Use leftover chocolates in recipes: like brownies, cookies and cakes
- Trail Mix – toss candies like M&Ms with pretzels, mixed nuts and dried fruit for some ready-made snacks.
- Give the candy away to charities that accept candy donations – nursing homes, veterans’ homes, women’s charities, and Ronald McDonald Houses are great places to start.
- Wine tasting – pairing chocolate with wine is a great way for the adults to enjoy the leftovers.
Get creative for decorations
Halloween is all about letting the imagination run wild on things like party ideas and costumes. You can get creative with the decorations as well. Something as simple as a piece of cardboard can be cut and spray painted to resemble a tombstone; cored apples can be used as taper candle holders; and old clothes can be stuffed with newspapers to create a scarecrow.
Not feeling that creative itch? No problem. A quick online search at a Dollar Store revealed great savings on items like decorative skulls and lighting fixtures for the yard that come in at just $1. Compare that to the same product at a larger retail brand that drove the price up to almost $5 per light and we’re talking some serious savings.
Get ready for next year
Start the search for next year’s big party early. As early as November 1st, the cost on Halloween decorations, costumes and candies drop by as much as 50 percent. Hit the aisles, find a few worthwhile items to store for 2017 and save big while getting a leg up in the party planning game.
Then you can use the excess savings on that pumpkin spice latte.
Now it’s YOUR turn. Chime in below with your tips, tricks, and Money Saving Halloween Hacks to keep the wallet from busting.