Budget Halloween: Tips to save scary money on candy and costumes

Americans will spend $8.4 billion on Halloween this year. GoMN has some tips to help you cut costs.
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Americans are expected to spend $8.4 billion celebrating Halloween.

This frightening statistic was revealed by the National Retail Foundation last month, after shoppers told the organization they expect to spend almost $83 on average for the holiday this year.

But with Halloween just the first of the three big holiday season celebrations to budget for – not to mention the Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping in between – we've put together some money-saving tips ahead of Oct. 31. Today, we have cost-cutting ideas for candy and costumes.

Candy

If you're expecting scores of creepy Trick or Treaters to rap on your front door on Halloween, then you'll need a plentiful supply of candy. Some pointers for when you're shopping.

Buy in bulk:

One of the best places to get good value for money on candy is at warehouse clubs like CostCo and Sam's Club, according to U.S. News. It means you can buy in bulk at discounted prices, as well as cut down on the cost of having to make last-minute dashes to the grocery store if you run out.

Plus, there should be plenty left over for you to munch on yourself.

You can also get decent discounts if you buy in bulk online from companies like Oriental Trading Co., which has a massive Halloween selection.

Don't buy chocolate:

According to CandyBlog, chocolate costs about 20 percent more on average than hard candy, plus chocolate is more likely to become smeared all over your child's face.

Discounts and coupons:

Dollar stores are also a cheap, useful source of candy, and while the selection may not be as varied, you'll be sure to get decent offers compared to big-box stores, Momtastic suggests.

If you are going to a big-box store, check ahead of time for any coupons you can use.

CBS News suggests taking advantage of the "buy one, get one" discounts many of these stores will be running when you double up on candy purchases, as well as making use of store loyalty programs.

LifeHacker did a piece last year on the best stores to buy candy and found CostCo was best for full-sized candy and hard candy, while Target was best for mini-sized candy and salty snacks.

Wait to buy:

The Balance recommends waiting until a few days before Halloween before buying candy. Retailers will start slashing prices the closer we get to Oct. 31 so a little patience can pay off.

Costumes

Costumes can be expensive, and the best way to save on them is by, you know, not going to any parties or celebrating Halloween in any way at all. But if you prefer to have a social life on Oct. 31, here are some tips:

Buy early – like, really early:

If you do want to get your Halloween decorations – or costumes for that matter – at a big-box retailer, the best time to actually do it is in the week or so AFTER Halloween when goods will be heavily discounted. DontPayFull says sometimes costumes sell at just 10 percent the original price.

Ok, so this doesn't help you for this year, but it will give you a jump on preparations for next year so you have less to plan.

Dress as a scarecrow:

Reader's Digest suggests scarecrow costumes are easy and cheap to put together as you can pick up ratty old jeans, shirts, gloves etc. at garage sales, which you can then stuff with straw – or wadded up newspaper, even.

For the mask, wrap some plain, muslin fabric over your head (a few bucks from fabric stores) and draw a face on.

Other cheap costume ideas:

TheKrazyCouponLady has suggestions for how to make cheap Star Wars, black cat and fairy princess costumes right here.

Head to a thrift store:

For cheap clothing that could be turned into costumes, thrift stores are popular places for Halloween shoppers. The Dave Ramsey blog suggests families can turn it into a game for kids, giving them an envelope filled with $5 or $10 and telling them to buy their costume within that limit.

Don't buy from the Halloween section:

Money Crashers has this useful little tip if you're shopping for children's costumes at a big-box store: don't buy a costume from the Halloween section. Instead look for the "dress up" section that they have all year round.

There will be a selection of costumes, such as princesses, that aren't marketed for Halloween and as such don't have the huge mark-up. The website suggests you could pick up a costume for $20 compared to $50 in the Halloween section.

Up next

On Wednesday, GoMN will take a look at ways to save money on Halloween decorations and pumpkins.

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