Fall is upon us, and with it, the season of tricks and treats. Although Halloween is a fun-filled time for the entire family, it can also be rife with expenses, which many fail to factor into overall holiday budgeting each year: shopping for the latest “must-have” superhero costumes; hosting parties; buying decorations to transform the living room into a haunted house; handing out candy…. If not put in check, the vampires of Halloween could suck your account dry.
With just a few cost-cutting measures below and some effective budgeting techniques, avoid getting tricked into overspending and have a ghoulishly great time with your family this season.
- Craft your own Halloween decorations: Not only is channeling your inner do-it-yourselfer a fantastic way to kick off the holiday season and get your family in the spirit, it reduces costs considerably. Visit your local thrift or discount store to find some inexpensive crafting materials (yarn, fabric, construction paper, popsicle sticks, etc.) or learn how to use everyday items from around the house to conjure up some spooky decorations for your home. One simple, inexpensive idea: use a marker to draw a ghost or jack-o-lantern face on the outside of a gallon-size milk jug filled with a small strand of lights or a candle. Or, craft a few creepy sets of glowing eyes to adorn your trees or bushes by cutting small holes in empty paper towel or toilet paper tubes and adding a glow stick to the center.
- Make your party a potluck: Resurrect your family’s love for Halloween by hosting a neighborhood potluck where everyone brings a spooky side dish to share. Scan online for some inexpensive recipes including candy-corn sugar cookies, pumpkin dips, peeled grape “eyes,” mummy’s brownies, bug juice punch, and bloody sangria.
- Carve out some room in your budget for a great pumpkin: Carving a pumpkin is a Halloween celebration essential. Try to avoid a trip to the local pumpkin patch, however; you’ll pay a premium on pumpkins, and most likely purchase additional treats, or an overpriced haunted hayride. Save some cash by waiting to pick up your pumpkin from your local grocery store a few days before Halloween when they are on sale. (Waiting just a few days before Halloween also avoids the temptation of carving your pumpkin too early and having it decompose on your front porch.)
- Explore alternatives to overpriced Halloween candy: Avoid the sticker shock of large bags of candy and opt to instead hand out creative items to the neighborhood like: glow-in-the-dark bracelets and necklaces, stickers, stamps, pencils, bouncy balls, fruit snacks, juice boxes, loose change, and much more.
- Coordinate a cooperative costuming collaboration: There’s no need to dip into your savings accounts to outfit your family this season. Arrange some time with friends, family and neighbors to pool your previous Halloween’s costuming resources (fabric, props, costume accessories, etc) together. This gathering is not only a fun excuse to host that Halloween potluck party (above), but it’s also a great way to generate inexpensive and creative costuming ideas for everyone involved.
- Find free Halloween events in your local community: Scan local flyers, newspapers and websites to locate cheap (sometimes free) Halloween-themed gatherings for your little goblins. Many local merchants and charities use this time of year as an opportunity to give back to local communities by offering events with free crafts, trick-or-treating, bouncy houses, face painting and costume contests.
Don’t Be Afraid to Budget for the Holidays
Budgeting is a fantastic way to keep your financial train on the tracks year-round but is also an essential tool to help you effectively plan for the holiday season. Start early and set some realistic parameters to help rein in spending. Set aside a specific dollar amount in your budget to cover decorations, costumes, treats, parties and more, and then stick to it.
Halloween is also a great opportunity to talk to your kids about the importance of saving money. Discussing budgeting early sets realistic expectations for the upcoming season of gift-giving. Get your kids in on the action and let them surprise you with unexpected creativity and resourcefulness.
Have a safe and fun Halloween!
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