People are making plans to go big this Halloween, with spending in the U.S. expected to reach an all-time high.
Americans celebrate the end-of-October holiday with purchases for costumes, treats and decorations averaging almost $150 per household for those with children. It doesn’t hurt that some of our favorite stores seem to stock shelves earlier than ever, unboxing costumes and decorations alongside back-to-school supplies.
Despite rising prices, you can stay within your budget and still have a ghoulishly good time.
Don’t stock up on sweets too soon
Resist the temptation to buy bags of treats too early. You’ll probably just end up eating them and having to restock before October 31. Instead, wait for the inevitable sales on candy and other items you plan to hand out to tiny witches and superheroes. While new costumes may get snapped up quickly, there are almost always bags (and bags) of candy left over the day after Halloween.
Another money-saving measure is to opt for candy and other treats that aren’t your favorites. Love Reeses peanutbutter cups? Buy BlowPops instead. That way, it’s easier to save them for their original purpose. And if you place your Halloween goodies in a storage container or bag you can’t see through, you are even less likely to bust into the sweets early.
Remember less is more
Halloween is not a competition with your neighbors to see who can stuff the most inflatable decorations on their front lawn. If last year’s decorations still work, great. If not, the kids who visit are there for candy, not an obstacle course of oversized pumpkins and ghosts. Same goes for your front door decor. Use what you already have. If you must buy something new, look to discount stores such as Dollar Tree, where you can get the most bang for your hard-earned bucks.
Pro-tip: You can’t go wrong with plain pumpkins and white lights. Two, or a few, uncarved pumpkins flanking your door and a few white tea lights placed along your walkway set a festive mood for an evening of trick-or-treating. If you live in a cooler climate, the pumpkins can last through November, stretching your decorating dollars even further.
Get creative with costumes
Before you visit your favorite retail stores and online sites for pricey new costumes, take an inventory of your closet or attic for treasures you may have forgotten you already own. If you can’t find what you are looking for there, check out the thrift stores in your area. Goodwill is a great place to find costumes for kids and adults at a fraction of the price you’ll pay for new ones. The bonus? You can create an original ensemble that you likely won’t see anyone else wearing. And when you spend your money at a store such as Goodwill, you are helping fund programs that make your community a better place to live.
Pay with cash or debit
Don’t get spooked when your bills roll in after Halloween. You can make sure you stick to your budget this fall by choosing to use your debit card or cash when making purchases. That way, you won’t end up paying more than you intended in the form of late fees or interest, which can happen when you use your credit card and don’t pay off the entire balance by the due date.
Adapted from an article distributed in partnership with SavvyMoney with reporting by Jean Chatzky and Casandra Andrews.