Now that back-to-school shopping is out of the way, it's time to start focusing on Halloween. It's always a favorite of the kids, but if you're not careful, just the three main aspects - costumes, candy, and parties - can put a big strain on your checkbook. Here are some ways to cut back on each, without it seeming like anyone's doing without.
1. Save on Costumes
If you haven't noticed, the retail price for Halloween costumes in the month of October is absolutely outrageous - everything is marked up. The biggest way to save is to make your own DIY Halloween costumes. Involve the kids in some of the legwork so they know you're trying to cut back, and then comb the house for bedsheets, cardboard boxes, sweatsuits, extra buttons, foam padding, and anything else that might come in handy.
Granted, this idea is a little time consuming, so if you must go the retail route, the sooner you start looking for sales, the better. And consider shopping online. One Google search will turn up plenty of bargains over brick-and-mortar stores, even after you factor in shipping. If you see a deal, jot down the product and search the Internet for a discount code. This time of year, they're everywhere, even if it's just free shipping. Also see if your neighbors would be interested in a costume exchange. There's even a "day" dedicated to this - October 13 is National Costume Swap Day. Remember, it's not old if it's new to you.
2. Save on Candy
Ah, the sweet stuff. Kids clamor, and parents cringe. But on this one day a year, you must surrender - and fortunately, there are many ways to save. Tip number one is to buy in bulk. It's buyer beware at discount stores and dollar stores, because of the quality. But membership stores, such as Sam's Club and Costco, offer good deals on massive bags, as do online vendors like Oriental Trading Company.
Don't let the savings stop there. Decide that each kid will get only one piece (which you place in their goodie bag rather than have them grab a handful), and you won't have to buy as much. Finally, consider this: If you take the whole family out trick-or-treating for the evening, you won't be home and won't have to buy candy at all.
3. Save on Celebrations
If you're having a Halloween party, keep it low-key. Everyone will be munching on candy for most of the night, anyway, so don't go overboard on fancy food or even outlandish appetizers. Next, skip the alcohol. Halloween falls during the week, and neither you nor your guests need a hangover the next day. And for cheap Halloween decorations, this is where the dollar store shines. Halloween is a one-day occasion, so anything you get there is adequate enough to last that long.
Once this Halloween is in the books, do what you can to offset next year's expenses. Keep your costumes packed neatly in storage (for a garage sale or next year's costume swap), and hold on to any unused plates and napkins. For another income boost, try a place like HalloweenCandyBuyback.com, in which dentists band together to keep extra sugary stuff off the streets. And of course, you can always donate it to our candy-starved troops at such websites as OperationGratitude.com. Don't take all of your kids' treasure trove - just enough to make the haul seem normal size.
What other ways can you save on Halloween this year?