Living with credit

Halloween expenses shouldn’t be scary

Kimberley Carmona

Don’t let Halloween haunt your bank account.

From pumpkin carving to haunted houses, there are plenty of Halloween festivities for people to enjoy, but beware the prices.

For example, when I was a sophomore in college, I was searching for a Robin costume. Stores were selling the costume for $50-$60. After calling multiple places, I found a store that allowed me to rent the outfit for $20.

According to the National Retail Federation, 171 million Americans will spend an average of $82.93 on Halloween, an increase of $8.59 from last year. That means that Americans will spend an expected $8.4 billion this Halloween season.

Whether you’re buying candy for the trick-or-treaters, decorations for your home, costumes for the kids (or for a contest at a bar or party) or pumpkins for your jack-o-lanterns, here are ways you can save a bit so those Halloween costs won’t haunt you until Thanksgiving:

It isn’t Halloween if there’s no candy for the kids (and the adults, too). Instead of purchasing candy at the last minute, be on the lookout for discounts and store coupons. If you are prone to forgetting coupons at home, you can download digital coupons from apps, such as Flipp, or websites, such as and

If you shop at a warehouse club, buy your trick-or-treats in bulk instead of paying for smaller-size packages. And don’t feel locked into buying just Snickers, Hershey or other big name-brand sweets. You can save by buying an assortment of candy from the dollar store, such as the Fun Mix from Dollar Tree. If you don’t want to pass out candy, you can find Halloween-themed pencils and erasers for cheap at dollar stores.

Pinterest is a crafter’s best friend. You can find thousands of ideas on how to decorate a house, classroom or party without breaking the bank. From witch hats made from old party hats and paper plates to spider webs made from cut-up garbage bags, guests will be creeped out by decorations made of items found around the house.

Family Dollar and Dollar General also sell crafting items for a couple of bucks. Want to create an eyeball wreath? You can probably find a box of ping pong balls, googly eyes and a foam wreath for less than $10. If you are not the creative type, dollar stores can also provide quirky finds that will give Freddy Krueger a fright. At Dollar Tree, you can probably find skulls, dismembered body parts, packages of hairy spiders and other frightening items.

Costumes can be the most expensive item on your Halloween list. Instead of throwing money on an outfit you wear only once, consider going to a thrift store to find something new and different. Thrift shops also often sell Halloween makeup, costume accessories and wigs for less than your average retail store. Whether you are going as a princess or a zombie, you likely will be able to find what you need to dress the part for half the cost.

To create costumes from scratch, check YouTube videos and blogs for guides and tutorials. Another way to save money is by looking at costume shops. A few will allow you to rent costumes for not too much if you reserve them ahead of time.

Compare prices between all your outfitting options to save when creating your spook-tacular look.

Carving pumpkins is a must for Halloween. To save green when purchasing the orange gourds, call ahead to different pumpkin patches before visiting them to find the best deal. Check websites to find deals or coupons. One thing to note is that most grocery stores will have pumpkins for less than you might pay at pumpkin patches. And some pumpkin patches may not take credit cards.

If you’re worried about how to make your pumpkin last until Halloween, there are plenty of ways to make pumpkins last. One example: According to the Kitchn, refrigerate your jack-o-lantern overnight so it can rehydrate. Do some research on what works best for you, and you won’t have to buy another pumpkin the day before Halloween.

Search for creative ways to save money while celebrating and having fun this Halloween. Any tips for saving ahead of Thanksgiving. Email at Or tweet me your tips at @kimsbers.

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