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Halloween doesn’t have to shock your budget 

While the economy is uncertain, two things you can know for sure – your kids are going to want to go trick-or-treating this year, and the cost of costumes, decorations and candy adds up quickly. So be a good “mummy” and follow these 13 simple and practical tips. Your kids will have a spooktacular Halloween and you won’t leave your bank account in a frightful state.

Budget-friendly Halloween tips

1Reuse and recycle Halloween costumes

Most new costumes only get worn once or twice, so to save money your kids can:

  • Save and wear hand-me-down costumes from older siblings.
  • Trade costumes with friends or extended family.
  • Hold a neighborhood or community costume swap.
  • Shop for used costumes at the thrift store, consignment shops and on eBay or Craigslist.

2Purchase multi-use and multi-purpose costumes

When you shop, think about how a costume can be refashioned and recycled, or consider how a costume can become part of a child’s dress-up wardrobe that can be used year-round.

3Make it yourself

Many costumes lend themselves to self-styling (e.g., soldiers, princesses, ghosts, scarecrows, animals and more) — the only limitation is your imagination. Look around the house, since many of the things you have on hand can be used to make great costumes. A trip to the thrift store will not only give you some great costume ideas, but also some great bargains on what you need to help your children look their best while trick-or-treating.

4Shop online for costumes

The advent of the Internet has made costume shopping much easier, and in many cases less expensive. The Internet has a seemingly endless number of costume merchants, which makes it easy to comparison shop and hunt down the best deals. Also, some merchants offer online discounts and many offer free shipping with minimum purchases.

5Wait until the last minute

This is not the most appealing alternative for a number of reasons, but if you wait until Oct. 30, or even Halloween itself, you can find good deals on ready-made costumes — but plan to be very flexible. If your child has her heart set on a particular costume, you probably don’t want to try this one.

6Don’t pay twice

Once you have your child’s costume, safely tuck it away someplace until they need it for a party or for trick-or-treating. If you let your child play in his costume before Halloween, you risk having to replace it. There’s plenty of time for dress-up after the holiday.

7Buy now for next year

If you have the storage space, stock up on Halloween decorations after Halloween and put them away to use next year. Post-holiday shopping can easily save you 75 percent or more.

8Make your own Halloween decorations

  • Gravestones can be made from Styrofoam, a can of paint and a broad-tipped marker.
  • Black lights, fluorescent paint or chalk, and a black sheet help create a spooky backdrop for the porch.
  • Colored paper bags with cut-out jack-o-lantern faces and tea candles are a cheap way to light the path to the front door.
  • Paper plates, paint, pipe cleaners and construction paper make great spiders.
  • Tissue paper, cotton balls, rubber bands, and a black marker make great ghosts.

9Shop online for decorations

Countless online merchants offer great deals on holiday decorations and gear. From orange lights to pumpkins, from cats to music CDS, just about anything you can imagine is available online — and often at great prices, especially if you can find a discount code.

10Buy in bulk

Save money by coordinating with friends and neighbors when you buy candy and treats. Purchasing as a group and splitting the cost will allow you to shop for extra-large bags of candy at your local big-box store.

11Buy cheaper Halloween candy

Sugar-based candy (e.g., SweeTarts, lollipops, etc.) tend to be much cheaper than chocolate-based candy.

12Don’t over-buy

Try to buy only the amount of candy you need for trick-or-treaters based on last year’s traffic. Your wallet and your waistline will thank you.

13Dollar stores

Instead of dishing out candy to trick-or-treaters, consider trinkets. Many fun and inexpensive bag stuffers (e.g., stickers, pencils, erasers, glow-in-the dark jewelry, bouncy balls and plastic vampire teeth) are available at your local dollar store or from a number of online vendors. Another upside to non-perishable treats is that whatever you don’t use you can put away for next year.

Just because money is tight, it doesn’t mean you have to give up all the fun things in life. Being a strategic shopper is all it takes to have a hair-raising — and money-saving — Halloween!

More budget-friendly Halloween tips

Halloween on a budget: Costume DIY
How to have a Halloween party for a big crowd
Halloween crafts and activities for kids

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