5 Reasons to Delay Halloween Shopping

You might want to put off your purchases to save your health, and your money.

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Halloween can be a bag of financial tricks. Total spending for the 2010 Halloween spending season is expected to hit $5.8 billion, according to the National Retail Federation, an industry association. U.S. shoppers will spend an average of $66 on costumes, candy and decorations, according to NRF’s 2010 Halloween Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey. That’s up from $56.31 in 2009.

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The average $66 Halloween shopping bag will be filled with $23.37 on costumes, $20.29 on candy, $18.66 on decorations, and nearly $4 on greeting cards, the survey showed. (See also 28 ways to have cheaper Halloween fun.)

“In recent years, Halloween has provided a welcome break from reality, allowing many Americans a chance to escape from the stress the economy has put on their family and incomes,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “This year, people are expected to embrace Halloween with even more enthusiasm, and will have an entire weekend to celebrate since the holiday falls on a Sunday.”

But you don’t have to buy into the hype. Here are five reasons why you should postpone your Halloween celebrations:

Post-holiday discounts: Although some merchants promote pre-holiday discounts, you can save more money by shopping after October 31. Post-holiday discounts typically range from 50 percent to 75 percent off full prices, with savings jumping to 90 percent by mid-November. Markdowns apply to costumes, candy, decorations and miscellaneous products. One year, for example, we found costumes priced at $5 and under, down from $20, and boxes of Halloween-themed facial tissues for 50 cents a box.

Toxic chemicals: Seasonal cosmetics—face paints, lipsticks and powders—can contain lead, potentially harmful chemicals and fragrances, according to the Environmental Working Group, a non-profit eco-friendly and public safety group. Fragrances found in many cosmetics “may contain allergens or hormone-disrupting chemicals,” EWG reports.

Likewise, some popular lipstick brands contain lead. “Face paints can contain lead, which can impair brain development at extremely low doses, as well as nickel, cobalt and chromium, which can cause skin sensitization and contact dermatitis,” according to the EWG. Before stocking up and applying Halloween makeup, spend time researching the safety of cosmetics and personal-care products. EWG operates a database, ranking cosmetics for safety.

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Recycle: Halloween does not have to be pulled out of a new box or a fresh bag of treats. Unusual merchandise, including costumes and decorations, can be found at thrift stores, online auctions and consignment stores. The best deals, however, may be available after October 31.

Dental plan: Cavities and dental costs are on the rise, according to national surveys. Over the past decade, the number of cavities reported in children ages 2 to 5 years has risen by 15 percent, according to a 2007 study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And from 2009 through 2019, annual dental expenditures are forecasted to jump to $161 billion, a 58 percent, according to a recent report from the Pew Center.

Preserve your dental health (and potentially reduce healthcare costs) by avoiding candy on Halloween. Procrastination has perks: If you purchase candy after the holiday, there will be a less of a selection, and the prices will be cheaper. Have too much stocked up? Check out 10 things you can do with leftover candy.

Sanity-savers: Halloween shopping has merged into the annual year-end shopping marathon, which includes Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and assorted December holidays. It’s a 12-week ritual of cash registers, long lines and spending. Postpone the holiday crush, preserve your sanity and conserve cash by delaying your Halloween shopping.

Sharon Harvey-Rosenberg is a special financial news contributor for Wise Bread. She is the author of "Frugal Duchess: How to Live Well and Save Money” and a contributing author to ”10,001 Ways to Live Large on a Small Budget.”