It's scary how much money we spend on Halloween. After saying 'boo' to the haunted eve last year, Americans are ready to get their ghoul on by shelling out more money this season. According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), the average person will spend $66 on Halloween and total holiday spending will reach nearly $6 billion.
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That's a spooktacular sum to spend on one evening, and you could easily gobble up your budget if you're not carful. Try these five tips to help cut your Halloween spending this year and still have a frightfully good time.
1. Devilish decorations on the cheap. The NRF says we'll spend an average of $18.66 on decorations alone. Sure, setting up a haunted house is an expensive endeavor, but tricking out your front door for treaters can be done on the cheap. Just skip the plastic novelty gimmick items sold in stores and opt for a classic pumpkin Jack O’Lantern to save big.
Buying a few pumpkins from the store is not only an environmentally friendly option (you can compost the pumpkin afterwards), but will cost you just a few bucks per scary face. To slice up the perfect pumpkin you'll need a sharp knife and a big spoon—see How to Carve a Pumpkin (without losing a finger)—then download a few free scary pumpkin stencils or scary pumpkin faces to keep things frugal. Set your Jack O’Lantern ablaze with candles, or reuse your Christmas lighting for a no-flame option.
2. Custom costumes for less cost. When it comes to how much money partygoers will spend this year, costumes take up the largest slice of budgets, costing $23.37 on average. Unless you need inexpensive fake fangs or speciality make-up to get the perfect look, it makes little sense to blow good money on disposable garb. Instead, go shopping for Halloween ware in your closet to reuse what you have and spin it into something special.
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Got a blue dress? Make a set of red horns and go as a Devil with a Blue Dress On. If you've got old wedding wear—a bridesmaid dress or wedding gown—go as a Beauty Pageant Winner by adding a Miss Congeniality sash. Men can reuse their clothing too by dressing as a decade (black leather jacket and blue jeans for the 50s), wearing a sports uniform (baseball or football player), and even coordinating in a solid color and becoming Mr. Blue, Mr. Orange, or Mr. Pink. Try these 10 Halloween Costume Ideas for Kids and Adults and 10 Cheap Last Minute Halloween Costume Ideas to get dressed for less.
3. Scary sweets, minus the sugary sticker shock. How much are you spending on sweets this year? Spending $20.29 on candy makes your treat budget the national average. To cut the sugar from your spending and boost a sweet return for trick-or-treaters, add a visit to the bulk food section to your grocery shopping list. Buying wrapped candy in bulk can save you 30 percent over packaged sweets, and opting for non-Halloween themed hard candies over bite-sized chocolate bars can save you some serious cash too.
4. Homemade Halloween treats for kids. Halloween-themed cookies, cakes, and other baked treats cost a premium in grocery stores, but making them at home is not only a cost saver -- it's a fun activity for your kids! So save some dough by buying an inexpensive cake mix and some frosting -- or make some from scratch at home -- and get your kids into the scary spirit by decorating their own Halloween baked treats.
This 5 Frightfully Fun Halloween Cupcakes article shows you how to decorate a green Frankenstein, a Yummy Mummy, and various ghouls. If you want a healthier option that's still easy on the budget, check out these Gross, Easy, and Fun Halloween Foods for Kids. These Halloween recipes boast fresh fruits, various nuts, and nut butters to make fun faces out of wholesome foods.
5. Ghoulish greetings cards. The average American will spend $3.95 on greeting cards this Halloween. If you're the creepy card type, then stock up on your Halloween cards on November 1st, when greeting card prices are discounted by at least 50 precent. Buying Halloween-themed cards, candies, decorations, and costumes after the big night is always the best way to find the cheapest holiday thrills while spending less.
Kerry K. Taylor writes at Squawkfox.com, a blog where personal finance and frugal living are sexy, delicious, and fun. Kerry is the author of 397 Ways To Save Money: Spend Smarter & Live Well on Less.