How to Save on Halloween Costumes

Don't let Halloween costumes cost more than an arm and a leg.

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Here it comes: the time of year when little ghouls, goblins, and witches prowl the streets in search of sugary treasure. In addition to the candy, one of the greatest joys of Halloween is getting dressed up. But costumes can cost more than an arm and a leg, and if you're outfitting more than one creature of the night, the expense can be brutal.

Whether you're shopping for your child or yourself, there are multiple ways you can save on Halloween costumes. Here are four to get you started:

1. Make Them Yourself. Homemade Halloween costumes can be more impressive than store-bought ones. And though doing it yourself means more work, the savings can be tremendous. If you sew, look for free costume patterns online or peruse your local fabric shop for patterns and ideas. Alternatively, you can skip the pattern and put together a costume with your own ingenuity. The dollar store or Goodwill are potential goldmines for materials. Just be sure to check what you already have lying around the house or in storage. Old sheets and curtains are great—and free—materials suitable for a range of costumes.

2. Buy Online. Before you go running to Party City or the pop-up Halloween store, consider buying costumes online. Research multiple sites to find the best deals and don't forget to check eBay for new and barely used costumes for all ages. Just be sure to order far enough in advance to avoid steep costs for last-minute shipping.

3. Organize a Costume Swap. Clothing swaps have become all the rage these days, so why not do the same with Halloween costumes? After all, who wants to wear the same costume two years in a row? And most kids won't fit into last year's costume anyway. Even though you missed out on National Costume Swap day (it was October 13th), plan your own day. Get together with friends and neighbors to see if you can swap your old costume for something new-to-you free of charge.

4. Use a Coupon. Search websites like RetailMeNot.com for printable coupons for costume stores in your area, and peruse the weekly ads delivered to your mailbox. If shopping online, do a quick Internet search for a discount code. Even if you just get the shipping fees knocked off, it's still well worth the effort.

Final Thoughts. Once the holiday is over, save costumes and decor for next year. Costumes can be reused for younger children or at next year's swap, and Halloween decor is pretty much timeless. And remember, it doesn't take a scary amount of money to have a good time on Halloween—just a little ingenuity and effort!

How else can you save money on Halloween costumes?

David Bakke is a writer for MoneyCrashers.com, a site dedicated to helping readers save more. You can learn more about how to save money on Halloween costumes or even make your own homemade DIY Halloween costumes this year.