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As I write this, it is August. The sun is shining. The sky is blue. We are in the depths of summer. And what is my family debating? What we will be for Halloween. You see, in our house, we take Halloween SERIOUSLY. And doing Halloween on a budget means we start early!
In truth, we have been talking about our 2019 costumes since November 1st, 2018. Maybe even BEFORE that! But it’s in the summer that we really nail down our plan and start getting ready.
The earlier we start, the better it is for our budget!
To help you embrace Halloween on a budget, here are our top tips for haunting this spooky season in style, without breaking the bank!
Set a budget.
If Halloween is an EVENT in your home, like it is in mine, you don’t want to go into it unprepared, or unbudgeted. Set an amount that is reasonable and aligns with your financial goals, and then stick to it!
Did you track your spending last year? Take a flip back and see how much you spent. This will give you a ballpark idea for this year’s budget. Or, if you find that you spent way more than you needed to last year, you’ll be ready to go into this season with your intentions set and a bit of restraint!
With the Halloween-specific stores that have started popping up in strip-malls every August (or maybe even all year long!) and the excess of party stores, Halloween has become more and more accessible. It is easy to be sucked down the aisles of themed costumes and accessories, not to mention the displays of decorations that would horrify the neighbourhood.
I’m all for it – I love a well-executed costume as much as the next gal, and I have been guilty of coming home from Superstore with a new skull candy bowl or creepy hand candle more often than I’d like to admit!
But, before you head to the fancy shops, make sure you check out the dollar store’s selection of Halloween haunts. They generally have an aisle of costumes, accessories, and home decor that will make you shiver, and it’s usually far less costly than the holiday-specific stores.
Have a look at the candy too – you can find name brand sweets at a pretty big discount!
Embrace thrift store shopping.
While you are out and about checking out the dollar store, add your local thrift stores to your list. Value Village has made a name for themselves as a Halloween hot-spot, and they sell a huge variety of costumes and accessories. But don’t just head to their holiday section and buy a pre-packaged costume. Peruse the aisles to find deep discounts on costume pieces.
Last year we did the movie Coco as a family. We found the perfect purple coat for Dan’s ‘Hector’ in the ladies outerwear department, and with some scissors and a bit of destruction – it was PERFECT! And it cost EIGHT dollars! We could have searched high and low for a legit Hector costume, but we would have paid ten times as much money for it.
My mom also found this snazzy white suit for my dad’s Ernesto De La Cruz for twelve dollars. Twelve. Dollars! Seriously – you can create amazing costumes with some creativity and budget-friendly thrift store shopping!
Get ahead of the game.
As with everything with intentional personal finance, the key is being intentional and thinking ahead. I know it’s early, but if you can build half of your Halloween spending into your September budget, that will make October all the easier!
And if you start planning your costumes early, you’ll be less likely to succumb to the expensive grocery store costumes and accessories!
You can even set up a sinking fund that you put money into all year. Ten dollars a month set aside can make Halloween way less scary!
DIY – or don’t?
I LOVE me some do-it-yourself costumes. In fact, when we DO buy pre-packaged costumes, I feel like it’s a bit of a fail.
And it CAN be cheaper. But, before you jump into a home-made robot or Pokemon, take some time to consider what supplies you will need and how much it will REALLY cost.
When we did Trolls a few years ago, we thought it would be SO easy (and cheap!) to whip up our home-made costumes.
I spent EASILY $50 on glitter and glue alone to turn Dan into Guy Diamond. It was hilarious, and we had a great time, but it was CERTAINLY not the most frugal Halloween of our lives. Plus, we weren’t using a budget at the time, so we didn’t even worry about the cost. Which probably meant it all went onto a credit card and wouldn’t get paid off for another year. Fail!
(Although, I’d say we looked pretty fantastic!)
On the other hand, do it yourself can be super simple! Back before Waldo was available in every costume shop on earth, we dressed up as Waldo’s for a Disneyland Halloween party event.
We bought white shirts at Walmart for $5 each, a bottle of red fabric paint (with a 40% off coupon at Michaels)! I made the toques myself, and the only extra thing we had to buy was the glasses for Dan. It was EASY, and we had a GREAT time!
My other favourite DIY costume was our Dead Oz group costume. We used bits and pieces from everywhere to pull it together – thrift store plaid shirt, a piece of faux-fur from the fabric store, craft store raffia, and a dollar store scarecrow hat. The only NEW things we bought were my overalls and Dan’s wig. We won the top prize for the costume contest, and the prize money paid for our drinks and our costumes!
I always encourage DIY. Just make sure before you jump in, that it won’t cost a fortune to do. Get creative, and you can rock some awesome costumes on the cheap!
Buy your pumpkins at the grocery store. (But do it early!)
Pumpkin patches. The best! Am I right?? Yah, I already know that I am. There’s nothing better than putting on a cute fall sweater and strolling through the local pumpkin patch. Most of our local farms and corn mazes have pumpkin festivals where pumpkins of every size, shape, and colour are displayed on rustic shelves – be still my basic heart.
In a former life (life before a budget), I have been known to spend an insane amount of money on a small wheelbarrow of ridiculous pumpkins.
We might still go to look and enjoy a crisp fall day as a family. (With a pep talk for me before we go that I do not NEED a $30 blue pumpkin.) But we are more likely to enjoy that autumn breeze on a hike or at a local park – anywhere that doesn’t charge admission to get in!
And as far as the pumpkins go, I’ll be buying them at Walmart when I get my groceries. They usually aren’t more than $5 each, and regardless of where I buy them, at the end of the season, they all wind up in the same spot – in my compost bin!
Be sure to grab them early-ish though. If you wait until the week before Halloween, you’ll probably wind up paying more than you should, just to have a jack-o-lantern on your front steps on October 31st.
It’s always fun to gather together with friends during this spooky season. When you are trying to rock Halloween on a budget, though, a little mindful planning can help you save some money and still have a creep-tastic time!
If you are throwing a Halloween gathering, consider some of these quick tips to save some money:
Make it a potluck. Encourage guests to bring a creepy snack or treat.
Have your friends bring their own pumpkins to a pumpkin carving night.
You don’t have to go crazy on decor. But if you want to…
Get creative at the dollar store – repurpose costume items to add some freaky-flair to your home.
Make sure your DIY projects don’t cost more than just buying items.
Create recycled decorations – milk jug glow-in-the-dark ghosts and spooky toilet paper eyeballs peeking out from the corners are quick and cheap touches!
Cut paper bats from black card stock for a great display – we have been using the same bats for 5 years on our garage and they look amazing!
Encourage your guests to dress the part! Halloween parties are a thousand times more fun when everyone is in costume!
Check out this amazing post from the Prudent Penny Pincher for some inspiring budget Halloween decor!!!
Ok, I’m going to get back to the summer sunshine. And continue the debate of this year’s costumes. I’ve already built a little sinking fund into my budget, so I’m ready for whatever we decide on. However you choose to prepare, make sure you rock your Halloween on a budget. That doesn’t mean you don’t spend any money – just make sure it’s money that you’ve planned to spend in that way. And come by our Facebook page to share YOUR awesome costumes and decor!!