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10 Ways to Curb Scary Halloween Spending

halloween spending

Halloween is a favorite holiday of many children, but it can be stressful and expensive for adults. Having just survived back-to-school spending, we grown-ups now get to navigate costumes, food, décor, and spooky events – all without blowing the budget.

According to a 2019 report from the National Retail Federation’s annual survey, U.S. consumers are expected to spend an average of $86.27 last year, down just slightly from 2018 record $86.79. That works out to $8.8 billion in total spending covering Halloween purchases like costumes, decorations, food and greeting cards.

And while 2020 Halloween may look different, with social distancing requirements curtailing traditional activities like parties, Halloween spending can still be concerning for family budgets stretched thin by the impact of financial strain this year. It can be scary for the average family budget.

Here are 10 Ways to Curtail Scary Halloween Spending

Save On Halloween Costumes

  • Start by shopping from your friends and family. Ask whether older children have outgrown any costumes that can be handed down.
  • Hit the thrift stores. All year, resale shops are collecting oddball items to display in October. Give kids the option of one they see at a thrift store.
  • Make your own. Usually, the best costumes are those that no manufacturer could have dreamed up. Since you already own most of the materials, your creativity – not your budget – is the only limit to what you can be for Halloween.

Save On Halloween Decor

  • Look to nature for free or inexpensive décor ideas: Garlands can be made from twine and pinecones found outdoors. A bonus is the woodsy aroma the soft wood pinecones will add to your home – for free!
  • Use household items: To mummify anything – anything – have kids wrap it up in toilet paper and add felt eyes (simple circles). Chairs, lamps, and even entire doors can be mummified for a few pennies.
  • Play spooky music: Music encourages an atmosphere of fun and fright, and with online streaming music stations you can tickle your family’s ears for free.
  • Go googly:  For about a nickel, you can put googly eyes on inanimate household objects to bring them (half-way) to life. Not sure where to start? Think microwave, hand lotions, milk cartons, drawers, and vases.

Save on Halloween Food

  • Shop seasonally. Produce is known for being in- or out-of-season, but holiday candy prices also fluctuate. The best price to stock up would be day-after Halloween, but if you need sweets for trick or treaters, the day of the 31st is your next best option. Often, retailers mark down candy last-minute so they’re not stuck with the extra inventory.
  • Dress up sale candy. When shopping for candy to distribute to trick-or-treaters, don’t grab the Halloween-themed candy at the store. Instead, check the clearance section for marked down items that you can spookify yourself. Once home, have kids help turn unadorned sweets into batty or ghostly characters with these templates from the Hi Sugar Plum blog.
  • Sprinkle savings. Keep a small box of orange and black sprinkles handy for every dessert throughout October.

You don’t need to start winter in financial trouble because of Halloween spending. The same creativity that makes this holiday fun can also make it financially comfortable.


The team at CESI is committed to helping you make wise financial decisions and to helping you understand how to get out, and stay out of debt.  For a free debt analysis, contact us and find out how we can help.

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1 Response to 10 Ways to Curb Scary Halloween Spending

  1. Pamela Feltner says:

    Great ideas!

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