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6 Money-Saving Tricks For A Budget-Friendly Halloween

Michelle Summerfield

Oct 09, 2019 5 min read

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If you’re tight on cash, holidays like Halloween can seriously test your budgeting skills. Between work parties, get-togethers with friends and dressing the kiddos up, it can be a big hit on your wallet. The mere thought of it all could have you scared silly. But there’s no need to fear!

It’s still possible to have a spooktacular time and not go broke. Try these simple money-saving tricks to stay on budget this Halloween.

1. Keep candy under control

It’s easy to get heavy-handed when you’ve got adorable mini superheroes, animals, and princesses coming to your door. But choosing to set a limit on how much you hand out will stretch your candy budget further. And if you know how many kids you had last year, it’ll be easier to understand how much to buy.

Tricks to keep treats budget-friendly

  • Control portions - instead of giving handfuls, give only a few pieces.

  • Buy in bulk or no name.

  • Think outside of the box - buy pencils, erasers etc. from the dollar store.

  • Buy candy you don’t like to stop from snacking.

  • Don’t buy full-size bars!

  • Don’t create candy bags, it’s unnecessary and wasteful.

  • Use Flipp, or other online sites and apps to hunt down savings and coupons.

  • Try and buy last minute to get the best deals.

2. DIY decorations outside and inside your home

Let’s face it, your house might already be overflowing with sports gear, holiday decorations, and extra kitchen gadgets. Why clutter it more with Halloween decorations? And who needs a giant inflatable witch for the yard that only contributes to your hydro bill?

Instead, plan an outing to a local farm where you can spend the afternoon sipping cider, going on hayrides, and letting your children pick out a pumpkin or two. Make a full family day of it! If you happen to be a green thumb, you could even try growing pumpkins for the following year.

Here are a few more DIY decoration ideas:

  • Search Pinterest for “budget Halloween," and you’ll find everything from kids parties, to easy dollar store buys, to low-cost costumes.

  • Grab free stencils online for carving creative pumpkin designs.

  • Use boxes around the house to create a cardboard cemetery. 

3. Look for free family fun

There are always loads of harvest festivals, fall fests, and Halloween festivals - and they’re usually free. Don’t be afraid to take advantage of what’s going on in your community, church, or at nearby farms.  

Check out the community boards in your local coffee shop, your local community newspaper, and church community board for free activities.

Want to stay at home instead? Create your own fun by hosting a Halloween movie marathon. Take out movies for free from your local library, or check to see if your library has a free streaming service, make some Halloween inspired popcorn and drinks, and let the fear fest begin!

4. Get creative with costumes

Halloween is just one night. Dropping a ton of cash on costumes your kids may outgrow or that you know you won’t love next year might not make a lot of sense. If you want to make an effort but still save money, there are lots of creative ways to get a costume for less:

  • Instead of handing over hundreds for Marvel superhero costumes, financial expert Dave Ramsey suggests creating a game of it. Here’s how: head to your local consignment or thrift shop, give each child an envelope with $5 to $10 in it, then split into teams to either find a costume or custom creation. It’s a fantastic way to not only do Halloween for less but also teach your kids budgeting skills.

  • Create a costume chest from past Halloween costumes, old clothes and shoes, and you’ve created your own costume shop that can be used year-round.

  • Do a costume swap with friends, co-workers, neighbours or family and ask to borrow a costume you loved. It’s FREE and fun!

5. Parties and family traditions

With any holiday comes parties, get-togethers and an equal measure of family traditions. While there’s nothing wrong with any of these, it’s quite easy to spend way more than you expected. When faced with invites and keeping up traditions, here are a few ideas to make it wallet-friendly:

  • Say NO. There’s no law saying you have to attend every party and uphold every single tradition.

  • Host a Fall movie night with Halloween and fall-themed movies and treats.

  • Harvest themed cooking day - try making a pumpkin pie or caramel apples.

  • Pack a picnic lunch and take the whole family hiking to watch the leaves change colour.

6. Pets

Who hasn’t had fun dressing their pets up for Halloween? But if you’re on a budget this Halloween, adding one more costume to the list can be tricky! Here are a few ideas to dress your pets and stay on budget: 

  • Stick to homemade.

  • Keep it simple with just a hat, cape or wings - remember, not all pets enjoy being dressed up.

  • Raid your closet. An old t-shirt or tank top has loads of potential, they can easily be painted or embellished to look like uniforms or other characters.

  • Most of all, don’t endanger your pet! The Toronto Humane Society offers some great tips about Halloween and costume safety for your furry friend. 

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There’s no right way or wrong way to do Halloween. Going broke for a one day dress up isn’t in anyone's plans. As long as loved ones are together and there’s a lot of laughing, playing and blessings involved, you’ll never go wrong — even on a tight budget. Have a Happy Halloween!

Michelle Summerfield
Michelle Summerfield
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Michelle Summerfield is a writer and speaker who shares insights on finances, travel, and minimalism. Her work has been featured in Toronto Life, Globe and Mail, Credit Canada and on the CBC.