Boo Budgeting: Setting Aside Money for Halloween

Head to your local big box retailer. Go ahead, we dare you. Walk to the promotional aisles. What do you see? No, past the Christmas items that are way too early to be on sale? There’re costumes and makeup and large bags of sugary treats for old and young alike. No, these aren’t for senior citizen drag queens. What you see are the fixings for the upcoming Halloween season.

All Hallow’s Eve is a big deal for retailers — that last push of semi-normal sales before the even bigger push of Christmas-related items which seems to take place at midnight on November 1st. And the holiday is no longer just a week long. Halloween festivities begin toward the end of September and last all month. This means shelves stocked with high-priced costumes and candy for at least six weeks or more. Yes, the holiday full of ghosts and goblins is no longer one filled with $5 boxed costumes and bags of Charms pops.

Actually, if one isn’t careful, Halloween can cost just as much as Christmas when it comes to decorations, food, etc. This means some thought has to be put into it long before the first bag of Tootsie Rolls lands on the shelves. Here are a few things to consider before you start trick or treating.

Costumes

These are no longer the ones you used to purchase in the box. First,┬áthose were a bit unsafe, even though we cherished them as children. Second, people have demanded better costumes over the decades. The result is $20 for even the smallest costumes. Think about this for a moment — it’s a $20 or more investment for a one-time wearing. It’s almost like purchasing a tuxedo to wear once at a prom or wedding. Multiply that with a family, and it can cost a week’s worth of grocery money for new costumes each year.

There are some options. First, there’s no rule that states children can’t wear the same costume two years in a row, let alone passed them down to younger siblings. Consider keeping them in a safe and cool storage area for reuse in the new year. Second, these costumes get the heavy discount treatment come November 1 in order to make way for Christmas items. You may be able to find costumes for yourself and family for up to 75% at this time. Finally, skip the retail outlets and look toward the thrift stores for costume ideas. Places like Arc and Goodwill have racks of clothes which can be used for dress up.

Candy

Determining what you need in your candy budget can be hard. Some years can be so overwhelming you run out of candy in the first 30 minutes. Other times you’re stuck with five pounds of Life Savers. You could certainly spend the money for high-quality candy; however, that means a wasted investment that will last far into Christmas. One thing to do is mix top-name candy from places like Hersey and M&M/Mars with lower-cost candies. In this way less money is spent. Another option is to bite the bullet, spend the money and donate the rest of the candy to a dentist office or military organization.

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