Halloween on a shoestring

#1: Get crafty

From indoor and outdoor decorations to costumes and makeup, Halloween is a holiday that was made for DIY. Instead of buying premade decorations and costumes, hit up your local craft store to purchase the materials you need to make your own Halloween spooks. If you have kids, this can be a fun project for the whole family to enjoy.

Also, don’t waste money on costume makeup. For moms, raid your regular makeup draw and look online to find tutorials on how to do over-the-top makeup using your everyday supplies.

#2: Swap decorations with friends and family

If you love to decorate for every holiday on the calendar, it can be tough on your budget. These days, inflatables, yard art, and even indoor décor can cost hundreds of dollars. That’s not exactly an easy expense to absorb on a limited budget.

For those big-ticket items like inflatables that aren’t exactly easy to do-it-yourself, set up a decoration swap among your family or friends. Each person offers up an item that they’re willing to trade. Then everyone swaps. That way, everyone’s yard can look like new without anyone spending money.

#3: Make parties potluck and BYOB

Paying for all the food and drinks at your Halloween bash can get pricey. Instead of footing the bill yourself, make the party potluck and BYOB. For food, you can supply the main dishes and ask guests to bring appetizers, sides or desserts. Then for drinks, consider supplying beer, wine, and mixers, but ask guests to bring their liquor.

Also, remember to count portions correctly. Don’t make enough to feed an army if you’re only having a small gathering. If you can half a recipe and still have enough servings for your guests, take the time to do it. This will help you save money and reduce food waste at the end of the party.

#4: Don’t buy costumes or special toys and treats for your pets

Pet stores have done a great job of convincing people that their pets need to be dressed up for every holiday. They also make a big business out of selling seasonal toys and treats. But really, your pets don’t know it’s Halloween. They can’t tell the difference between their favorite chew today and that new spider or ghost that you bought them.

Don’t waste money on seasonal toys and treats. And if you want to dress up your pet, go back to Tip 1 and get crafting.

#5: Buy candy in bulk

Halloween candy is one of those things that’s best purchased in bulk, and you don’t have to wait until the day before Halloween for candy to go on sale either. According to consumer-savings experts, candy is priced lowest about 2 weeks before Halloween.[1] So, keep an eye on the weekly coupons or circulars from your favorite wholesale store. When big bags of candy go on sale, get to the store and buy what you need.

Just be realistic about how many trick-or-treaters you actually get in your neighborhood. Don’t go overboard purchasing candy if you only get a few groups each year. Having leftover candy isn’t good for your budget or your diet!

#6: Check local calendars for free events

You don’t need to hit up expensive paid haunted houses and theme parks to have a good time for Halloween. Avoid attending concerts or festivals that charge an entry fee. There are plenty of free local events going on in every city for Halloween. Check local papers and sign up for your community newsletter to find free events you can attend with friends and family.

Before you go, withdraw a small amount of cash at an in-network ATM that you can use for food, drinks, and souvenirs. Once you spend that cash, stop spending. This will help you avoid spending more than you intended when you get hit up at craft booths and carnival vendors.