Frightened by Halloween Expenses? These Money-Saving Tips Are a Treat

A mother puts Halloween makeup on her son.
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The creepy, animatronic witch drew you in with her cackling laugh.

That would be perfect for the front porch, you decide.

You meander through the Halloween displays at your favorite big-box store and spot the perfect sinister costume to wear to your co-worker’s annual holiday bash.

Everyone will get a kick out of this.

You add a couple bags of candy to your cart, because you can’t disappoint the trick-or-treaters. And right before you get to the register, you see an arrangement of pumpkins.

What’s Halloween without a spooky jack-o’-lantern?

But when the cashier rings everything up, it’s your turn to get scared… by the total.

It’s easy to get swept up in overspending to celebrate Halloween. But with some creative thinking, you can avoid the festive money traps. 

5 Ways to Celebrate Halloween on a Budget

Keep spending under controlthis year with these money-saving suggestions.

1. Skip the Store-Bought Costume

Save a trip to the store and search the corners of your closet for something you can turn into a last-minute Halloween costume

Throw on a brightly colored shirt and add shorts, sandals, shades and a sunscreened nose for a tourist look. Or go as a new-age witch with some drapey, black layers along with dark jewelry and goth-style makeup.

Speaking of makeup, check beauty stores and drug stores instead of party stores for better quality, selection and prices.

2. Shop at Dollar Stores for Decor

Sure, those motion-sensored decorations that make all the kids jump are neat. But we’ll pass on those prices. 

Discount stores like Dollar Tree, Family Dollar and Five Below sell seasonal decor for just a few bucks. Kristy Gaunt, a former Penny Hoarder graphics designer, adorned her whole house (inside and out) with Halloween flair for under $50.

Her No.1 money-saving strategy was shopping at dollar stores first.

“Really think about the decorations that you’re buying and if you can get it somewhere else cheaper,” Gaunt said.

3. Nix the Candy

You don’t have to be a Scrooge (wrong holiday, we know) and ignore the knocks from trick-or-treaters come Oct. 31. But you don’t have to waste money buying what you hope is enough bags of fun-sized chocolate either.

Swap the sweets out for Halloween candy alternatives like stickers, spider rings or glow-in-the-dark bracelets. The cost of those trinkets may be comparable to candy, but the advantage is you can save leftovers for next year.

We’re not doubting you couldn’t eat your way through half a bag of Reese’s peanut butter cups, but who wants all those extra calories — or the guilt trip from the dentist.

4. Make the Most Out of Your Pumpkin

People carve pumpkins while dressed in Halloween costumes.
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There’s so much more you can do with that orange gourd than propping it in a window for decor. 

You can add pumpkin puree to a pasta dish, roast pumpkin seeds, make a planter or whip up a pumpkin face mask. Check out this story for more ideas on what to do with pumpkins after Halloween.

5. Bring the Kids to a Free Event

Haunted hayrides, ghost tours and trips to the amusement park include admission fees. Stick to Halloween on a budget by taking the kids to free events instead.

Michaels will have free pumpkin cookie decorating on Oct. 12 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Bass Pro Shops will throw a “Great Pumpkin”-themed celebration on Oct. 19, 20 and 25-31. The Disney Store will host kids’ costume parties the last three weekends in October. Target will have in-store trick-or-treating and a Paw Patrol themed party on Oct. 26 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

For parents of fur babies, PetSmart will host a pet costume contest and trick-or-treating for pups on Oct. 26 from noon to 2 p.m.

Nicole Dow is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder.