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10 Clever Money-Saving Ideas for Halloween

You can still have spook-tacular fun on Halloween without breaking the bank. Read on for money-saving tips for Halloween.

Halloween Pumpkins© by Martin Deja/Getty Images

Saving on Halloween costumes

Halloween costumes, decor, and candy can add up pretty quickly, especially if you have a big family or live in an area that gets a lot of trick or treaters. Before spending a big chunk of your paycheck on this spooky holiday, read on to find out easy ways to save on everything you need for Halloween. Make sure to try out these cheap DIY Halloween decorations too.

Friends Trick or Treating on HalloweenSeventyFour/Getty Images

DIY

See what you have on hand. Last year’s Harry Potter cape can be re-purposed into a vampire cape with minimal effort. You have black clothes to wear underneath, so all you need are some fangs and face makeup. If you need inspiration, check out our best DIY Halloween costumes that are easy to put together last minute

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Get thrifty

Swing by the local second-hand shop or Salvation Army to check out their selection of cheap Halloween costumes. Given that most Halloween costumes are worn once, you can often find options that are in decent shape. The formal wear section may have gowns, suits, and tuxedos, which can be used for a whole host of cheap Halloween costumes. Note that if you purchase something used, run it through a hot dryer to ward off any unwanted passengers, i.e. bedbugs. If there is faux fur on the costume, freeze the garment instead. The fur could melt in the dryer. Amp up the spooky fun with these creepy, crawly Halloween crafts for kids

halloweenCreative Lab/Shutterstock

Set limits

If, after you’ve exhausted your DIY and previously-owned options, a few family members still need costumes, set some spending limits before heading to the store so everyone is aware of the parameters (and know to steer clear of the high-end section). And if they land on a costume that is well below their spending cap, they can “give” those extra funds to someone else whose costume may be more expensive, thereby teaching the lesson of generosity—a stretch for us all. Also, find out how you can decorate a pumpkin without carving.

US-HALLOWEEN-SHOPPINGFREDERIC J. BROWN/Getty Images

Wait…if you can stand it

The prices for costumes and candy will decrease as the holiday approaches, but as the prices fall, the selection will thin. If a certain someone has their heart set on a specific character, i.e. Elsa from Frozen, you might want to snag that costume on the early side. If you wait until a day or two before Halloween, the options could be limited to the less popular princesses. The same goes for candy. You may not be able to find that big bag of pumpkin-shaped Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups so close to Halloween, but the Smarties will be 50 to 75 percent off.  FYI, the very best time to buy Halloween costumes is the day or two after Halloween. If you’re a planner, buy next year’s costume at a rock bottom price and store it away. Here’s why stores put out Halloween decorations so early.

Mother working on laptop, daughter on tableMoMo Productions/Getty Images

Costume sales

Before you decide where to shop, look for where the sales are. Check sites such as Spirit Halloween, Party City, and Halloween Express to see which costumes they’ve marked down. Looking to lighten the mood of scary Halloween costumes? Try out one of these 25 punny Halloween costumes that are sure to make people laugh

Merchandise is Offered for Sale at WalgreensScott Olson/Getty Images

Save on sweets

If you own an Alexa-enabled device, say, “Alexa, what are your Halloween deals?” to get the scoop on savings. If you expect to give out–or eat–a lot of candy, bulk Halloween candy can be a big money saver. Use your Sams Club, BJ’s, or Costco memberships to save a bundle on Halloween candy. Check out some surprising facts about Halloween candy you never knew.

halloweenRena Schild/Shutterstock

Décor sales

If you plan to deck out your home in gory glory, décor is discounted up to 60 percent off at Oriental Trading. If you need more inspiration, check out these Halloween decorations you can only buy at Target.

Mixed raced family decoration pumpkindslisegagne/Getty Images

Decorate with fake pumpkins or grow your own

Buying a few real pumpkins for the family to decorate isn’t going to break the bank, but buying fake ones to decorate with each year can save some money. Or, if you have the climate for it, you can grow your own pumpkin patch in the backyard and carve those pumpkins. If you need real pumpkins for it to feel like Halloween, head to a local farm or pick-your-own patch instead of buying them from the grocery store, most of the time they will be cheaper. If you do carve, check out these stencils to take you jack-o’-lantern to the next level.

Dollar TreeRiverNorthPhotography/Getty Images

Check out the dollar store

Halloween stores can be expensive, and most decorations only last one season anyway. Head over to the dollar store to find things to decorate your porch or yard with and even accessories for your Halloween costume. Check out these Amazon finds under $30 that will take your haunted house to the next level.

Costumes on a RackMint Images/Getty Images

Sell old costumes

A few weeks or months before Halloween, go through what costumes you have saved from previous years. If you know that you’re never going to wear them again or if your kids grew out of them post them for sale online. Depending on their condition, you may only be able to get a few bucks for them, but that money can go towards your new costumes. Next, check out these Halloween costumes you can get for $25 or less.

For more fun facts, costume ideas, traditions, candy inspiration, spooky entertainment, and updates on how October 31 will look different this year, check out our Halloween Guide.

Trae Bodge
Trae Bodge is an accomplished lifestyle journalist and TV commentator who specializes in smart shopping and saving money. She writes for RD.com and CNNUnderscored.com, and her expert commentary can be found on RealSimple.com, Today.com, Kiplinger.com, and Marketwatch.com, and in magazines like Newsweek, Better Homes & Gardens, and Woman’s Day. She has appeared on-air hundreds of times, including on NBC Nightly News, Inside Edition, and network affiliates around the country. You can find her money-saving tips at truetrae.com and at @truetrae on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.