With more than 41 million potential trick-or-treaters knocking on 120 million doors, Halloween can become one of our most expensive holidays. But even if you don’t want to spend a lot, there is no need to turn off the lights and pretend you aren’t home or try to persuade your kids that sweets are bad news. Even cheapskates can find ways to celebrate the spookiest day of the year without spending a bundle. Here are seven tricky tips from the editors at Living On The Cheap for saving on All Hallows’ Eve.
Last-minute candy buying is OK. There’s no reason you can’t wait until October 29 or later to stock up. It’s not like the stores will run out — and, if they do have a shortage of candy bars, there’s no penalty for passing out lollipops instead. Choose store-brand candy or knock-offs. Just be sure to follow our tips on how to save.
Buying bulk = big savings. Look into buying candy in bulk quantities at warehouse stores such as at a Sam’s Club, Costco or BJ’s Warehouse. If you aren’t a member, maybe a friend or neighbor will stock up for you when they go. As a thank-you, you can host a casual, adults-only get-together to divvy up the candy and split the costs.
Use your coupons and save your receipts. Candy makers know that sweet tooth is calling so expect to find tons of manufacturers’ coupons in newspaper inserts and online. They can lower the price of candy at grocery stores, big box retailers and drug stores, all of whom are likely to run special promotions as well. Save receipts and open one bag of candy at a time to dump into your serving bowl. This way, you can return any unused bags to the store for a refund.
Find cheap costumes. You can put together a costume on the cheap by visiting a thrift shops. Goodwill, Salvation Army and other thrift shops are overflowing with bargain-priced (up to 80% off) Halloween costumes, as well as cute containers for kids to carry their candy. Want costumes free? Look for a costume swap. Last year’s costume from your neighbor can be your kid’s new costume for this year. Or try kids’ consignment stores for like-new items. Have some costumes of your own? Trade them in for credit or cash.
Get treated to dining specials. Check local casual-dining spots and national chains for Halloween deals. The first place to start is our roundup of daily dining deals.
Save on spooky decor. Like most holidays, Halloween is the time of year to check out your local dollar store. First, read our advice on how to navigate them, what to buy and what to skip. You’re likely to find decorations, party supplies, masks and other themed paraphernalia on the cheap. Or you can read our articles about how to create scarecrows or other ghoulish scenes from items you have around the house.
Trick-or-treat safe and cheap. Many recreation centers and shopping malls offer a controlled, safe environment for trick-or-treating. Kids walk from store to store or station to station; there are plenty of potties along the route and when they tucker out, just cart ‘em back to the car. Not only can you avoid passing out candy yourself, but if the weather is nasty, you won’t have to bundle up or waterproof your fairy princess or mini Iron Man.
Get scary savings on haunted houses. In some cities, haunted houses are a rite of passage, but the cost of being spooked can be quite frightening. Fear not. The prospect of finding an affordable haunt may not be as grave as you think. Many haunted houses offer discounts to people who visit Sunday through Thursday, since Friday and Saturday are their busiest nights. Take advantage of combo discounts on houses run by the same company. Check out the websites of haunted houses and look for discounts. Call your city visitors bureau and ask about deals. And make sure to check for Halloween deals on your local Living on the Cheap site.
Create your own event. If you build the haunted house, they will come. One of my favorite childhood memories is partitioning off our garage and creating a neighborhood haunted house. Each section featured a different ghoulish scene. I think we charged a quarter per person to go through, but these days you could probably get a bit more.
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