The scariest part of Halloween aren’t the ghosts and goblins that emerge; it’s what all the extra spending can do to your budget.
“Halloween is a holiday that typically requires a lot of extra spending, but there isn’t as much emphasis on planning ahead and setting a special holiday budget as there is for other “expensive” holidays- like Christmas,” says Jeff Schwartz, executive director, Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada.
“However, when you consider all the items that you often purchase- costumes, candy, décor and more- the expense can be substantial. And if you don’t have funds earmarked, you might be tempted to turn to credit,” says Schwartz.
Here are some tips on how you can cut expenses this Halloween to avoid giving your finances a fright.
Set a budget
How much can you reasonably afford to spend on Halloween celebrations without turning to credit? Stick within this guideline, as this kind of spending definitely falls under the “want” as opposed to “need” category.
That said, you can cut a lot of your costs by being creative and doing some DIY.
Cut costume costs
Do not (repeat do not) wait until the last minute to get costumes for your children or for yourself. Under the pressures of time and low inventory, you’ll be forced to pay top dollar for a costume that probably isn’t all that great anyways (why do you think it’s still on the shelf?).
If you are buying a costume, avoid ones with masks. They are more expensive and are often dangerous for your smaller trick or treaters as they walk through your neighbourhood in the dark.
The coolest costumes are usually the most budget friendly, because they are DIY. Inspiration (and usually award-winning) costumes are just a google search away and the best part: many times you can use or repurpose items that you already have.
Barring that, a trip to your local thrift shop will often yield bargains and excellent garments to assemble into a costume.
Decor on a dime
While decking your home out in full Halloween horror chic is fun, it is also costly. A trip to your local dollar store will let you fill your basket for under $10.
For your jack-o-lantern, buy your pumpkin from your local warehouse or grocery store, rather than going to the local pumpkin patch, where you are likely to pay a premium.
Switch your outdoor light bulbs for coloured ones. Let your kids get involved with the décor too. Construction paper and imagination go a long way to create some really unique and budget friendly decorations.
If you really want to save money, plan to skimp on the décor this year and snap up what you can on November 1st when décor will be deeply discounted.
Budget trick or treating tips
Who says that you have to hand out candy anyways? What about handing out stickers or another small non-food “treat”?
If you are going to buy candy, use a lot of the same approach that you would when you are grocery shopping. Scan flyers, use coupons and price matching and buy in bulk to reduce costs. Before you head out to buy your candy, try to ballpark how much you think you’ll actually need so you don’t overbuy and overspend. If you aren’t sure, ask neighbours for their input and then keep a tally as kids come to the door so that you’ll know for next year.
Need help with budgeting to avoid using credit? We can help. Call one of our trained credit counsellors at or check out our online debt analysis.