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How to budget for Halloween

Don’t let the cost of Halloween scare you

Siblings trick-or-treating with orange pumpkin buckets.

How much money are you planning to spend on Halloween this year? If you’re like most families, you’re probably still recovering from the cost of back-to-school — and you might already be thinking about the cost of holiday travel. Store-bought costumes, full-sized candy bars and larger-than-life outdoor skeletons might push your budget to the breaking point, but it’s not like you can just skip Halloween, right?

If you’re scared about how much Halloween might cost you, don’t worry. We asked two parenting experts how they handle the expenses associated with the holiday, and got a series of tips that can help nearly any family save money.

Here are our experts:

“Halloween can be an expensive time when you have young kids,” says Porter, “and unfortunately it falls right before an even more expensive time — the holiday season. So in our house we really try not to blow the budget out too badly. But we love Halloween and like to make it as fun as possible, so it can be a really tricky balance!”

Here’s what these parents suggest:

In this article:

Focus on experiences

Both Porter and Klevecka agree that Halloween should be about experiences — whether you’re helping a kindergartener create their own costume or working with preteens to design an outdoor display, or just doing your best for the neighborhood trick-or-treaters.

“In our household, we make a point of balancing cost and experience,” Klevecka explains. “Sure, the glittery, store-bought costumes are eye-catching, but so are the ones you create at home with a little creativity and family teamwork. It’s not just about how much we spend; it’s also about making lasting memories and doing it sustainably.”

Klevecka and her children start the costume creation process by going through the family closets and looking for items that could be transformed or reimagined. If they can’t find what they need at home, they head out to the thrift store. “Not only is it a fun family project, but it also saves money and is eco-friendly.”

Porter treats Halloween decorations the same way. “You can do a lot with a bag of spiderweb material and a set of string lights,” he says. “And if you want to go beyond that, I’d highly recommend seeing what you can fix up or repurpose.”

Reuse decorations

If you’re thinking about creating an eye-catching outdoor display, try to invest in materials that can be reused for years to come.

“I am extremely stubborn about reusing old decorations,” Porter told us. “You’d be shocked how expensive a few fake headstones and flashing lights can be! I have a graveyard set I’ve been reviving for years now, including some old styrofoam gravestones that I’ve been painting and patching up with duct tape and plywood.”

Klevecka agrees. “Reuse and repurpose is our motto. Last year’s decorations are this year’s treasures.”

If you’re hoping to reuse your decorations, consider purchasing items that can be used in many different ways. An outdoor skeleton, for example, can be either silly or scary depending on how you display it — so keep that in mind as you shop, and try to think not only about what your kids want to do this year, but also what your family might be interested in a few years from now.

Buy in bulk

When it comes to candy, most parents are already familiar with the benefits of bulk shopping.

“Buying bulk from Costco or Sam’s Club helps in cutting costs without skimping on the treats,” says Klevecka. “We go for a mix of popular and unconventional treats, adding a bit of a surprise element to our offerings.”

That said, sometimes all of that bulk buying leaves you with a bunch of candy left over — not to mention the additional candy your kids bring home! Before you toss your leftover candy into the garbage or leave it out for the Switch Witch, ask yourself how you can turn Halloween candy into a year-round treat.

“Our plan this year is to set the extra candy aside,” Porter says. “Not in a random pantry bin, but into little packs that we’ll use later. Our youngest daughter is getting old enough to go see movies in the theater now, so little baggies of saved Halloween candy are the perfect snack to sneak in with us to save money on popcorn/movie candy or to break out for a home movie night.”

If you really want to save money, you can freeze your extra Halloween candy and hand it out next year. You’ll definitely want to check the expiration dates before you toss the candy in the freezer, of course — and you may want to taste a piece or two after it’s thawed to ensure that it’s still good enough to eat.

Shop the sales

Many major retailers offer coupons on Halloween candy, and you can also use price-tracking apps to save money on costumes and decorations — but one of the best ways to save money on Halloween is by shopping for next year in early November.

“We stock up on craft supplies and decorations after Halloween when everything is on super sale, saving us a good amount down the line,” Klevecka told us.

If you start thinking about next Halloween as soon as this Halloween is over, you may also take better care of the decorations, costumes and candy you’ve already purchased — and you might even be able to snag a few new items at more affordable prices.

“We store decorations carefully in large plastic bins in our garage, so they are good as new each season,” says Klevecka. “After Halloween when everything is on sale, we’ll add a couple of new pieces to our collection.”

Want one more piece of Halloween budgeting advice? Don’t forget the batteries.

“Remember to take the batteries out of your decorations before storing them,” says Porter. “They’ll last longer in a drawer than inside the device in your garage or attic.”

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About Nicole Dieker

Nicole Dieker has been a full-time freelance writer since 2012, with a focus on personal finance and habit formation. In addition to Haven Life, her work regularly appears at Lifehacker, Bankrate,, and Vox. Dieker spent five years as a writer and editor for The Billfold, a personal finance blog where people had honest conversations about money, and is the author of Frugal and the Beast: And Other Financial Fairy Tales.

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Haven Life is a customer-centric life insurance agency that’s backed and wholly owned by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe navigating decisions about life insurance, your personal finances and overall wellness can be refreshingly simple.

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Haven Life is a customer centric life insurance agency that’s backed and wholly owned by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe navigating decisions about life insurance, your personal finances and overall wellness can be refreshingly simple.

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