By Cherie Lowe
Hang onto your costume hats, friends. We’re about to set a record in the U.S.
Projections show that collectively, Americans will spend a whopping $1.9 billion on Halloween this year. According to the National Retail Federation, that amount will be spread out over 179 million consumers with an average of $86.10 per person.
Obviously some shoppers will spend more and others will spend less, but the temptation to go overboard at Halloween hit a new record high.
In early September, big box retailers replaced backpacks and ink pens, notebooks and crayons with masks, candy buckets, costumes and creepy decor. With each week, it seemed like more and more merchandise stocked the shelves. Now we find ourselves in full swing of the final marketing attempts.
As we dodge to avoid the candy we always overeat and weave our kids away from the adorable dress-up options, we walk a fine line between becoming holiday misers and overindulging.
Celebrating any holiday requires resolve and restraint for even the most disciplined of shoppers. Here’s how you can navigate the necessities and actually enjoy late October without a terrifying bottom line.
Shop for costumes — at home
Press pause on visiting the pop-up Halloween stores. Nix a drive through the aisles. Go old school this year and make your own costume instead.
For kids, it’s a good idea to look through costumes of the past and dress up attire they already own. Even sports uniforms or mom and dad’s clothes make fabulous alternatives to dropping $30 on an outfit worn only once.
We’ve added fairy wings to old Easter dresses, donned pajamas and created costumes from Christmas wrapping paper before. A quick internet search can yield a host of creative ideas that require very little cash. Get creative and make a one-of-a-kind get up.
Keep decor fall-themed
I LOVE decorating in the fall.
If you’re a regular reader, you know I’ve mentioned as much before. But the best thing about purchasing reusable fall decor is that if you’re smart about what you buy, you can place those items in your yard or home from Sept. 1 through Nov. 30.
It’s difficult to find any other holidays with that kind of decorating longevity. Choose plain pumpkins over their jack-o-lantern cousins. Skip the ghosts and ghouls and opt for leaves and scarecrows.
Simple solid autumnal colors like orange, red, brown and yellow look fantastic all the way through Thanksgiving. So put the fake cobwebs back on the shelf and select something with more shelf life.
Keep candy purchases under control
The last thing I want you to do in the evening of Oct. 31 is turn off all of your lights and hide out in your own house.
You have an opportunity to get to know some of your neighbors and people from your community. You can spread joy to children. Is there anything better than that? You may even get to nibble a classic childhood favorite sweet, too.
However, the great temptation exists to purchase more candy than necessary and then later need to purchase more (and larger) pants than necessary. So let’s think smart when it comes to the treats.
You may want to opt for a non-food option altogether this year. Choose a give-away like a roll of hundreds of stickers or small toys instead. You can find items like these on online retailers for a steep discount. If you don’t end up using all of the goods, store them for next Halloween.
You may also want to compare the prices of seasonal Halloween wrappered candy to the regular fare. Oftentimes, you’re paying more for a smaller size and/or the festive covering. Consult your grocery store’s ads and look for coupons before you buy any candy. The savings opportunities abound as each store fights for your business during the month of October.
The celebrations of October mark the beginning of the holiday season. While it’s more than OK to get into spirit of community and family fun, we all must hold tight to the knowledge that more budget challenges await our finances in November and December.
Begin your journey well, keeping your spending down so you can splurge on those items that matter more to you before the end of the year.
Greenwood resident Cherie Lowe and her husband paid off $127,000 in debt in four years and now live debt-free every day with their two kids. She is the author of “Slaying the Debt Dragon: How One Family Conquered Their Money Monster and Found an Inspired Happily Ever After.” Send questions, column ideas and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org