Monday, October 31, 2016

Halloween Savings

Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays, even though my parents did it on the cheap. When my brother and I were little, they'd splurge on a big pumpkin, which my father would carve into a scary Jack-o-Lantern. That was the extent of our Halloween decorations. Later, when we kids lost interest in pumpkin-carving, my mother bought a little plastic lighted Jack-o-Lantern from K-Mart to display in the front window. It could be brought out every year, and there would be no more wasting real pumpkins.

I always wanted to be a witch for Halloween, but my mother never saw the need to spend money on costumes. I could either be a gypsy, a princess, or a hobo, using old clothes and accessories we found around the house. When I finally grew up and left home, I went out and bought myself a witch costume. But my parents' frugality rubbed off on me; I've used the same witch costume year after year. In fact, I still wear that hat when handing out candy to trick-or-treaters.

There can be a happy medium between extreme cheapness and overspending on holidays like Halloween. Here are some tips to minimize costs and still enjoy yourself:

          Costumes: Make your own, or buy timeless characters that can be reused for more than one year to stretch out the expenditure. Avoid flammable fabrics and masks or hoods that impede vision. Make sure garments don't drag along the ground, and that the kids wear comfortable shoes and follow basic safety rules when out trick-or-treating. A trip the emergency room can blow your budget.

Decorations: Some people like to go all out and one-up each other for the neighborhood's "best decorated" title, which is great if it gives you pleasure. To reduce costs, invest in big-ticket items that can be reused year after year. Keep safety in mind when placing decorations in your home or yard, and use adequate lighting. Medical bills and lawsuits take the fun out of holiday festivities.

Pets: Keep your pets indoors on Halloween so they don't get spooked or tormented by pranksters. And ensure the candy stays out of their reach, especially chocolate, which can be toxic. Vet bills for catastrophes within your control add unnecessary expenses.

Candy: Don't buy more than you need. Know yourself and your relationship with candy. If your resistance is strong and you can manage temptation, stock up in advance when it is on sale, and freeze it if you have to. Most candy keeps for a while, so recycle candy collected during the year and add it to the Halloween stash: packaged after-dinner mints, candy thrown at parades, etc. If you know you'll eat any candy that's in the house, wait until the last minute to purchase it. Or give out quarters, for no extra calories and no waste whatsoever.

Have a safe and happy Halloween!

What tips do you have for Halloween savings? I would love to hear your comments.

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