Halloween's frightful tab, how to reign in costs
Halloween spending: The National Retail Federation estimates that Americans will spend $7 billion on Halloween this year, 50 percent more than in 2005. How can families reign in costs?
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Even staying at home will set you back, given all the decorations and candy you need. Robert Sollars, a business consultant and Halloween enthusiast in Mesa, Arizona, estimated that he and his wife will spend at least $100 on candy – not that they have any misgivings about it.Skip to next paragraph
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"I'm going to dress up as a mean cat, and since I have a deep voice, I'll growl and hiss. My wife answers the door as a zombie queen or witch," he said. "The kids love coming to the house because we scare the hell out of them."
Spook and thrifty
Add up all the households like the Sollarses', and it's a $2.08 billion tab for sugary treats on Halloween.
Ouch. What can you do if you want to celebrate but don't want to suffer the financial equivalent of a sugar crash on Nov. 1? Here are some thoughts.
- Pick a number and stick with it. Determine in advance how much you can spend and don't exceed it, no matter how tempted you are to buy the creepy hanging LED clown for $40.
- Wait until the last minute, if you can. Andrea Woroch, a consumer expert, pointed out that since Halloween-themed stuff is all but useless on Nov. 1, many stores begin discounting it in advance of Oct. 31. "Candy brands put Halloween images on their packaging, so the day before, many drugstores and groceries mark them down up to 50 percent," she said.
Costumes are also marked down by about 30 percent in the days before Halloween, Woroch added, but that only works if you and your child are flexible. "If you wait till the day before, the lines are long and the merchandise is picked through."
- Hack the costume. Encourage your child to dress as something generic – a tourist, a businessman or a pirate, say – instead of the pricey brand-name comic character du jour. Most likely, you can pull a costume out of the closet.
- Recycle. Don't feel you can't wear last year's costume because posted pictures will reveal you reuse your old costumes. Odds are, no one is looking that closely, and if they are, do you really want to be friends with someone who would judge you for dressing up as a cat two years running?
- Stockpile. Nobody wants to eat year-old candy, but you could go out the day after Halloween and buy those spiderwebs and gravestone props for pennies on the dollar. I might even be able to find a costume Katie could afford then.