Empower Blog

Budget-Friendly Halloween
September 22, 2023

Have a Budget-Friendly Halloween

Money Management

This article was recently published in CommunityAmerica's "Let's Talk Money" section of the Kansas City Star.


The leaves are changing and there’s a chill in the air – that can only mean it’s spooky season. No matter how you participate in Halloween festivities, shopping for Halloween can be expensive.


According to the National Retail Foundation, the average household spends just over $100 on Halloween candy, decorations and costumes. Add the additional expense of the rising cost of pumpkins, the cost of Halloween is trending upwards and unlikely to come down.


Whether you plan to host a Halloween party, take the kids out trick-or-treating or plan on curling up on the couch to watch scary movies – here are a few ideas for Halloween on a budget.

Buy Candy in Bulk

Candy prices are on the rise. But also be wary of “shrinkflation” – when manufacturers keep prices the same but give you less product. Halloween candy is one of those items that is best purchased in bulk. According to economists, the best day to buy candy is four days before Halloween so check your favorite wholesale store and be on the lookout for discounts on the bulk candy. Don’t forget to check the non-seasonal bulk candy too, where you’ll often find a better deal.


You can always forgo the candy route all together and choose to hand out small Halloween-themed toys. Find bulk trinkets on Amazon, The Dollar Store and Oriental Trading for as little as three cents per toy.

Save on Halloween Decorations

It’s tempting to shop in the seasonal pop-up Halloween stores for the best décor on the block. But the prices in these specialty stores can be high, even if you have a coupon or discount code.


Your cheapest Halloween finds are just a phone call away. Set up a decoration swap with your neighbors, family and friends. Each person offers up an item that they’re willing to trade for a swap. This works well for the pricier items like outdoor inflatables. You can also check out the “Buy Nothing” Facebook groups in your neighborhood.


If you’re set on buying your own décor, the best budget-friendly places are thrift stores. Thrift stores are filled with timeworn vintage finds. You’ll find items such as rusty garden tools or appliances as well as everyday items you can transform into creepy Halloween décor with a little dirt and food dye. Other places you’ll find some cheap Halloween finds are The Dollar Tree and Target’s Dollar Spot.

Skip the Pumpkin Patch Pumpkins

The cost of pumpkins has been trending up the past few years. While they’re not the most expensive items you’ll buy during Halloween, every penny counts when you’re on a budget. Pumpkin patches are a great place to let the kids run through corn mazes, take family photos on the hay bales and sip hot apple cider. But those extras are usually figured into the price of the pumpkins. It can be up to twice the cost per pound versus what you find a grocery store.


Your cheapest option for pumpkins is your local grocery store where you’ll find commercially grown pumpkins. Also consider buying a fake pumpkin. Some of the pre-carved ones can be slightly higher in cost compared to a real one but you have the luxury of using it year after year.

Choose DIY Costumes

Costumes on a budget are easy with a few items around your home or at a discount store that would make your child – or yourself -- the most creative creature on the block.


Adding straps to a piece of cardboard with a stapler or some hot glue will give you the freedom to be pretty much anything you can think of. You can cut out shapes to create your own sandwich-board-style costume. Think vending machines, life-size emojis, candy bars, building blocks or french fries. All it takes is a little creativity and imagination to turn that boring piece of cardboard into this year’s best Halloween costume.


Balloons are another great, and cheap, household item that can be used in costumes. You can use tape to adhere balloons to a green or purple shirt to transform into a bunch of grapes, throw on a blue shirt to become a bubble bath or fill up a clear bag around your torso with multicolored balloons for a gumball machine look. All that is left with these costumes is to add a pair of warm solid color pants and you’re set.

Laundry Basket

You can find laundry baskets for cheap at any local store or use an old one you do not need anymore. Cut two leg holes in it, add a couple straps to hang over your shoulders, and you an endless number of costume options. Kids, and adults, have used this trick to become trains, boats, and cars. You could even use white tissue paper and cut foam pool noodle into circles to add on top to become a bowl of cereal.


From little kids to adults, Halloween is a favorite holiday for many. Thankfully, you don’t have to worry about blowing your budget on Halloween.


Need more budget tips? CommunityAmerica’s Financial Well-Being Coaches offer free expert guidance on budgeting, improving your credit score and managing debt. Start your customized financial plan with a Well-Being Coach to help you achieve financial peace of mind.

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About the Author
Jeremy Davis

Financial Well-Being Coach

Jeremy Davis joined CommunityAmerica in 2022 and currently serves as a Financial Well-Being Coach at the Hickman Mills Community Access Center.