We’re just settling into October, so it may seem a bit early to start planning for Halloween, but it will be here before you know it. And the reason most people end up overspending (on anything) is because they didn’t give themselves enough time to plan appropriately. The holiday snuck up on them, so now they have to make fast decisions and may not have the money to cover expenses. This year, I’m going to help you plan ahead, so you can enjoy the day and not be spooked by the lack of funds in your bank account afterwards.
The girls are still young enough where they enjoy dressing up for Halloween, although they no longer want to hold my hand while they go trick-or-treating. A tiny part of me misses those days, but I love watching the girls grow older too. Or that is what I tell myself whenever I feel a bit stressed as we approach those teenage years! One thing I don’t stress over is how we are going to pay for Halloween. As I’ve shared before, I am a firm believer in budgets, and when used with the right mindset, budgets represent freedom and choice versus restriction.
3 Halloween Money Lessons for Adults and Kids
Halloween offers more than candy and costumes, but also an opportunity to make wise choices with your money, which are important lessons for both adults and children.
Fun and Budget Go Hand-in-Hand
First and foremost, you must decide whether you even plan to celebrate Halloween, especially those of you without kids or have empty nests. For some people, October 31st is no different than October 30th. You are under no obligation to celebrate the holiday, so if dressing up like a blood-sucking vampire and terrorizing kids as you hand out candy doesn’t appeal to you, then don’t do it.
Assuming you have a desire to celebrate the holiday, your first step is to figure out your budget. Most people start by deciding what they want to do or wear, but that is a mistake. Why? Because discovering you don’t have the money to fund your Halloween extravaganza or purchase an elaborate costume you love, is always harder to deal with emotionally. Now your heart is set on your original vision, which makes it difficult to compromise and you’ll be more inclined to increase your budget, even if you really can’t afford to do so.
Safety Tip: Remember, when you create your budget, it’s not just about how much discretionary money you have available. It’s also about where Halloween fits within all your other priorities, so you can make value-based decisions on how you want to celebrate. Some love the holiday (think the Dunphy’s on Modern Family) while others enjoy handing out candy, but they set a modest amount to spend on treats, even when they could afford to spend more. Their spending reflects where Halloween falls within their values versus how much money they have available.
Be Savvy Consumers
I enjoy Halloween, but it is a holiday that doesn’t have the same sentimental value in our home as Thanksgiving and Christmas do. These days it is more of a commercial holiday, which we need to remember. Retailers do a great job of encouraging us to spend a significant amount of money on a holiday that most people are unfamiliar with its origins. Again, there is nothing wrong with enjoying the holiday, because I certainly do as well. However, I am careful to not fall for any “tricks” and spend more than planned or needed.
Buy Used Costumes
Dressing up is fun, but it is for one night only, unless you have a child who plays in their costume year-round (or until it no longer fits). Keep that in mind as you hunt for the perfect costume for yourself and/or kids. It’s a one-night only gig and certainly not as meaningful as your wedding dress and won’t be worn as frequently as the back-to-school clothes you just bought your kids. Since many people do only wear their costume once, you can find lots of lightly used costumes at garage sales and on Craigslist or eBay.
Tip: Consider hosting a pumpkin carving party the weekend before Halloween and include a Halloween costume swap as part of the festivities. It’s an easy way to find a free costume for you and your kids.
Make Your Own Costumes
Depending on how crafty and creative you are, you can help your child make his or her costume. And if you are not the next Martha Stewart, then invite your kids to raid your old clothes (or their grandparents or an consignment store) and create some crazy costumes.
Buy for the Following Year after Halloween
While the choices may be limited, you may find a great costume and deal, combing through the clearance racks on November 1st. Be mindful if you’re buying for kids, since it is hard to be 100% accurate on how much they will or won’t grow over the next year. It’s better for the costume to be a bit roomy than too small. Also, avoid picking trendy costumes, such as Minions, who may no longer be the flavor du jour next Halloween. Play it safe with more more traditional costumes.
Don’t Go Overboard on Candy
Every kid wants to visit as many homes as possible and fill their plastic pumpkin with all sorts of sugary treats. We felt the same way when we were kids, so I don’t begrudge trick or treaters for trying to entice me to give them fistfuls of candy. But remember — you’re not the only home they will visit on All Hallow’s Eve. Don’t let them grab candy from your bowl, but dole it out instead. If they request a specific candy, that is perfectly acceptable. Just decide in advance how many pieces you will give per kid and how much money you want to spend on candy.
Tip: To help stretch your candy budget, consider getting a mix of brand name treats with cheaper candy. If you plan to save money by shopping at the $1 store, be sure to compare quantity and not just price to ensure you are truly getting a better deal.
Bonus Tip: There is a reason why retailers start selling Halloween candy in September. In most cases, it will be long gone before your first trick or treater knocks on your door.
Give Kids a Voice in the Halloween Budget
As important as it is that we demonstrate good financial behavior to our kids, it is equally as important that we give them firsthand experience with making good decisions with their money. Tell your the kids how much you have allocated for their costume and let them take the lead into putting together their costume while staying within budget. This is a good way to teach them how to make compromises and to be a savvy consumer. It is so important to me that the girls not only learn how to make good decisions with their money, but also understand how they can create magic and still have fun while being mindful consumers who honor their budget.
Tip: When you give your kids the budget for their Halloween costume, also give them the option to keep any remaining funds that they can allocate towards their save, spend and share goals. Help your kids figure out where Halloween fits within their values and priorities. They may suddenly become very interested in saving money when they realize the excess money can go towards a goal or something they truly want. This is a lesson that will help your kids become financially confident adults.
A Halloween Candy Game
On Friday, I’ll share a fun game that you can play with your kids to help cement some of these important money lessons you have been demonstrating to them this Halloween.
How do you keep Halloween fun and affordable in your home? Have your kids picked out their Halloween costume yet? And most importantly — do you dress-up? If so, who will be you this year?