Valdosta Daily Times

September 30, 2012

Do the Monster Mash without draining your cash!

Brittany D. McClure
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — Young college students walking the streets in their underwear, children being encouraged to take candy from strangers and hobby stores filled with Christmas decorations in deep denial can only mean one thing ... Halloween!

My dear budgeteers, I couldn’t be more excited about this Sunday’s column. Halloween is just around the corner and aside from my birthday, it’s my most favorite holiday!

It’s the one day of the year where I can let my freak flag fly and consume about 5,000 calories worth of mini candy bars and completely rationalize it on the basis of it being the most magical time of the year.

Because I love Halloween so much, it is quite easy for me to drop hundreds of dollars on costumes for my dogs, light up skeletons for the porch and about a hundred bags of candy despite living in an apartment complex that has virtually no children.

However, this year, I have decided to celebrate Halloween, budgeteer style, which means DIY decorations, creative thrift store costumes and being the crazy lady that hands out home-made popcorn balls and pennies (not mixed together, of course, that would be hazardous).

So if you’re ready to join me in my spooky, saving festivus, then hop on the budgeteer DeLorean which only has one stop, Halloween Funky Town! So courtesy of yours truly, here are some ways to keep your Halloween on budget.

• Costumes

If you’re reading this, you’re probably not in college anymore, which means it is no longer appropriate to dress like a street walker on Halloween. Sure, you can reminisce over old pictures when you were a size two and dressed like a sexy kitten while you cry and stuff your face with Snicker’s bars (not that I do that or anything), but the fact is, you’re better than that.

Halloween costumes are expensive, and it is just silly to spend $80 on a costume that you will only wear once. The same goes for kids as well. Before you head to the costume store, check thrift stores and Goodwill. A lot of people donate Halloween costumes that their kids have outgrown.

It is my opinion that the best costumes for adults and for kids are home made. Get creative! Why dress like Batman when you can kick it old school and dress like Britney Spears and K-Fed on their white-trash, wedding night (yes, me and my husband actually did this our freshmen year in college)?

• Candy

So many people get overwhelmed when buying candy to appease trick-or-treaters and keep them from rioting. I know I always buy way too much and have to end up throwing a lot of it away.

Did you know that last year Americans spent $2.25 billion on candy alone, according to Daily Finance, a blog on Gheesh! No wonder no one had money to buy houses! So what can you do to avoid spending tons of money on a Halloween necessity?

Search the circulars! The week before Halloween is the biggest week for candy sales. So, hold out and don’t do your shopping early. Make the stores sweat and swoop in when the prices lower.

Also, be sure to evaluate your candy purchases based on the cost per piece. You do that by dividing the price of the bag by the number of pieces in the bag. That way you can see which candies give you the best value. Often times you will find that several smaller bags are a better value than the “value jumbo bags.”

• Decorations

I know we have been over this several times, but get on Pinterest, people! They have beyond tons of DIY decorations that are easy and on the cheap!

For example, a Halloween wreath is one of the easiest ways to add scary pizzazz to your house. Instead of buying an already-made wreath, make your own. I know your instinct when doing this is to go buy the styrofoam wreath bases, but you can go to the dollar store, get a pool noodle for $1, bend it into a circle and duct tape it. Wrap it with some Halloween ribbon, glue on some plastic spiders and bam! You got a wreath! Throw some cheap, fake spider webs that you can recycle from year to year and you got all the decor that you need.

Well, my budgeteers, now that I have covered the three major staples of Halloween — costumes, candy and decorations — the rest is up to you. Be sure to follow me on Facebook at www.facebook/BrittanysBudgetDiary and on Twitter @VDT_Brittany to get alerts about sales on Halloween candy, costume ideas and so much more. I may even throw up the picture of me and Cam dressed as Britney Spears and K-Fed. Spooky savings and may the Great Pumpkin be with you!