Single and Settling In

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Financial Tricks and Treats

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Halloween is my favorite holiday; it's a holiday that is just plain fun and silly and creative. I don't have to reflect on what I'm thankful for; I don't have to ponder the real meaning of the celebration;  I don't have to trot out my loving and romantic sentiments for the world to see. Nope, I just get to put on stupid clothes and go to parties and gorge myself with Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. What's not to love?

But... when you love a thing, you tend to get a little crazy with it. I can't tell you how many boxes of Halloween decorations I have in my basement. It seems like every year the decorations get cuter and cuter (I like the Cute Halloween and not so much the Gory Halloween), so of course I must have them.  I recognize that Halloween is a weak time for me in terms of impulse shopping (awareness is step one!), but as my disposable income has shrunk, I've had to adjust my behaviors. Here are some thoughts and strategies I try to follow so that I can enjoy the holiday without watching my wallet give up the ghost...

Take inventory early. Before I am tempted by the newest decorations (Target mesmerizes me every year!), I pull out those orange-lidded Rubbermaid tubs and take stock of the treats and trappings I already have. It's amazing the volume of things that you totally forgot you bought. Before you shop elsewhere, shop your own garage/basement/attic!

Spread out the spending. Basically the whole month of October is, at least for me, one big long holiday. I try to pick up things incrementally to avoid any shocks to my pocketbook. Pumpkins and outdoor décor are usually my first priority. Then I can pick up the bagged candy, odds and ends I might need for my costume, a couple bottles of wine (red, of course, with these fun labels affixed) to take as hostess gifts and such, as I notice bargains over the remaining weeks.  

Never, ever go with a store-bought costume! When I was a kid I wanted nothing more than one of those plastic playsuits with the accompanying mask that you would see in your average K-Mart or Toys "R" Us. Why? I have no idea. Forget all of that and use your noggin! Again, shop your closet. With a little bit of ingenuity, the opportunity for "found" costumes is just about endless. Last year I went as the year 1992 (I wore a plaid skirt, my old Doc Marten boots, fishnets, and a Cure t-shirt) - all I had to buy was some blue hairspray to complete my alternative-punk look. This year my boyfriend is going as legendary Penn State football coach Joe Paterno. Since he already has gone a little gray up top, all he needs is some black frame glasses and a cardigan (it helps that he can do a pretty good imitation)!

Be a guest, not a host. This sounds a little selfish, I know. In my life, luckily, we have friends whose "thing" is to hold an annual Halloween party. The main point is share Halloween with friends or family. Making a contribution to a party is much friendlier to the budget than taking on the responsibility of hosting one.

Hold off til post-Halloween clearance sales. Okay, so sometimes I cave. If there's an item or two I really want, I keep a mental tab on it and pick it up at the inevitable clearance sale, come November 1. At that point it's likely be at least 50% off, so it's really like shopping for next year. And when I forget that I bought it only to uncover it next year, I will be happy and surprised!

These are all common sense pointers, but I find that I need to coach myself on these things from time to time. How do you keep the ghouls of impulse buying at bay? And please do share any creative "found costume" ideas here-- I haven't decided which way I'm going this year and am always looking for sources of inspiration!

Related posts:

Frugal and Frightful Halloween Activities

Avoid the Scary Costs of Halloween Costumes

Fun and Frugal Activites for College Students


Stacey Pavlick

Stacey is a participant in the CareOne Debt Management Plan, soon to complete her second year on the plan. She is also a contributing writer for the My Journey Out of Debt blog and Single & Settling In blog. She is currently an operations manager for a title insurance company and moonlights as a music reviewer for She combines her passion for writing with her passion for getting out of debt to share her struggles and successes along the way. Compensated CareOne Blogger

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  • There is no other time of year where sticking to your budget is more important than now, but so many of us chicken out and abandon on budgets and under the pretense of "holiday spirit-itus".

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