All October posts are part of the Countdown to Halloween!
I just need to say this: WOW. Freakin’ WOW. You guys absolutely blew me AWAY with your response to my anniversary giveaway. I am so honored so many of you joined in, showed my sponsors some love and shared with me what you wanted to see on spookylittlehalloween.com.
So first and foremost today…
Thank you for reading, for sharing your thoughts and for being a part of the Spooky Little Halloween community. I’ve been blogging for more than 15 years, but I’m only a few weeks in to year two of this site. I can’t believe the response I’ve gotten this Halloween season. I am seriously flattered and honored you guys enjoy what I do. Thank you.
Which leads us to today’s post…
To enter the giveaway, I asked you to share one thing you’d like to see on Spooky Little Halloween in the future. There were so many suggestions I know there is no way I’ll get through them all by Halloween 2016, but keep following along all year and I promise to try and post about everything you guys mentioned.
There were definitely some trends in the type of Halloween blog posts you requested.
The number one thing you are looking for?
How to make Halloween and DIYs budget-friendly.
And I hear ya! It’s crazy how much Halloween there is to consume these days – it is everywhere. And with this year’s industry set to top out at a record $8.4 BILLION spent in the U.S., it’s really no shock that Halloween is everywhere.
And it is tempting. I go in to store after store and want to buy up every last skull, trick or treat sign or pumpkin throw pillow I see right now.
But I also have a very small personal budget for Halloween, so I have to be smart about my Halloween spending.
Here’s how I do it:
Because we’re talking money here, I want to make this perfectly clear before we start: I don’t make a dime off Spooky Little Halloween right now. In fact, I pay to blog – I pay for my domain, to host the site and even to automate emails in the free e-course I’m offering right now.
So please don’t read this while buying into the blogger myth that we’re all sitting pretty and making money. I’m not. I’m just like you guys when it comes to wanting budget-friendly Halloween ideas.
1. Set a budget
So here’s the deal if you don’t know already: yes, I am a single gal living it up in the city with no family to look after. But I’m also a single gal working at a nonprofit – in other words, I’m not making the big bucks over here. I do work that I believe in over doing work for a big paycheck, so there’s not much leftover for extras after paying rent and bills.
Because I don’t have much extra income, I have to be smart about how I choose to spend it.
So I set a budget. I figure out how much money I have that I can realistically spend on extras, and every September and October I know most of that money will go towards Halloween goodies for myself AND for my Halloween party.
It’s totally Money 101, but knowing how much I have to spend makes adhering to the rest of these tips super easy.
2. No impulse spending
This is a tough one, but it’s one of the most important rules I follow. I do not impulse buy anything when it comes to Halloween. (Except for maybe items that cost under $3 – but seriously, $3 is my limit for impulse purchases.) Every single item I ultimately purchase has been carefully considered before I’m willing to swipe my debit card for it.
Look, I wish I had all the disposable income in the world to throw at Halloween. Don’t we all? But the simple fact is I don’t. So I wander stores and carefully weigh my options before I ever make a purchase.
This year when I finally found a fully-stocked Target, I circled the Halloween aisles a good four times putting things in my cart and then back on the shelf before making my final decisions. (This was after looking at their entire collection online repeatedly for at least a month before it hit stores…)
How do I decide to take something home? I think about whether the item will fit in with the Halloween decor I already own. I think about if I actually have a spot to display it. If I don’t, I think about whether I’m willing to give up something I already own for something new.
If the answer to any of those questions is no, I don’t buy it. Plain and simple.
3. Shop around
Y’all, if you don’t realize this already…you would be AMAZED at how many stores sell the exact same – or incredibly similar – Halloween items. This is another reason I never make an impulse purchase. I might find the same thing somewhere else at a better price.
It’s also a fun excuse to start Halloween shopping in late July and early August. By the time true Halloween season rolls around and the rest of the world catches up to us, you already have the best deals and finds scoped out and purchased.
4. Use coupons
I’m not trying to be rude when I say this, but if you are buying Halloween items at full price from stores that regularly offer discounts, coupons or have app discounts you are doing Halloween all wrong.
Right now, I LIVE for emails from Michaels, Jo-Ann’s and Hobby Lobby to hit my inbox every day. I am constantly scanning them for great Halloween deals and extra percentages off items already on sale. If I’m buying online, I check retailmenot.com for coupon codes before I make my final purchase. This is where my Taurus status shines: I hate paying full price for things.
So if you are serious about buying a bunch of items for a DIY project, scoring that one perfect goodie only one store has in stock or you just want to save money…do your research. Subscribe to emails, download apps, bookmark retailmenot.com and monitor the heck out of them. I promise it’ll pay off.
5. Buy strategically
There is zero shame in going to a craft store every day for a week just to use coupons. I do this regularly. And yeah, you could argue I’m wasting more in gas than I’m saving on the items, but I say beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
If I feel like I’m going to save money, I’m going to do it.
Also, when you follow seasonal sales at specific stores for a few years, you begin to learn when those sales happen. For example, Target typically marks their Halloween items and costumes 25% off very early on in the season. They have one week where costumes are half off, and at some point there’s usually coupons on the Cartwheel app for decor and candy.
Places like Michaels and Jo-Ann’s nearly always have Halloween on sale during October, usually at 30-40% off. I wait for the weeks where items are 50 or even 60% off before I buy, OR I wait for extra percentages off sale items – that’s how I got two candlestick holders, a pair of electric candles, a bag of bugs and some Halloween stickers for $15 this past weekend when it should have cost me $40+.
6. Earn free gift cards
I got the haunted radio at Target for free this year. I also purchased $50 worth of movies, books and games for my Halloween Roast prizes on Amazon with free gift cards.
To use Shopkick, download the app on a smartphone and create an account. Then you can see a list of participating stores. When you visit a participating store, you can earn kicks – or points – for scanning the bar codes on specific items throughout the store. Some stores even give you kicks for just walking in the door. I earned a $25 gift card to Target at the start of September, which is how I got the haunted radio at no cost to me.
My Survey and Global Test Market are both survey websites. In exchange for taking surveys, I earn points that I can redeem for gift cards to a variety of stores. Yes, I am essentially exchanging personal information on my consumer habits to earn these gift cards, so if that isn’t your thing I’d steer clear. But I don’t mind, and you can always close out surveys you aren’t comfortable finishing. I earned $50 in Amazon gift cards from Global Test Market which I used to purchase prizes for Halloweenie Roast.
Full disclosure: Links in this section are referral links. If you sign up for any of these sites or apps, I may earn a bonus for referring you.
7. Never buy more than you can store
I love Halloween as much as the next person, but I do NOT want to become a Halloween hoarder. For this reason I never buy more than I can store. (My mom is probably chuckling at this because right now my old bedroom at my parent’s house is my temporary storage facility – thanks built-in-the-1920s apartment with zero closets!)
But seriously – don’t buy more than you can reasonable store during the rest of the year. Don’t buy more than you can actually display either.
Over the years you’re naturally going to fall in and out of love with decor items as your tastes change and your style evolves. And that’s okay. But you need to get rid of the items you don’t want anymore. Donate them to resale shops like Goodwill!
One Halloween lover’s trash is another Halloween lover’s treasure.
8. Look for items at dollar stores
I’ll go to the grave swearing by this: dollar stores have THE best Halloween goodies. Seriously. The DIY ghost I posted on Instagram? 100% dollar store items. This ghost sign? Dollar store. These smiling skellies? Dollar store.
If you don’t pop in your local dollar store at least once during Halloween season, you are missing out on so many affordable goodies. Now don’t get me wrong – not everything is my taste and some things look cheap, so I am extra picky when shopping at one.
But some of my favorite or most unique Halloween items in recent years have come from dollar stores.
9. Save your pennies
If you know you’re a Halloween junkie and you’re going to want ALL the things come September 1, save up during the year!
One of my favorite ways to do this is pulling out cash I’ll need for every day expenses or for my groceries. Then all the spare change I have goes in a small container, and I save it until I have enough to cash it in. (The credit union I have a savings account with has a coin sorter that’s free for members as long as you deposit the money – check for this option before using a service like Coin Star, which takes a percentage of your change as a usage fee.)
I’ve done this for years to save for concert tickets when my favorite band tours, (I usually go to 2-3 shows in a row) and I can typically pay for one $40-$50 ticket with my savings. You’d be surprised how quickly your change adds up over time!
10. Splurge on ONE thing
Okay, we’ve got to have a LITTLE fun, right? This IS Halloween after all. Go all in, and splurge on ONE item. My Halloween tanks from Target were one of my 2016 splurges. (But I used gift cards and 20% on the Cartwheel app to pay for them!)
It’s okay to trick-or-treat yo’ self from time to time – just don’t do it every time you walk in a store, okay?
So there you have it – my 10 secrets to doing Halloween on a budget!
How do you keep Halloween budget-friendly?
I’d love to hear your tips and tricks in the comments!
And if keeping Halloween budget-friendly is your thing, don’t go anywhere – more budget-friendly DIYs will be posted before October 31!
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