Halloween Fun On The Cheap

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Are you ready for Halloween? Americans are expected to spend $10 billion on costumes, candy, and decorations this Halloween according to the National Retail Federation. Wow, that sounds like a lot of money, but it’s tiny compared to the $997 billion we’ll spend this holiday season. Yowza! That’s too much money for me to wrap my mind around. These expectations are about 50% higher than in 2014, when I first wrote this article. Inflation and the pandemic really accelerated consumer spending.

*Originally written in 2014. I’ll add the 2021 update at the end.

Halloween was never a big part of my childhood. My family immigrated to the US when I was 12. That’s a bit too old to go trick or treating. I went to a few Halloween parties in my 20’s, but it was never a big holiday for me. Now, our kid is just about the right age (3) to go trick or treating. Last year we went to the mall and it took him a while to get into the spirit. He wouldn’t say trick or treat, but he collected a ton of Halloween candy. He was still a bit too young last year. One kid wore a pretty realistic werewolf costume and he got scared.

This year he is a bit more mature so I think he’ll enjoy Halloween more. He wants to be Darth Vader. However, I don’t think he’ll wear the costume… He doesn’t like hats, masks, or anything cumbersome. He doesn’t even want to wear a cape.  He is not into dressing up at all. Basically, he just wants to wear shorts and t-shirts. We’re having a heck of a time trying to convince him to wear long pants and long sleeve shirts now that it’s getting colder. Anyway, I went to Goodwill to check what they have in stock. I don’t really want to buy a cheap costume that will be thrown away quickly. Here are the things we found at Goodwill.

Halloween on the cheap
The Force is strong with this one!
  • A Darth Vader Mask! Wow, what an awesome find. Actually, there are quite a few Darth Vader masks in all sizes at the Goodwill store. I guess he is popular.
  • A makeshift light saber. It’s just a noise maker sticks, but it will do this time.
  • A Pirate Hat. It’s the backup in case we can’t get Darth Vader costume together.
  • A toy cutlass.

Everything was 99 cents each. Score! We have a black pair of pants and a Batman t-shirt with a cape so we can adapt them to be Dart Vader. I guess we’ll have to tape the Dart Vader panel over the Batman symbol somehow. The backup pirate costume should be pretty easy too. We have shorts, a striped shirt, and a makeshift eye patch.

Our Halloween bill

$4 costumes

$3 decoration – I got a pumpkin from Trader Joe’s. We also have ceramic Jack-o-lantern and ghost candle holders so those are reusable every year.

$0 candy – We don’t get trick or treaters in our building so no handing out candies. If we get a stray one, then we can give out some of the candy we got from the mall last year. We ate all the chocolate pretty quickly and left the hard candies in a jar. Heh heh heh…

So we are getting off pretty cheap this year. Maybe next year RB40 Jr. will get into the Halloween spirit more. We read a ton of books about Halloween to get ready, but he still doesn’t really care about dressing up. Oh well.

2021 Update

Wow, time flies. RB40Jr is now 10 years old. He doesn’t want to go trick or treating this year. He’ll go hang out with his friends instead. This year we spent a bit more on Halloween than in 2014.

  • $8 for three carving pumpkins.
  • $8 for Halloween candy. We moved in 2019 and our new neighborhood has a few kids.

What about you? How much are you spending on Halloween this year? I hope you’re helping to prop up the economy at least a little bit. 😉

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Joe started Retire by 40 in 2010 to figure out how to retire early. After 16 years of investing and saving, he achieved financial independence and retired at 38.

Passive income is the key to early retirement. This year, Joe is investing in commercial real estate with CrowdStreet. They have many projects across the USA so check them out!

Joe also highly recommends Personal Capital for DIY investors. They have many useful tools that will help you reach financial independence.

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