Monday, October 17, 2011

How to Get the Most from Your Money This Halloween

According to a survey conducted for the National Retail Federation, the average person plans on spending $72.31 on Halloween related items this year. However, ⅓ of consumers also state that they are looking for ways to cut back on expenses as part of the overall trend towards frugality brought on by the current lackluster economy. For parents, this means looking for ways to celebrate the holiday with their children while getting the most value for their money.

Here are five suggestions to help you spend wisely this Halloween season.

1. Look for costumes that will provide play value all year long. Children love playing dress-up and parents love how imaginative play provides hours of fun and helps promote an active imagination and cognitive development. Halloween is a great time to find good deals on costumes that can be used for months, even years to come.

Instead of character costumes that will soon become dated, steer your child towards timeless classics that can easily be incorporated into future play such as a firefighter, fairy, princess and knight. Good quality costumes, such as those made by Melissa and Doug, don’t cost that much more the ones you can find at discount retailers and party stores and will stand up to daily use.

If you opt to make your own costume, look for high quality accessories that can double as toys throughout the year. In most cases the cost difference between a “costume” sword or wand and a “toy” one will be negligible but the difference in quality will be huge. Be sure that any face paints, jewelry and hair products are non-toxic and safe for your child to use.

2. Instead of buying decorations, have a blast making your own with your children. Not only will you save money, you’ll also be creating wonderful memories and help encourage your child’s creativity and exercise their fine motor skills. The Internet or your public library is a great source of ideas for easy to make, inexpensive craft ideas.

Be sure to take lots of pictures of the process and end results so that your children can show off their handy-work to friends and relatives!

3. Now is the time to start looking for deals on candy. You can often combine a manufacturer’s coupon with a sale for added savings. Buy candy that you won’t mind eating yourself in case there are leftovers!

4. Reduce your stress and save money by limiting the number of activities your family participates in this Halloween. Choose one or two that you’ll really enjoy - remember there is always next year! Older children can participate in the decision making process which will give them hands on experience in making priorities and weighing value-per-dollar.

5. Take advantage of after-holiday sales, but don’t go overboard. Clearance sales are the perfect opportunity to shop for higher-quality, nice to have decorations at a bargain price but don’t remember to stay in your budget and don’t buy any old thing just because it’s cheap. Don’t forget to grab any great costumes - you can save them for next  year, put them aside for Christmas and birthday gifts or dole them out on rainy days. Be sure you’ll be able to find what you’ve bought next year by storing all of your Halloween items together in clearly labeled boxes in one central location. After all, there’s nothing more frustrating (and less frugal) than buying something that you know you have but just can’t find!
As the proud parents of five pre-teen children, Carol and Jacob Maslow know quite a bit about the importance of play in a child's life. Carol is also a therapist who specializes in working with developmentally delayed preschoolers so that they can successfully integrate with their classmates. Jacob works for Today's Concept, where parents can find the highly regarded Melissa and Doug line of classic toys. Both firmly believe that the best toys don't use batteries!