Halloween costumes, parties and decorations don’t have to break the bank. Here’s how to save money this season!

Who doesn’t love a spooky costume or awesomely gruesome snack that looks like brain matter? When it comes to Halloween, the more eerie, elaborate or over-the-top, the better. But all those decorations, fancy foods and masks cost money. In fact, according to Fortune.com, last year’s Halloween spending reached about $8.4 billion.

Our teams at the Family Horizons Credit Unions in Indianapolis and Greenfield love a good scare, but we love saving money even more. Fortunately, it’s possible to enjoy both. Here are some of our favorite tips for saving money while still having a blast on Halloween.

Tips for a Budget-Friendly Halloween

1. Shop for clearance items. There are lots of costume and decoration websites that feature clearance items. Do some digging, but make sure you order from reputable sites, and watch out for hidden fees or pricey shipping charges. And hit the clearance racks this year right after Halloween to stock up for next year’s celebrations.

2. Swap outfits. Most of us have boxes full of Halloween costumes, props and accessories from years past. Plan a get-together with neighbors, co-workers or friends for a costume swap. The more people involved, the better the choices.

3. Hit the thrift stores. It might take a little more time and patience, but you can strike gold at Goodwill and other local thrift stores. Whether you’re looking for home décor, party supplies or costumes, treasures await. But start your search early, and don’t limit your search to official Halloween-related items. Explore the regular clothing and home-goods sections, think outside of the box, and let your imagination soar. Hint: cheap black spray paint can transform candlesticks, figurines and other simple objects into spooky holiday décor in no time.

4. Shop without kids. While your children might have specific characters or party themes in mind, their enthusiasm in the shopping aisle can lead to unexpected budget-busting purchases. Get a general idea of what they want, and then go solo to the stores if you can. Your creative eye and resourcefulness can deliver, while avoiding the emotional roller coaster of weak moments or unmet expectations.

5. Set a Budget. Don’t blindly walk down the aisles or fill up your online shopping cart without having a budget. If credit cards are too dangerous, put your designated amount of cash in an envelope and once it’s gone, it’s gone!

6. Think pajamas. Have you noticed over the past five years or so the popularity of character pajamas for kids and adults alike? Discount stores are full of one-piece pajama sets that can serve as both the perfect Halloween outfit, and your go-to sleepwear for those cold winter nights.

7. Don’t forget the dollar stores. Need craft supplies for your decorations? What about napkins, party supplies and favors? Not only do dollar stores have awesome holiday sections, they also have everyday bargains that can be used for any occasion. And whenever possible, purchase serving trays, bowls and other party supplies in neutral colors. You can reuse them throughout the year for other events. You can show your specific holiday spirit with colorful napkins and other disposables.

8. Print it yourself. Instead of blowing your budget on expensive paper goods, print out your own invitations, bottle or food labels, gift tags and headstones. There are plenty of free Halloween templates available online, and when you print them out, you can enhance them with stickers, markers and glitter.

9. Buy in bulk. Bags of candy at your average grocery or drug store are insanely expensive – and usually very small. Go in with a friend or neighbor, and purchase your candy and party food at a bulk food store.

10. Make it a pitch-in. Make your event a collaborative effort – party guests love to contribute, especially when there’s a theme or challenge. For instance, include on your invitation something like, “Bring a spooky dish to share! Your category is: Witch’s Brew.” Other categories could include: Finger Food, Spooky Spirits, Grave Yard Goodies, etc. And if your menu includes spiked beverages, ask your guests to bring their favorite wine or brew to share.