We're placing bets that a twerking Miley Cyrus will be one of the most popular Halloween costumes this year. As the pop star’s shirts keep getting smaller, Halloween spending seems to be creeping up. A new Scotiabank poll has found that Canadians will spend, on average, about $70 each on costumes, parties, and candy. That’s a number certified financial planner Lise Andreana finds just plain scary.
“OK, I accept people spend too much on frivolous garbage which will end up in the trash the first week of November,” says Andreana, founder of Burlington’s Continuum II, a financial planning firm. “I suspect those spending $70 do not have a Halloween budget. You can’t take it out of the grocery or rent money, so it’s going to ultimately come out of money targeted for savings.”
The survey also found that B.C. residents will spend the most on Halloween ($82) compared to revelers in Atlantic Canada ($51). And just 15 per cent of Canadians save in advance for Halloween expenses.
Aside from the obvious advice such as “make your own costume instead of buying one”, there are plenty of ways to keep All Hallows Eve costs down.
“Buy candy at the last minute,” says Vancouver certified financial planner Laura Chanin. “You won’t have the opportunity to eat it in advance and have to buy more.” And get the kind you don’t like so that you aren’t tempted to scarf it all down before the first chorus of “Trick or treat!” at your door.
Andreana suggests buying candy in bulk, especially if you expect hordes of goblins in your ’hood.
Pause before you purchase that bloody life-size zombie and those Styrofoam tombstones to decorate your yard. “I see some absolutely extravagant yard displays; how much did they cost?” Andreana says. “Try and keep it simple and homemade using a few lights, an old pillow case, et cetera.
“Be frugal and cook that pumpkin after the big day,” she adds.
Stay strong if your kids are trying to talk you into buying them that all-the-rage Minecraft outfit.
“If your child wants a new costume, set a limit of what you will contribute, and if they go higher they need to pay the rest,” Chanin says. “This will work if they have an allowance or some savings, and it teaches them some good money skills.”
Plan ahead, says Scotiabank’s Mike Henry, senior vice president and head of retail payments, deposits and lending. And no, with the big event just over a week away, it’s not too late.
“Halloween is something we all know is coming but unplanned spending can be a bit of a wallet gremlin,” Henry says. “If you don’t have a plan that includes a budget, there’s no time like the present to get started ... Look at what cash is available to you and look at what credit is available ... Use credit responsibly: make sure you can pay it off and not carry a balance.”
To really plan in advance, buy discounted items for 2014.
“On Nov. 1, go to the Halloween stores to buy costumes and decorations for next year; they will be much less,” Chanin says.
Meanwhile, if your key concern is coming up with a costume this year, don’t worry; you’re not alone. The Scotiabank survey found that 18 per cent of Canadians are still deciding what to wear too. So far the most popular costumes for adults are vampires, witches, fairies and pirates.
It would probably be too cold to go as a scantily clad Miley Cyrus anyway.