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How to Save on Halloween Candy

Posted By Jim On 10/20/2009 @ 12:21 pm In Frugal Living | 26 Comments

As the sugar-fueled, much anticipated mischievous holiday of Halloween draws near, frugal families are trying to figure out how they can save money on Halloween candy. Unfortunately for the money conscious, this year’s Halloween falls on the worst possible day, a Saturday. A Saturday Halloween means trick or treaters will be out earlier and longer than if it were on a workday and that means there will be more ghosts, pumpkins, and football player zombies wandering up to your door asking for candy.

However, if you’re smart about how you approach Halloween, you can save yourself some a little bit of money and every little bit counts.

Don’t Be Home

The simplest way to save money on Halloween is to be somewhere else. Turn off your outdoor lights, go see a dinner and a movie, and don’t give out any candy. Nothing requires you to stay home and give out candy, so if you really want to save money, don’t give any out! Heck, you don’t even have to leave, just don’t answer the door. If you want to participate, wonderful, but you don’t have to.

Recycle Candy

(This only works if you have children) When I was a kid, we used to “recycle candy.” As a safety precaution, my sister and I would trick or treat when it was still light out, usually between 5 – 7 PM. We would go out trick or treating and head home once our baskets were full. We’d sort through the candy in the living room, pick out the ones we really liked, and put the rest in the bucket our parents used to give out to trick or treaters visiting our house.

As kids, we loved doing this because there were candies we received but didn’t like. I was never a fan of primarily sugar based candies so those always went into the bucket. A lot of the generic candies weren’t very good either so they usually went back into the bucket (think of the lollipops in clear plastic you would get from the doctor’s office). If my sister and I weren’t going to eat them, it was better to give them back out than throw them away.

Buy Cheaper Candy

Sugar based candies are significantly cheaper than almost any candy that contains chocolate. You can buy sugar based candies or buy a mixture of sugar and chocolate based candies. Avoid the desire to get “good” candy because it’s not a contest. You don’t get anything, except for visitors, by getting a reputation of having “good” candy

One other strategy you can employ is to get a mixture of cheap and less cheap candy and give the better stuff to the better costumes or your neighbors’ children. The random kid won’t remember who gave them a snack-size snickers bar, but your neighbor’s kid might (plus they’re your neighbors, you probably want to be nicer to them anyway).

Give Out Candy Yourself

When my sister and I would trick or treat, the perfect house was the one where the owner would “let us pick our own candy” from the bucket. We would invariably take several pieces and always the good ones (duh! kids aren’t stupid). If you want to budget your candy, you’ll want to give it out yourself and be smart about pacing yourself as not to run out.

It’s OK to Run Out

I think a lot of homes buy way too much candy for fear of running out. Don’t be afraid of running out, it happens, and the kids won’t remember or care. If you have bad candy or run out, they’ll just go to the next house and forget all about you. If you run out, leave a note outside and don’t answer the door, unless you want to see the costumes and deliver a personal apology (that they will forget).

Those are just a few tips we’ve used over the years to save a little cash on Halloween candy. Do you have any good tips I haven’t mentioned? Please let us all know in the comments.

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