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Halloween on a Budget

The economy is forcing many people to scale back their Halloween spending this year, according the the National Retail Federation. Its annual survey shows that consumers plan to spend, on average, $10 less this year for candy, costumes and decorations. But the average tab still is expected to be about $56. That's not small change.

Savvy shoppers can cut Halloween spending even more by using coupons, taking advantage of sales, timing their purchases right and getting creative.

Costumes. Several children's stores, such as Children's Place, Gymboree and Old Navy, already have marked down prices on costumes. Anytime Costumes,, Costume Discounters and have lots of costumes on clearance. Retailers will mark down prices more as it gets closer to Halloween, so you might want to hold out for extra discounts and coupons, according to, which lets you sign up for coupon alerts.

Candy. Buy in bulk online and use a coupon. has a coupon code for 15% off any purchase at Candy Crate, which has 5-pound bags of candy that could last you until next Halloween. Check your Sunday paper and mailers for local coupons.

Decorations. I've always found great deals on indoor decor at T.J. Maxx, which marks down Halloween items even more after October 31. Or make your own decorations. When former Starting Out columnist Erin Burt wrote Holiday Entertaining on a Budget a couple years ago, our boss jokingly asked whether she was going to recommend collecting pine cones and using them as decorations. Halloween is supposed to be spooky, not fancy. So a vase full of gourds and sticks, branches and dried leaves can create a big impact for little cost. Check out and for inspiration. (Or e-mail me-- I throw a Halloween party every year and have tons of ideas.)

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