Follow these tips to keep the cost of candy, costumes and decorations from reaching scary heights. By Cameron Huddleston, Former Online Editor October 14, 2014 It’s frightening just how much money will be spent on Halloween this year. Americans plan to shell out $7.4 billion -- about $78 per person -- on costumes, candy, cards and decorations, according to the National Retail Federation. SEE ALSO: Best and Worst Buys of October 2014 Don’t be scared, though. There are several ways to keep the cost of this spooky holiday under control. Here’s how you can save: Save on costumes Sell old costumes to offset the cost of new ones. If your kids (or you) aren’t willing to wear last year’s costume again, turn it into cash to help pay for this year’s costume, says Coupons.com savings expert Jeanette Pavini. You can sell costumes online through Craigslist.org or eBay. If you don’t want to deal with the hassle of selling costumes yourself, take them to a consignment store. Most consignment stores will split the proceeds 50-50 with you. However, some resale stores might pay you upfront because Halloween costumes are in demand now, Pavini says. Swap with friends. Check community center calendars to see if costume swap events are being hosted in your area. If not, organize one of your own with parents at your child’s school, says Regina Novickis, a consumer expert for Slickdeals.net. Advertisement Buy used. You’ll pay a fraction of the full retail price if you buy gently used costumes at a thrift store or consignment store. Or you might find attire than can be used as a costume, such as old bridesmaid dresses that can be turned into princess gowns. Make your own. Sites such as Pinterest are a great source of DIY costume inspiration. And making your own costume doesn’t necessarily require sewing skills. I created a tornado costume for my oldest daughter several years ago (she actually wanted to be a tornado) using poster board. I cut it in half, painted a tornado on each piece, glued some toy cows and cars onto the tornadoes, poked holes in the tops of the posters and used ribbon to drape the two images over my daughters' shoulders. The costume was a huge hit. Shop online. GoBankingRates.com looked at prices for this year’s top costumes at several retailers and found the best deals at Walmart.com, PartyCity.com and SpiritHalloween.com. Plus, it’s easy to find coupon codes for online retailers at sites such as BeFrugal.com, Coupons.com, Offers.com and SlickDeals.net. Get a deal on last year’s costumes. If you or your kids aren’t interested in dressing up in one of this year’s hot costumes, you can find deals on last year’s inventory that didn’t sell. Look for deeply discounted costumes in the clearance sections of brick-and-mortar stores or at online retailers, says Offers.com Vice President Howard Schaffer. Advertisement Wait until the last minute. You can save 30% to 40% off this year’s costumes if you wait to shop a day or two before Halloween, Schaffer says. The selection will be limited, but the deals will be there. Save on candy Choose treats carefully. Chocolate will also cost you more than hard candies, Novickis says. Or consider buying inexpensive non-candy treats such as rubber spiders or Halloween erasers. Open these packages only as trick-or-treaters show up so you can return any unused packages to the store for a refund, she says. Don't rush to buy. Wait to buy candy until a day or two before Halloween. It’s more likely to be on sale, says Jon Lal, CEO and founder of BeFrugal.com, and you and your family won’t be tempted to eat it in the weeks leading up to the holiday. Look for coupons. You can find printable coupons at sites such as Coupons.com to cut the cost of candy purchased at a supermarket. Check Rather-Be-Shopping.com’s page of Halloween coupon codes for online retailers that are offering discounts on candy purchases. Advertisement Save on decorations Compare pumpkin prices. Pavini recommends calling pumpkin patches before visiting them to find out how their prices compare. Also check their Web sites to see if they’re offering any coupons or promotions, such as weekday discounts. You’ll probably save more money, though, by buying your pumpkins at the grocery store rather than a pumpkin patch, she says. Make your pumpkin last longer. If you plan to carve your pumpkin before Halloween, you don’t want it to decompose before the big night – forcing you to buy another one. To extend the life of your pumpkin, Novickis says you should clean out the inside after you gut it with bleach and water. Let it dry completely before carving, then spread petroleum jelly on the carved parts. And place cardboard under pumpkins rather than placing them directly on concrete. Check out dollar stores. Dollar stores that actually charge just $1 for everything are a great source of holiday decorations (see What to Buy at Dollar Stores). I found paper lanterns with a variety of Halloween designs (pumpkins, skeletons, bats) on them for $1 each at a dollar store. The lanterns have battery-operated lights, so they can be hung anywhere. Buy secondhand décor. Thrift and consignment stores are a great place to check for décor, Novickis says. Not only can you find actual Halloween decorations, but you can also get great dishware and bowls that can be painted or “dressed up” for the holiday, she says. Advertisement Look for Halloween-themed craft workshops at your local library, fabric store or craft store that your child can participate in to create décor for your home, Pavini says. Many are free or low cost. Get in touch with your crafty side. Why pay big bucks for an inflatable pumpkin or ghost for your yard when you can create a festive or eerie scene for a few dollars? You can spray-paint fallen branches and sticks black and put them in a planter outside or a vase inside. Hang a few homemade ghosts on the branches to add to the effect. Poke holes in tin cans to create luminaries. Cut several bats out of black construction paper and tape them to a wall. Stuff an old shirt and pants to create a "body" you can hang over a balcony or sit on a bench outside.