Hordes of vampires and zombies can be terrifying—particularly if your home is on a popular trick-or-treat route. Then, the scare factor isn’t so much about the costumes as the candy bill.
The average family plans to spend a little less than $25 this year on candy, according to the National Retail Federation, but the bill can easily amount to more in high-traffic neighborhoods.
The good news? It can easily be less, too, with the right savings tricks:
Pick low-cost candies.
Chocolate tends to be more expensive. Stick to fruit-flavored candies to cut costs.
“As kids, you loved the parents who gave you the good stuff — Snickers, Butterfingers, Almond Joys — but as adults, you suddenly understand the ones who handed you Dots and Dum Dums,” says Kendal Perez of CouponSherpa.com.
Browse the sales.
Stores offer tempting sales on candy to get shoppers in to buy other items.
Keep an eye on weekly store circulars to get a few bags here and there, says Jon Lal, the founder of BeFrugal.com.
Watch for coupons.
This time of year, candy coupons often pop up in the Sunday newspaper ads, says Stephanie Nelson, founder of CouponMom.com.
There are also online manufacturer’s coupons. For example, Coupons.com currently has one for $1 off two bags of fun-size Mars Halloween candies.
Buy just enough.
“The challenge is to avoid overbuying,” says Nelson. “Who wants bags of leftover candy when our kids come home with far more than they need?”
Err on the side of caution and buy a little less. “If you run out of candy, you can always give out nickels or dimes to the later trick-or-treaters,” she says.
Open as you go.
“Forget the idea that you need to have a full bowl every time the doorbell rings,” says Candice Cerro of PromotionalCodes.com.
“Opening bags only when necessary and handing the candy out yourself can mean using less candy, which means you may be able to return unused bags after the night is over.”
Buying bulk bags at a warehouse club can be 25% cheaper, says Perez.
By her count, a 32.9-ounce bag of Hershey’s Super Mix Assorted Candy from Walmart costs $8.98. At Sam’s Club, a 57.35-ounce bag of the same variety runs just $2 more.
Even if you don’t need much, consider splitting the big bags with a friend or neighbor to save, says Lal.
Don’t be afraid to raid your kids’ bags—within reason.
“Families who go out earlier in the night should feel free to use extra unopened candy from their trip for trick-or-treaters who show up at the door later in the evening,” Cerro says.
Frugal Foodie is a journalist based in New York City who spends her days writing about personal finance and obsessing about what she’ll have for dinner. Chat with her on Twitter through @MintFoodie.