Spend Less at Halloween and Other Holidays

October 28, 2022, 10:04 am | Carol Ehlers

Close-up of children with pumpkins bags playing trick or treat outdoors by AnnaStills/stock.adobe.com.STORM LAKE, Iowa - In spite of growing recession concerns, more than half of Americans are expected to celebrate Halloween this year. And while it isn’t marked as an "official" public holiday, it is a critical ingredient for considering the financial health of United States retailers and consumer sentiment.

In 2007, for example, the average American spent $65 on Halloween, but post-recession, spending fell to a low of $56.

The National Retail Federation annual estimate projects that spending on Halloween candy, costumes and decor will hit an all-time high of $10.6 billion in 2022; in 2021 Americans spent just over $10 billion.

“I think it is safe to say that this is also the time of year when families need to consider budgeting for other upcoming holiday spending and eliminating areas of waste, which may include money spent on candy,” said Carol Ehlers, human sciences specialist in family finance and wellbeing with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

Royal Statistical Society statistician Liberty Vittert calculated in 2019 a “back-of-the-envelope” estimate showing Americans waste about $400 million on Halloween candy each year. While that may sound like a lot, it equates to about $5 per person who participates in the holiday, according to Vittert, a data science professor and ambassador for the Royal Statistical Society.

“The National Retail Federation predicts we will spend nearly $2.6 billion on candy this Halloween – the most candy intensive holiday we have – which equates to 600 million pounds or 3.5 pounds of candy per trick-or-treater,” Ehlers said.

With the impact of high inflation increasing household spending around $450 per month, families benefit by prioritizing and planning for holiday spending. Here are some simple ways to save money at Halloween or other holiday times:

  • Start tracking how much is being spent on candy, costumes and decorations and decide on a limit. Writing it down impacts spending decisions and challenges the consumer to stop spending.
  • Create memories by making costumes and decorations with supplies you have in the closet or can sleuth out at a thrift seller.
  • Substitute candy with seasonal foods like Carmel Apples and Pumpkin treats that can be made at home or consider handing out a little toy, stickers or pencil.
  • Participate in free holiday events and take advantage of what’s already going on in your church or community. Consider free harvest events, corn mazes or pumpkin patches at fall festivals.

Free financial counseling is available to all Iowa residents through ISU Extension and Outreach’s human sciences specialists in family wellbeing and finance. Specialists can help revise budgets, prioritize spending and link you to community resources. To contact a specialist, call Iowa Concern at 800-447-1985 and ask for free financial counseling.

Find this and more family finance information by visiting or subscribing to ISU Extension and Outreach’s MoneyTip$ blog.

Photo credit: AnnaStills/stock.adobe.com

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