DIY tips for a cheap Halloween

Halloween ranks on everyone’s list of favorite holidays (okay, maybe not everyone). But as much as we love it, it’s no fun paying $50 or more for flimsy kids’ costumes, or even one for yourself. Fortunately, you don’t have to. Halloween is about showing your personality, and there are countless ways to put together a wonderful costume without blowing a bundle. Here are just a few.

Don’t procrastinate

Starting your costume search two days before is a recipe for disappointment. You’ll be elbow-to-elbow in a panicked frenzy, fighting over what’s left in the costume aisles. Plus, last-minute shopping always costs you more in the end. So get an early start. It also helps to have some extra time to add the finishing touches. You really can’t start too early, so keep your eyes open year-round for the best costume ideas and you’ll be surprised how the ideas appear when you’re not even thinking about it.

levi-saunders-327323Look around you

Start your costume search at home. You probably have more than you realize (for instance, that graduation robe will work perfectly for a Harry Potter costume). Just rifling through closets will give you some ideas, but there are also plenty available online that can spark imagination, especially for timely, current event-related costumes. Pinterest and even YouTube are also great resources for ideas.

Recycle itsaksham-gangwar-159645

Secondhand and thrift stores are Halloween meccas. Vintage pieces, used work clothing and accessories can be mixed and matched in thousands of ways. Remember, a great costume is about the details, but that doesn’t mean getting every detail perfect. Just a couple of well-observed pieces can really turn an outfit into a costume.

Make it a date

Couples costumes are super fun, but let’s be honest – they work best if you assemble them together, right? Isn’t there (wink) far too much risk of mismatch if you don’t do it together? You see what we’re getting at here? That’s right. Turn the couples costuming into a really fun date. And encourage each other to save at the same time.

There’s always a way

Halloween is about being creative. Want to make your own costume/s but can’t sew? Try fabric glue. Making a tutu for one night of trick-or-treating is different from making something that’s going to see the ballet stage. There are hacks available for getting almost any costume through a night. If you have an idea but aren’t sure how to put it together, check online – there’s probably a YouTube tutorial that can walk you through it.

No matter how you do it, Halloween costumes are just darn fun. And now, cost doesn’t have to be prohibitive.

Benefits of Shopping Locally

Everyone knows that local businesses face stiff challenges. Major big-box stores and online retailers are dominating with greater selection and generally lower prices. While that may be convenient for you as a shopper, there are still plenty of reasons to support businesses within your own community.

Better for the communityilham-hanifa-65780

A big reason to support local businesses is that the people who run them are your neighbors. Buying local helps your community because those businesses are more likely to invest profits right back into the community – buying supplies, advertising, using local contractors, and much more. In fact, one study found that for every $100 spent at a local business, $68 remained in the community, versus only $43 of $100 spent at a chain retailer. And, shopping at an online retailer that’s not local returns far less than that. You might not see the benefit immediately, but over time, the community gains from local businesses because those tax dollars go toward better schools and public services. Strong local businesses also make your town a better, more interesting place to live and visit.

raquel-martinez-96648Keep it fresh with farmers markets

Farmers markets are the very definition of local. But when it comes to food, many people often assume terms like “local” or “organic” translate to “expensive.” However, increasing competition, and the lack of middlemen, has made buying local food more affordable. Additionally, local means you’re buying healthier foods for your family because it’s often fresher and more nutritious. Added bonus: It usually tastes better, too.

Local handmade goods can cost lessmike-wilson-263703

Unless you’re buying a car, home appliance or smartphone, handmade can be the way to go. It’s so much nicer to have things like artwork, quilts, candles, furniture and even some clothing, that are unique, and often one-of-a-kind. Of course, it’s possible to find handmade items online, but once again, there are middlemen involved who want their cut. And if you’re buying locally, you can feel good about supporting your talented neighbors.

Thrift stores are nifty

Thrift stores rock. Every trip feels like a treasure hunt. You never know exactly what you’re going to find, but often enough, you find a gem at a bargain price. It’s not uncommon to find designer clothing at a fraction of the cost, and non-designer clothes are always available for very little. Thrift stores also allow you to develop your own unique wardrobe without having to worry about seeing someone else in the same national chain outfit. And when it comes to keeping kids clothed, thrift stores are a lifesaver. You’ll also find tons of options for your next Halloween costume.

dan-gold-272398Room to negotiate

Those big-box stores have low prices but the only negotiating they’ll do is to match another store’s price. Your local business is generally more open to price negotiation, especially on products that have been sitting around for a long time. And, after a couple of visits, they might recognize your face and throw in a freebie with your order. When was the last time Walmart gave you a free pastry?

Banking in your community

You might have heard this from us before, but when it comes to financial institutions, staying local really makes sense, especially at your community credit union. As with retail stores, more of your money stays in the community, but the impact can be immediate in the form of better rates, fewer fees or even member paybacks. And as a credit union member, you generally receive more personal service and have a partner with no ulterior motives in managing your finances.