Any expense that’s out of the routine can easily rattle a family that’s living paycheck to paycheck.

While most families know they should plan for Christmas and back-to-school expenses, other events and celebrations that come up during the year also can get very expensive, very fast – unless you make a plan on what you will spend money on, and stick to it.

Halloween is one of those times of year. Think about some of the conversations that take place in the fall:

Oh, that’s a cute costume. Oh, that’s a scary costume. Will the cousins come over for Trick-or-Treat? I love that cookie cutter. My friend sent us an invitation to a Halloween party. Did you see the neighbors have a big spiderweb decoration in the front yard? I love that cake pan. When are we going to the corn maze? Are we going to Halloweekends at Cedar Point? Did you see that the Rocky Horror Show will be staged again at River Raisin Centre for the Arts? When are we getting the pumpkins, the mums, the candy … ?

The National Retail Federation has not yet issued its 2009 Halloween spending analysis but here’s what the 2008 retail study found:

The average consumer in 2008 expected to spend $66.54 on holiday expenses. This included:

  • An average of $24.17 on Halloween costumes (including costumes for adults, children, and pets).
  • An average of $20.39 on candy.
  • An average of $18.25 on decorations.
  • An average of $3.73 on greeting cards.

What you going to spend your money on this year? Here’s what I’m expecting:

  • We don’t need costumes – we already have stuff from previous years that can carry over.
  • We don’t need greeting cards – we don’t send them for Halloween.
  • We won’t be going to a corn maze, pumpkin farm, the Rocky Horror show or a haunted house. The college daughter did go to Cedar Point last fall, but I don’t think she’ll have time to go this year.
  • We didn’t have any pumpkins during the past two years. Nobody cared one way or the other, so I didn’t spend the money.
  • I did buy some Halloween lights this year.
  • I already have some themed table linens and candy bowl.
  • I’ll be buying candy to pass out.
  • We don’t need anything to carry candy in – we are now in the demographic that hosts, rather than begs, candy.

So our family’s total Halloween expenses will be about $30 this year – possibly bumping up to $40 if I change my mind about buying something. Some flowers might be nice.

Update: Be sure to check the more recent posts in my Halloween archives for the price ranges I have been seeing in October 2010; along with links to the trick-or-treat times and holiday events in Monroe County, Mich.

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