Halloween is the season of ghost stories and haunted houses, ghouls and goblins, and a variety of other creatures that go bump in the night. But creepy crawlies and monsters are hardly the most frightening part of this time of year. Something even scarier lurks in the shadows: the cost of celebrating the spookiest season.

Halloween can deliver a spine-chilling bill for those on a budget. Between candy for trick-or-treaters, costumes, decorations, family outings, and parties, the festivities add up.

Spending way too much on Halloween can backfire, especially if you grab a credit card or line of credit to help stretch your budget. It’s never a good idea to put purchases on these accounts if you don’t know how you’ll pay them off. This debt can hang around long after you pack up your skeletons and cobweb decorations. For months, it may accrue interest, all while tying up your limit and leaving you vulnerable to nasty financial surprises.

If you want to keep your line of credit in check this Halloween, check out these money-saving tips below. They’ll help you escape the fall season with your finances intact.

Embrace DIY

Get creative and make your own costumes using items you already have at home or by visiting thrift stores. DIY costumes are not only budget-friendly and eco-friendly, but they also allow for unique and personalized outfits. The same goes for decorations. Crafting your own gravestones from cardboard and paint is a great activity for the whole family.

Can you sew? Try your hand at making a costume from scratch. But don’t worry if you can’t — there are no-sew options that are easy to whip together.

Visit the Dollar Store and Thrift Store

For those of us without a craft closet full of supplies, a totally DIY Halloween may not be possible. Before you purchase supplies from big brand stores, head to your local dollar and thrift stores. You might not believe it, but they usually have some hidden Halloween gems. Most even have an entire section dedicated to the season. You can find a wide range of festive items that won’t break the bank there, including spooky accessories, decorations, costumes and makeup, and even candy.

Host a Potluck

Whether you organize a sit-down dinner or a casual party, food can deliver a frightening bill this Halloween. To save some cash, consider hosting a potluck-style BYOB event. When each guest brings a snack to share, you won’t have to invest as much of your own money.

Pro tip: Assign your guests a course (or even specific Halloween-themed recipes) before the big day. This way, you won’t run the risk of five people showing up with their take on a green bean casserole.

Explore Your Town

Look for community events or local festivals that offer free or low-cost Halloween activities like pumpkin carving contests, costume parades, or haunted house tours.

Start Saving for Halloween Next Year

If you’re like most families, you wait until October to drag out your Halloween costumes and queue up your horror movie streaming list. But this could already be too late to prep your budget for the festivities.

We all tend to procrastinate when facing something daunting like a big bill, but delaying can harm your budget.  The earlier you start saving, the easier it will be to accommodate these expenses next year.

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