Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared on Living on the Cheap.
Ding-dong! It’s time to start building your stockpile of candy for the annual parade of trick-or-treaters on Oct. 31. It’s estimated Americans spend approximately $10 billion (!) every year for Halloween.
Of course, bargain boogeymen can be frightened by the high prices of candy this time of the year. We all want to be generous with every witch, superhero and little goblin who comes knockin’ at the door, but we also don’t want to break the bank.
Plus, let’s be honest, every family needs a few extra bags for sampling at home. We’ve scared up a few tips and tricks for finding sweet savings and cheap Halloween candy.
1. Clip and save candy coupons
No need for any spells to find savings on candy — just a good pair of scissors and a bargain hunter’s eye. Because the candy competition is at its peak in October, the market is flooded with coupons just about everywhere you look.
You will easily find manufacturer’s coupons in every Sunday paper and printable coupons online. You can also find coupons right on packages or tear pads in the store aisles. And, now that we live in the digital age, also be sure to check each of your shopper loyalty accounts for digital coupons.
2. Purchase Halloween candy in multiples
Every retailer and candy manufacturer wants you to buy more candy, so they’re quick to offer an incentive. Just about every store offers a discount for multiple purchases — the more you buy, the more you save.
Typically, the offer is to buy a designated amount of bagged candy and save an additional dollar amount off at check-out. If you do the math, it would simply be frightening to not buy a few more bags and pocket the savings.
Even better, use manufacturer’s coupons on top of the sale price for scream-worthy Halloween candy savings.
3. Check the regular candy aisle, too
It’s hard to resist the big display of candy amid the large cardboard cut-outs of haunted trees and pumpkins in every store. However, don’t forget to check the regular candy aisle, too.
Of course, stores want you to focus on the Halloween-themed candy they’re pushing, but that doesn’t mean sales and discounts don’t exist in the regular candy aisle. In the end, who cares if the candy wrapper has a ghost on it or the chocolate is shaped like a pumpkin? All everyone cares about is the sweet treat inside!
4. Don’t overlook full-size candy bar deals
It’s easy to discount full-size bars as too expensive to hand out to trick-or-treaters. However, you might be surprised at the powerful potion of coupons and sale prices. Not only is bagged candy on sale, but full-size candy bars often get the same treatment, too.
Many stores offer candy bars for two for $1 or BOGO free. When you combine the sale with a manufacturer’s coupon, you can often get full-size candy bars for around 25 cents each or, even better, free.
The best places to buy Halloween candy are at grocery chains that double coupons, so you get extra savings. Full-size candy bars will definitely make you the hit of the neighborhood by any kid’s standard. Or just purchase a few of the discounted full-size candy bars for family members or those extra-special kids on your block.
5. Buy Halloween candy in bulk
If you’re expecting lots of little ones ringing your bell on Halloween night, consider buying candy in bulk at a wholesale club. (And read our articles about saving money at Costco and Sam’s Club for more year-round tips.)
They aren’t the cheapest places to buy Halloween candy, but their prices are usually less than what you’d pay at the grocery store.
To really get in on the Halloween savings, ask friends, neighbors or co-workers to split the cost. Have the person with the club membership buy several bags of candy and then have a grown-up gathering to divvy up the goods and the bill.
6. Consider candy alternatives
You don’t want to be labeled the neighborhood witch or warlock, but who says you’re required to hand out candy? If you find a great deal (check the clearance racks) on little trinkets or toys, stickers, books or party favors, consider handing those out instead of candy.
Or, use alternatives to supplement your candy supply — switch back and forth between candy and toys. Kids may feel slightly tricked, but parents will appreciate your efforts to save their sweet tooth … literally. Plus, it’s always good to have options on hand for children with food allergies.
7. Hand out coupons, not treats
If you’re looking for convenience and low cost, consider buying Halloween coupon books at national fast-food chains. For $1, you can usually get five to 10 coupons good for a FREE small cone or shake.
The most popular are from McDonald’s and the Boo Book from Wendy’s. (The price paid for each coupon definitely outweighs the regular price of each treat, often a savings of 75% or more.)
Of course, the fast-food chains are hoping that, when the children redeem the coupon, parents will tag along and spend some dough on other menu items. That’s why they offer them so cheaply!
8. Buy last season’s candy
This tip is for true cheapskates. With candy being so central to just about every holiday, be strategic and buy the candy on clearance after previous holidays in the year — think Valentine’s Day, Easter and Fourth of July — and stash it away for Halloween.
Once a holiday is over, stores need to get rid of all the extra candy on the shelves and prepare for the new shipment of candy for whatever holiday is next. With a little patience, you can often get candy at 90% off.
Chocolate is not an option because it’s challenging to store and often has a short shelf life. However, if you stick with hard candy, gummies and chewing gum, you should be fine, as most have expiration dates of six months to a year. You could even shop this year’s Halloween candy sales and hide the bags of goodies until next October rolls around.