Pumpkin made of leaves

October Challenge: Scare up Some Extra Cash for Halloween

Something wicked this way comes: the tendency to overspend on Halloween. Spooky spending trends are on the rise in America. In fact, those who celebrate the holiday pay an average of around $86 on candy, celebrations, costumes and cards.(1) It’s scary how quickly your money can vanish before your very eyes. But it doesn’t have to.

You can have a fun fright night without financial fears. To keep from raking up bills that will haunt you, try out some of these quick money-saving and money-making tips.

Six Things to Cut Back On to Save Cash

1. Buy fewer new clothes.

Hey—don’t give us that look. We know perfectly well ‘tis the season for all things buffalo plaid. But part of your clothing budget line could go toward your costume instead.

Or—even better—figure out a way for the costume to be made of things you’d wear again in real life. For example, dressing as a lumberjack is a first-rate reason to buy new flannel; Marty McFly means purchasing a red puffy vest; Rosie the Riveter needs a chambray top; and Breakfast at Tiffany’s Audrey Hepburn is an excellent excuse to nab a new little black dress. Two purposes for the price of one—this is how we do it.

2. Don’t drink your budget away.

Cut back on your coffee stops and alcohol consumption. These pricey purchases are quick to drain the life right out of your budget. On the flip side, spending less on sips screams super savings.  

3. Eat out less.

It’s just a month, friends. You can do it! Cut back on your restaurant budget. In fact, if you follow this tip with super strictness, you’ll probably carve out enough extra money to put some savings into your Christmas fund as well.

This means eating at home more, which means more preparation. But if you work on meal planning, couponing, cooking foods already in your pantry or freezer, and smart shopping, you can save money and calories. Winner, winner, home for dinner.

4. Drive less.

Think “carpool and consolidate.” See if you and a coworker or friend can trade off on the driving this month. And don’t drive to the store for every little thing. Consolidate trips out: Gas is expensive, and broomsticks don’t really fly. Be more intentional when you’re planning any shopping trip, so you only need to make one.

5. Plan a few “no spend” days.

Turn saving into a game or challenge—with yourself. Select a couple of days in October as “No Spend Days.” This means exactly what it says: On those days, you just say no to the macchiatos at your fav coffee bar or the magazine at the checkout line. Make sure you’re packing your lunch and have gas in the tank, or you could end up slipping.

Of course, there’s no real penalty for “losing” this game. However, you’ll gain extra cash if you can stick it out the entire time.

6. Don’t waste utilities.

Be efficient with energy. Turn off lights as you exit a room. Change that thermostat dial: Try a degree or two different when you’re home and several degrees while you’re at work. Set your water heater at 120 degrees. This saves money, energy and the risk of scalding.

It doesn’t always take a huge shift in your actions to make an impact on your wallet. These are little changes that could easily rustle up the extra $86 you need to be monster mashing on October 31 with the best of them.

Six Ways to Make Extra Cash

1. Take people food.

And get paid doing it! It’s one of the main physical needs of a human: eating. And plenty of people today pay extra for the ease of having meals, snacks and even groceries delivered to their very door.

Shipt, Bite Squad, and UberEATS are three examples of companies offering opportunities to people needing side money who are willing to drive and deliver.

2. Take online surveys.

This one probably sounds like a scam. And there are plenty of scams in this field—but there are also plenty of legit chances to make money with online surveys like Survey Junkie, Swagbucks, and Vindale Research. In many cases, each survey pays very little. So you might have to do a lot of clicking—never, rarely, or always—to make it worth it. Still, earning money in your jammies on your couch isn’t a bad deal.

3. Take on cleaning or lawn work.

Offer your services cleaning a few houses, picking up some landscaping odd jobs, or mowing a few lawns for the month. If you don’t feel like keeping this side gig beyond October, let people know that intention. You can even market yourself as a one-time deal—battling that monstrous mulch project or deep cleaning so the homeowners are left with just the normal upkeep. In the daily hustle and bustle of life, it’s easy for people to continually put off those undesirable undertakings. When you’re willing to tackle these tasks, everyone gets ahead.   

4. Sell things.

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again and again: When you need quick money, sell your stuff. You have plenty of good intentions lying around that could turn into cash. Those exercise DVDs, that unopened calligraphy set, the half-read self-improvement book you won’t finish. All these things deserve to belong in a new home where they’ll be used and appreciated. Find them their rightful home, and you can get some cold hard cash. The new owners, your old stuff, and you will be one happy trio.

5. Take up babysitting, pet-sitting or house-sitting.

Babies, pets, and houses—they need not go unattended when you’re around and looking for money this month. And though October doesn’t hold a high-travel holiday like November and December, people still leave town all times of the year.

Let people with children, fur children or homes know you’re available and qualified to help. How do you get the word out? Try social media, work forums, or texting your social group.

6. Take wedding side gigs.

Plenty of people want to share autumnal vows, with 40% of weddings happening in the fall.(2) Specifically, October 7, 14, and 21 were three of the top five most popular wedding dates in 2017.(3) Profit from the perfectly timed love of others by using your skills to work at least one weekend in October. Bartend the reception, hand-letter some signage, design programs, play your keytar in a live jazz band, do hair or makeup, shoot photos, coordinate the big day, or be a server in a banquet room. Just by doing one of those things, you can earn enough for all your Halloween dreams (or whatever else you’d like a little extra cash for).

That’s right—if you’ll tighten your spending or sign up for a little extra work, you can enjoy the holiday without marking RIP on your bank account.

Soon you’ll be set to buy that bulk bag of bonbons, a rainbow sweater for your dog and a pink suit for you (Elle Woods and Bruiser, anyone?), pumpkin greeting cards, and all those Day of the Dead decorations. You and your budget will be ready for every thrilling moment of this haunting holiday. Boo!

Don’t forget—log in to your EveryDollar account to add in a Halloween budget line to October!