Americans love Halloween.  In fact, this October 31st holiday is second to Christmas as far as spending money.  In spite of a frightening economy, Americans are expected to spend 6.9 billion on Halloween this year alone.

I have many friends that spend very little on Halloween and have just as much fun, if not more than those who deplete their bank accounts. The trick is to treat the day like you would any other holiday, have a budget in mind.

Costumes can cost $50.00 to $100.00 to buy.  Costume rentals are a great option.  In the Binghamton area, you have Taylor Rental and Showtime Costumes that rent costumes for a fair price.  Sometimes it can be cheaper to actually buy your costume, especially if you plan to use your costume for a number of parties and functions. Party City in Johnson City has a very nice selection at fair prices.

If you choose to make your costume this year, a thrift store can be your best friend.  The Salvation Army Store and Thrifty Shopper may have some excellent ideas. For example, a simple black cape this year can be recycled to next year's Batman, witch or vampire costume.  Creativity will save you money.

If you hit a local dollar store right, you might be able to get some cheap makeup and Halloween decorations.  Better act fast because the dollar stores I have visited are already stocking Christmas items.

And planning for next year can save you a fortune.  Stores like KMart mark down everything on November 1st.  It may be worth it to stash that half priced costume in a tote or closet for next year.

In costume or not, I hope you plan to join us at the big Halloween Parade in Downtown Binghamton, Saturday October 26th. In our 4th year, it's always a blast and you can even dress up your pet to join you in the pet portion of the parade.  You can come as a spectator or you and your friends, organization or co-workers can walk in the parade or along side your favorite HAWK personalities.  To find out more about this fun parade, click HERE.

And if you're dressing up your little one, don't forget to enter this month's "Beautiful Baby Contest."  It may be the treat you need to reward your creativity.