Don't let Halloween give you financial fears

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From haunted houses to creepy costumes, Halloween is full of fun and frightening things-but the price tag shouldn't be one of them. Adults and children alike revel in the annual opportunity to dress up in wild costumes, throw Halloween parties and buy candy assortments by the pound, but one night of entertainment can eat up your monthly budget.

For example, the average ready-made costume costs around $30-m eaning a family of four could easily spend $120 on garments that are worn for only a few hours. Smart families looking for a spooktacular time without the ghoulish cost should consider these money saving ideas from Money Management International (MMI) before hitting the costume shop or candy aisle.

Develop a spending plan. Before you load up on Halloween goodies, decide on a budget, make a shopping list and stick to it. Be sure to include everything on your list-candy, costumes, make-up, decorations, pumpkins, carving knives, greeting cards and stamps-to avoid unexpected expenses.

Shop resale. Combing the racks of a resale shop can uncover a treasure trove of costume pieces for an 80's rock star, pirate, hippie or gypsy.

Buy candy in bulk. Halloween is the biggest candy-selling holiday of the year for a reason. Split a large bag of candy with a friend or family member, buy generic candy, use coupons and shop at your local drug store for great deals on sweet treats.

Check your closet and make your own costumes. Pull out your Hawaiian shirt, fanny pack, camera, sunglasses, suitcase and several maps to create the ultimate tourist. With a bed sheet, plastic crown and a torch made from paper grocery sacks, anyone at your house can be the Statue of Liberty. Another versatile look is the Roman Emperor-all you need is a bed sheet, a homemade crown of leaves and a pair of sandals.

Design your own decorations. Turn your yard into a cemetery by cutting heavy cardboard into tombstones and writing creative epitaphs on them. Create spider webs by wrapping yarn or stretching cotton balls around the entrance to your house. Make a scarecrow by stuffing an old pair of pants and a shirt with balled up newspaper or autumn leaves, and top him off with a pumpkin head.

It is easy to forget how close Halloween is to the holiday season kick off-we often don't lump it in with our annual spending extravaganza. Plan ahead and pay with cash whenever possible-adding to your credit balance can cause you a real scare when the bills arrive. In the long run, it does not make financial sense to go into debt over a few hours of fun when all you'll have left the next day is a bunch of candy wrappers.