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by Maurie Backman | Published on Oct. 19, 2021
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The only thing more frightening than Halloween is the amount of debt it could cause.
There's a reason supermarkets have had Halloween candy on display since Labor Day. Americans love Halloween. From spooky decorations to creative costumes to treats galore, Halloween is one of those holidays that's easy to embrace.
But Americans' love of Halloween could also end up hurting their bank accounts. A good 36% of consumers plan to spend more money this year on the holiday than they did last year, according to a recent survey by CIT Bank. And if you're planning to go a similar route, that's a mistake that could haunt you for years.
Taking on even a small amount of debt for Halloween spending could end up hurting you more than you'd think. Say you rack up a $200 credit card balance during spooky season, thinking you'll pay it off in a few months' time.
Even if your credit card charges more interest than the average card, if you manage to pay off a $200 balance by the end of the year, the damage should be minimal. But if you had to charge that $200 in Halloween expenses and carry the balance forward, you might be likely to also rack up a balance for Thanksgiving and the year-end winter holidays. The result? A pile of debt going into 2022.
Not only can credit card debt cost you money in the form of interest, but too much of it can hurt your credit score. And that could kick off a cycle where borrowing in the first place becomes more expensive. So you're better off avoiding that horror if at all possible.
If you have a tendency to go all out on Halloween and have money to pull from savings, then go for it. It's been a tough year, and there's nothing wrong with littering your lawn with giant pumpkins and buying 12 varieties of fun-sized treats at the grocery store.
But if you're living paycheck to paycheck and don't have much wiggle room to spend on Halloween, set a spending limit. Figure out what your priorities are for the holiday and then put together a budget you can stick to.
Say you can afford to spend an extra $50 on Halloween this year. That may mean skipping the decorations so you can buy your kids new costumes and have money left over to give out candy to trick-or-treaters.
Remember, too, that there may be options for adjusting your plans so you're not forced to spend as much. If you can't swing a big Halloween display, enlist the help of your kids to create a spooky vibe at home. Have them draw pictures of monsters and goblins, and if you have a few old sheets lying around, converting them to hanging ghosts should be a pretty easy feat.
It's great to be excited about Halloween, but do your best to not land in credit card debt because of it. Otherwise, you could end up with a real nightmare on your hands.
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