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10 Ways to Save Money This Halloween

10 Ways to Save Money This Halloween

Halloween is probably the most fun holiday of the year, isn’t it? Sure, you can stuff yourself with Christmas dinner and revel in all the socks and underwear that your relatives have given you, but on what other occasion can you dress up in a costume, run around in the dark pretending to be something you’re not, gorge on sweets, and howl at the moon? This is a perfect opportunity to delight in all things dark and spooky-like, and you don’t have to break the bank in order to celebrate in style.

Costumes

Naturally, one of the most important aspects of Halloween is a good costume. Some people go all-out and spend an entire year creating an outfit that will blow all their friends away, but that takes a lot of time, energy, and money. You can put together some really great costumes for a fraction of the cost with a few of these simple suggestions:

Pool Resources

Get together with a bunch of friends, and bring everything in your closet that could possibly be used as part of someone’s costume. Do you have a feather boa left over from a friend’s stagette? Bring that. An old frilly blouse that you’ll never wear again? Bring that too. Your friends might have some pieces that can inspire your own costume idea, and an item that you bring might be the key element in another’s ensemble.

Go Thrift Shopping

Used clothing stores like Goodwill, Value Village, or a myriad other secondhand shops are absolute treasure-troves when it comes to putting together outfits, but the key is to hit them up early: there’s usually a mad rush at the end of October when people search for last-minute costume ideas, and you want to get in ahead of the crowd. These shops sometimes carry wedding gowns, evening dresses, and suits for $5-$10 apiece, and accessories can be as cheap as a quarter. If you already have an idea in mind for what you’d like to dress up as, definitely shop around the thrift stores to see what you can find. If you’re stumped, a visit might inspire you.

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Decorations

Hit the Thrift Store Again

Another great thing about thrift shops is that they tend to carry decorations as well. Some of the trendier places may have Halloween decorations like spider webbing, window decals, etc. for a third of what regular stores will charge, but you might also find some unique treasures that can be tweaked slightly to interesting effect.

Are you familiar with those porcelain angels and cherubs that some people decorate their homes with? Those can very easily be painted black, and then decorated with white accent paint to create flying skeletons. If you find old dolls, they can be aged with paint effects to look downright terrifying. Imagine a display of creepy dolls set around white-painted pumpkins? *shudder*

Dollar Stores

It’s nearly guaranteed that there will be a dollar store somewhere in your area, and you will undoubtedly find some interesting stuff in there to decorate your place with. Go to the craft section and pick up some packages of construction paper for $1 each: you can cut out shapes like bats or skulls and make garlands of them. In the party section, you’re sure to find orange and black streamers that you can intertwine, and depending on the size of the shop, there might even be a dedicated Halloween section.

Print Your Own

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For invitations, spooky bottle labels, gift tags, and headstones, you can just print your own and stick them onto the surface of choice with a bit of glue or mod podge. Do a quick google search for free Halloween printables, and when you print them out, you can augment them with some extra calligraphy or drawings of spooky things.

Candy

Whether you’ll be throwing sugary treats at neighbourhood kids or collecting candy for a party, you’ll need a wide variety to keep everyone happy. If you pick up those pre-packaged packs at the supermarket or pharmacy, you’ll spend an insane amount of money for very little.

Go to a Bulk Food Store

These places are absolutely incredible, seriously. It’s best to give yourself a strict budget when going, otherwise you might end up in a feeding frenzy and spend far more than you’d intended: I’d recommend taking some cash out and leaving your debit and credit cards at home, lest you be tempted.

If you’re handing out candy, fill your bags with items that are packaged individually so you don’t run the risk of scaring anyone with the possibility of tainted food. Wrapped toffee bites, gum, rockets, lollopops, miniature candy bars—these are all perfect for giving out to the wee trick-or-treaters, and are far cheaper in bulk than pre-packaged.

If you’re amassing candy for parties, you can go for the bulk goods that aren’t wrapped, as it’ll just be friends, family, etc. who are eating it. You can go nuts with everything from candy corn and eyeball gobstoppers to liquorice spiders.

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Speaking of parties…

BYOC (Bring Your Own Candy)

If you’re throwing a party, feel free to ask guests to contribute to the buffet! You can even word things in your invitations to imply that every visiting ghost, goblin, witch, sorcerer, and zombie must bring an offering for the altar (or somesuch). This keeps your cost down, and you might be pleasantly surprised to discover new snacks and sweets that others may bring.

Meals and Snacks

BYOF

As with the “Bring Your Own Candy” idea mentioned above, make your Halloween party event a potluck one: the more that others contribute, the less you have to make.

3:1 Ratio of Inexpensive:Costly

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Remember that some of the best foods out there aren’t necessarily the priciest ones. Snacks like “spiderweb eggs” are super-easy to make for the simple cost of a dozen eggs (hard-boiled) and a bit of black food colouring. You can make a spicy snack mix with a combination of salted nuts and assorted dry cereals, and hit up Chinatown for some inexpensive raw produce like baby carrots, celery, cauliflower etc. as crudites. For every 3 items you have that are low-cost, you can splurge a little bit and spend a little more on 1 luxury item. Maybe you’d like an avocado to add some green goo (not to mention deliciousness) to your table, or some bocconcini balls to stuff with olives as eyeball canapes; either way, if you stick to this ratio, you’ll keep your costs down gorgeously.

Drinks

It really goes without saying that no celebration is complete without lovely libations to toast at the witching hour, but I’ll mention it here all the same.

Non-alcoholic drinks are far cheaper to create than the boozy versions (obviously), but you can follow the 3:1 ratio you used for your food when dealing with drinks as well, to great effect. Non-alcoholic drinks like the cream soda based Harry Potter-themed Butterbeer (which calls for both butter and cream) can also be made with margarine and milk. Mulled apple cider or juice is easy to make, and merely requires some cinnamon sticks and cloves to be simmered in the liquid for about 30 minutes.

If you make a couple of these inexpensive drinks, you can splurge a little bit and pick up a small bottle of black vodka to make drinks like a Screwed Up Screwdriver (with orange juice) or a Berry Scary Martini (with cherry or cranberry juice).

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Catherine Winter

Catherine is a wordsmith covering lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on October 20, 2020

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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  • (1) Research
  • (2) Deciding the topic
  • (3) Creating the outline
  • (4) Drafting the content
  • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
  • (6) Revision
  • (7) etc.

Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

2. Change Your Environment

Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

6. Get a Buddy

Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

7. Tell Others About Your Goals

This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

Reality check:

I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future. Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

Bonus: Think Like a Rhino

More Tips for Procrastinators to Start Taking Action

Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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