Mark Twain once wrote, “never put off till tomorrow what you can do day after tomorrow just as well.” Have you felt like Halloween just completely snuck up on you this year? That’s exactly how I I am feeling this year. And every year. And actually I feel that way about almost every holiday. What can I say, I’m a stage 5 procrastinator at heart. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Halloween. But for some reason, I never plan well for this holiday. Maybe it’s because I know that I have a fairly epic dress up box I can pull from. Which comes in handy because we are paying off more than $600k in debt and don’t have a ton of extra cash to spend on Halloween swag. Anyway, are you also paying off debt? Perhaps you are in the same predicament. You love Halloween, but you’ve kind of procrastinated and you really shouldn’t be spending a lot of money on it. Here is how you can put together a last minute Halloween costume on a budget.



Here is how we dressed and what I spent on our last minute Halloween costume on a budget.

We dressed up as Smee, Hook, and Peter Pan.

Smee, Hook, and Peter Pan: pirate hook: $2.99 (Party City), pirate sword: $1.99 (Party City), green shirt: $1.97 (on clearance rack at Walmart), green felt (hat, belt for Peter Pan): $0.99

Things we had on hand: blue and white striped shirt, red beanie, Birkenstock’s, red feather, moccasins, pirate shirt and pirate hat

Total cost of our costumes this year: $7.94 (plus tax)

As you can see, we didn’t go ALL out on our costumes this year. But we did stay festive, and we didn’t overspend, which was the goal. You might not have an epic dress up box (because if you are reading this, there is a good chance that you are an adult). But, there are still plenty of things you can do to put together a last minute Halloween costume on a budget.


(1) Check your closet (or dress up box) for inspiration first.

The first thing you should do to throw together a last minute Halloween costume on a budget is to start by checking around your own home for things you already have that can be put to good use. For example, this year, our entire family theme stemmed from the fact that I owned a blue and white striped shirt that I wear in real life. Every time I wear it I think of Smee. So then I started scrounging around our house for other things that Smee would have worn. I happened to own a pair of Birkenstock’s #cuziamdwightschrute, owned a red slouchy beanie and boom! There is Smee. Then I rifled through our dress up box and was pleased to find some pirate attire. Baby M owned a pair of moccassins but otherwise I needed to purchase the rest of his giddup, fortunately, it was cheap.

(2) Check your house for useful items. 

If you are really trying to throw together a last minute Halloween costume on a budget, there are plenty of things you can do with simple items such as cardboard (maybe you could be a robot?), construction paper (rubix cube? The game Twister?), yarn (Raggedy Ann/Andy?), and paint. These kind of items can come in handy for just about any costume, so definitely start with what you have.

(3) Trade with or borrow old costumes from friends and family. 

Don’t have any costumes, inspiration, or useful items at home? Fret not. You can still put together a last minute Halloween costume on a budget by checking with friends and family to see what they have before you go out and make any purchases. Since you are all dressing up for Halloween each year, there is a good chance you own something (and someone else owns something) that can be reused or re-purposed.

(4) Check clearance racks and thrift stores first.

If you are still stuck, start by checking clearance racks and thrift stores for good finds. For M’s first Halloween, I found an adorable T-REX costume at a thrift store for $5 which inspired our theme to be Jurassic Park characters. Halloween costumes can get crazy expensive if you are paying full price so always check clearance racks and thrift stores first!

Happy Halloween! What are you dressing up as this year? 

Stay in the loop! Gain access to all of my money saving hacks I’m using to help pay off more than $600k of student loan debt!

This post contains affiliate/referral links for products or services that I actually use.  If you make a purchase through one of my links, I may get a small percentage of the sale even though the price to you is either discounted or the same.

halloween costume on a budget


  1. You look adorable, especially your little munchkin! For our costumes, I found black graduation gowns at the thrift shop for $1 each for Hubby and me. I shredded the edges of mine for my witch’s gown to go with my black pointed hat Hubby left his as is for Dracula. We plan to go trick or treating with our 7-year-old granddaughter. You are never too old to have fun!

    1. Brilliant!! I love that you were able to re-purpose both gowns for different costumes! And that is one lucky 7-year-old. Hope you all had a blast! 🙂

    1. Thank you Sarah– I agree! And I am loving your blog, we will be following your journey as well! 🙂

  2. This is flipping adorable! One of ours used the dress up box this year. Next year my mom wants us to use our family Donald and Daisy Duck costumes from the 80s. I’m still not sure if I’m frugal enough to take her up on it.

  3. You Halloween costumes are adorable!! I just found your blog and I’m so glad I did. We are in the exact same boat due to graduate school debt and medical school debt. Our debt is in the 500k range but since hubby is in residency, it’s accruing about 2k in interest a month – wooooo – so your story is great. We have a lot in common. Can’t wait to go back in the archives and read more.

    1. Thank you and welcome Cat! I am looking forward to reading through what you have to say about work/mom life balance– I have thought it was tough with one but twins is a whole other ball game.
      And isn’t interest awful?? Ahh. Hope residency is good to you all!

  4. Those are great costumes. This year we were able to pick up my son a costume from a consignment store for $5. He’s only one and we decided he would be a turtle. The funny this is that we didn’t realize it was actually dog costume until we got home. Oh well it fit him perfectly 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *