Budget Halloween Costumes

October 8, 2015

Budget-Halloween-CostumesThe countdown to Halloween has begun. Soon ghosts and ghouls will be roaming the streets, asking the age old question: “Trick or treat?” In the buzz of costume hunting, candy collecting and visiting haunted houses, it’s easy to lose track of your budget. However, Halloween is a great opportunity for DIY which can add up to huge savings. Instead of spending big bucks on a store made costume for your children, check out some of these wallet-friendly, classic ideas:

  • With the zombie craze still going strong, this is a popular choice with lots of creative options. Either go to the thrift store or raid your child’s closet for items that are no longer worn or have been outgrown, then have fun destroying them! Cut holes, roll in the mud and add fake blood (try mixing corn syrup, red food coloring and cocoa powder) to “zombify” the outfit. Put some dark eye shadow under your child’s eyes and have fun practicing their zombie walk.
  • Secret Agent Spy. Stop by the thrift store for a black jacket and pants for your child. To complete the outfit, get some fun accessories such as a pair of dark sunglasses or briefcase. Build up your child’s spy arsenal with an old watch to act a secret communication device.
  • Stick Man. This costume requires a white shirt and pants, black duct or electrical tape, a paper plate and some string. Use the tape to create a line down the front of the shirt to create the body, and lines for the arms and legs. Draw a simple smiley face on the paper plate, cut out eye holes, and use the string to hold it in place.

If instead of the classics your trick-or-treater is looking for something more “of the moment,” there are plenty of options to recreate outfits without having to go over budget. Here are a few ideas:

  • Joy from Inside Out. With Inside Out coming out to DVD soon, Joy is a great emotion to feel and emulate in costume. Check thrift stores for a yellow dress and spruce it up with some blue glitter paint. Pick up a can of blue hair spray from the dollar store or party store and your child will jump with joy at the great costume.
  • Charlie Brown. The Peanuts Movie is due out later this year which means Charlie Brown has begun to make a comeback. All that is needed for this costume is a yellow t-shirt or polo, black pants and black duct (or electrical) tape. Use the tape to create the zig-zag pattern along the bottom of the shirt. To really spruce up this costume, use a washable black marker to draw the curly hair on your Charlie’s forehead and have your child carry a white stuffed animal dog to be faithful Snoopy.
  • Minion from Minions Movie. If your child has a yellow shirt and blue jeans, you already have half the costume ready. You can add suspenders, black gloves or a yellow stocking cap to help complete the outfit. Swing by the dollar store for safety glasses and hot glue the rims of two mason jar lids for minion goggles and your minion is ready to go!

No matter what your kids decide to be on Halloween, a little creativity will go a long way in helping keep costs low. Most thrift stores carry discounted Halloween outfits this time of year and dollar stores are packed with dress up clothes and accessories. If you have a cardboard box and some paint, there are plenty of options! No matter what the costume, the key to a successful Halloween is lots of fun at the end of the night.

Heart of Florida United Way is focused on addressing the five major building blocks of financial stability in order to provide low-income working families the services and support necessary to succeed. For more information visit www.hfuw.org or if you are in need of assistance, call 2-1-1, our 24-hour Information and Assistance helpline.


Top 10 Tips For Thrift Store Shopping

August 17, 2015

Thrift-Shop-1Way before Macklemore’s “Thrift Shop” hit the charts, savvy shoppers knew the value of thrifting.  Everything seems so expensive now, from gas to groceries, so finding discounts when possible is important. For many basic essentials, like clothing or furniture, thrift shops can be a budget-saver.

For those new to thrifting, it can seem overwhelming. Many of the stores are huge and carry everything from holiday trinkets to books and beyond. Wading through the piles of merchandise to find those gems can be tricky, but the feeling of victory when you find a gorgeous piece for pennies on the dollar can’t be beat.

There’s a science to finding great items at thrift stores, so check out our ten tips for making the best of thrifting trips:

  1. Scout out locations: Some stores are picked over and rarely restock. Others are bursting at the seams. Check out thrift stores near higher end neighborhoods; they often have name brand clothing and furniture. It’s not uncommon to find Banana Republic, J. Crew and Theory pieces with the tags still on for just $4.
  2. Put technology to work: While Goodwill and Salvation Army are thrifting treasures, there are other thrift shops around that offer great deals too. Use thethriftshopper.com to find new thrift shops near you, complete with their location, hours and weekly specials.
  3. Get outside your comfort zone: It’s never a good idea to go thrifting with a definitive mindset. Instead of looking for a “purple blouse”, focus on a more general idea like a “work-appropriate blouse.” It helps you keep an open mind as you look for beautiful things in good condition.
  4. Take advantage of the seasons: When seasons change and milestones hit (like back to school), people tend to clean out their closets and homes, which means thrift shops become a bonanza of great items. Shop now to stock up on school clothes, new furniture or seasonal décor.
  5. Figure out your location’s schedule: Most thrift shops accept and process new stock on the weekends, so Monday through Wednesday is when they’ll have the most selection.
  6. Don’t forget sales: Many people don’t realize that thrift shops have sales too. On certain days, all furniture or clothing will be marked down as much as 50% so check with your local shop for their sale schedule. Some shops also offer discounts for college students, seniors or veterans so be sure to ask about available discounts.
  7. Be strategic: Thrift shops tend to have strict rules about how many items you can bring into a dressing room and leaving an item behind may mean it gets scooped up by someone else. Wear form fitting clothes so you can try on sweaters, coats and blazers right over your outfit to skip the dressing room entirely.
  8. Be thorough: Be sure to check the garment all over for stains, tears or holes. Bring a to-go stain remover like Tide to Go Sticks to test if stains can be easily washed out.
  9. Imagine blank slates: Try to see past the initial item. That wardrobe may have plenty of signs of wear, but with a little work it could look modern and new. Paint, new handles or hardware can make that $10 piece of furniture look like an expensive addition to your home. Pinterest can provide great ideas on how to easily (and cheaply!) repurpose thrift store finds.
  10. Make sure you need it: It’s easy to get too excited by the bargains. When you get 10 shirts for $30, it can be tempting to load up the shopping cart. But even at bargain prices, it’s a waste of your hard-earned money if they won’t get used regularly and if you don’t love them. Shop thoughtfully.

Finally, remember to give back to the thrift stores you shop! After closet or home purges, drop off gently used items at your local store so that other people can share in the experience and savings too.

Heart of Florida United Way is focused on addressing the five major building blocks of financial stability in order to provide low-income working families the services and support necessary to succeed. For more information visit www.hfuw.org or if you are in need of assistance, call 2-1-1, our 24-hour information and assistance helpline.

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