It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Leaves on the ground, a chill in the air, far too much pumpkin spice everything around… it’s Fall. That means Halloween (and snow for roughly 176 straight months) is right around the corner. 

Whether you go all out for the holiday, planning multiple costumes for each party you attend, or grab something off the shelf last minute to trick or treat with your kiddos, Halloween shopping should be fun, not horrifying. 

This year alone, the National Retail Federation estimates consumers will spend nearly $8.8 billion on Halloween. American consumers will spend nearly $90 per person on décor and costumes. The NRF also says that 69 percent of Halloween revelers will pass out candy, 49 percent will deck their homes with halls of horror, 47 percent will dress to kill (or spook or amuse), and 29 percent will take their little ghouls and goblins trick-or-treating. Pet people, 17 percent of you will wrangle your pet into a ridiculously cute costume. 

With pop-up shops inhabiting nearly every empty strip mall and the pressure to quickly find the perfect costume, candy and décor, it can be tricky to find just what you need and none of the tricks.

Your Halloween superheroes from the Better Business Bureau Northwest + Pacific offer the following tips to avoid getting spooked (and hopefully get all the full-size candy bars) this year. 

Raid the Dress Up Box, the Laundry Bin… Search Your Own Home First .Before you head out to your nearest Halloween store, check what items you have in your home. You may find an old costume you can re-purpose, or Halloween decorations you resurrect from the dead. This not only helps you save money, but you won’t end up with more than you need.

Rent it instead! Some people don’t like the idea of spending a lot of money on a costume that will only be worn once, which is why they look to renting. And if that Superman costume you donned in college is any indication, some things aren’t meant to stand the test of time. While renting a costume leaves more room in your budget, know that the costume you may be getting may not be in great shape. If you opt for renting a costume this year, check out the condition of the costume first. Make 

sure you try it on and note any defects with the owner. Read over the rental agreement carefully and make sure you make note of the rental period. After all, if you worked hard to get back in Superman shape, the last thing you need is a rental costume ruining your return. 

Shop the sales like a real boss. You need not dress like a coupon queen to save like one. Compare prices on Halloween costumes and decorations from various retail or online stores. Along with comparing prices, look for coupons and sign up for email alerts. This will help you get the best deals, saving you a nice chunk of change.

Return Policy? You better know what it is. Whether you are shopping in a store or online, always make sure you are clear on the store’s return policy before you buy. Find out how long you must keep your receipt, or what happens if you lose your receipt. Nothing worse than realizing you can’t actually return that Superman costume you optimistically bought but still can’t fit (or that it won’t fit over a snowsuit, because Montana). Remember: Buying a bunch of stuff with the intent of simply returning it after October 31st is considered fraud.

Shop smart online. When shopping from an online website, the first step is to make sure the URL starts with “https” and includes a lock symbol. The S in “https” stands for secure.

Look up the website’s privacy policy and contact information. If it is not clearly listed, or they only have an email as the point of contact, take that as a big red flag and shop elsewhere.

Also, be sure to use your credit card instead of your debit card, as credit cards not only provide additional protection, but it’s also easier to dispute a fraudulent charge.

Seasonal stores. If you decide to shop from a seasonal store, ask whether or not they will be open after the holiday, how long they plan to stay open, and if they will accept returns after Halloween is over. If they plan to close up shop November 1st, or refuse returns after, either consider shopping elsewhere, or take more time to be sure that item is exactly what you want before making the purchase. 

While the list may seem frighteningly long, read it over twice and you’ll be rewarded with nothing but treats this Halloween.

 Hannah Stiff is the Montana Marketplace Manager for BBB Northwest + Pacific. She can be reached at Hannah.stiff@thebbb.org.