Save on costumes and gifts as the holidays approach

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- It’s time to think about Halloween costumes, especially if you have kids.

If you don't want to end up with a monster bill for outfits, there are ways to save some big bucks.  First thing to realize is that shopping for kids can be a never-ending process because they grow fast and can outgrow their clothes just as quickly!

"I'm always looking for a good deal, especially because I have a large family.  We have a full house.  We have five children all together, and it will soon be six," said Mary Mcallister, clothes buyer and consignor.

Mary buys and consigns at "Indy Kids Sale" a few times every year.  The sale that's happening now is their fall sale, with tens of thousands of items.

"We've got fall and winter clothing.  We have coats, Halloween costumes, anything you need for the fall and winter season and then all your traditional things like toys, strollers, pack and plays--everything you need from a baby to a teen," said Lori Chandler with Indy Kids Sale.

If you're interested, this sale for one-stop shopping is at the Hamilton County Fairgrounds now through Saturday, Sept. 16. People who shop the consignment sales say their first tip to saving is rarely buying new clothes.

"I can buy the kids a variety of stuff.  They wear the outfits for a season and then I consign them the next year.  So, in essence, I sell and I buy and it just kind of breaks even that way," said Mcallister.

Right now, there's a good chance you're thinking about what to buy for Halloween for the kids to wear.  First, check what you already have and can make from home.  Remember: you don't have to spin your wheels thinking of getting perfect costume.  Instead, think multi-use.  It can save money and time.

"When you're getting Halloween costumes, for example this Star Wars one, it's great for Halloween but kids love to use it year round.  It's the same for princess dresses. They love to use it year round for dress up any day," said Chandler,

Consignment sales in central Indiana are getting big, so the competition to get your business can be tough.  That's good for consumers as it means a place won't stay in business long if they sell sub-standard merchandise.

"We have several examples of a brand-new costumes for kids.  Sometimes people who've bought stuff retail don't even use the items!  They just bring it in to us to sell.  Everything is inspected so it's great quality.  What you're getting is a huge discount of 50% to 90% off retail," said Chandler.

As long as you're getting a jump start on the holidays, think about buying for Christmas and think unique, like the gift of music.  Kids outgrow musical instruments just like clothes, so you can often find gently used instruments at low prices. At Indy Kids Sale in Hamilton County, they have a keyboard for $15, a drum set for kids at $60 and a nice little guitar for $20.

The final tip to save money for Halloween and Christmas is to have a final plan and shop ahead of the season.

"A lot of people actually do come to our event with a list and they think of what they need for Christmas, birthdays, and six months down the road.  That way they can save a lot of money and get what they need for the next half year," said Chandler.

That applies not just to consignment sales.  You'll find buying Christmas gifts after Christmas for the next year, can save 50% off retail at many stores.  The trick is getting motivated to plan ahead and shop in advance.