Is Filling Helium Balloons Yourself Cheaper?


frugal balloon tips, frugal party ideas, helium balloonsHelium balloons are a great party decoration that can add a lot of pizzazz to your event. They come in lots of specialty shapes and themes, numbers, letters and of course the traditional round shape in any color you can imagine. If you’ve ever purchased helium balloons for an event, you know the cost of this party favor can add up quickly. After buying the balloons you also have to pay to have them filled with helium so they float fancifully for your guests. Faced with this expense recently for a party I was hosting, I discovered a person can actually buy a helium tank from party supply stores, and even Walmart. But is buying a helium tank really cheaper than having them filled for you?

Let’s compare the cost of paying to have a party supply store fill a helium balloon vs buying a helium tank and filling helium balloons yourself. For this example, I’m comparing the price of the helium only.

Helium Balloons Filled At Store

I checked several stores including party supply stores and even a popular discount dollar store. The price of $1 to fill a common balloon was standard. Filling larger Mylar balloons usually cost more.

If I were to have someone fill 50 nine inch balloons for me, it would cost $50.

Helium Balloons Filled At Home

The best price I found for helium tanks was at Walmart. A tank that would fill 30 nine inch balloons is priced at $20. To fill 50 balloons I would have to buy two tanks.

Filling 50 nine inch balloons myself would cost $40.

What Happens When The Balloons Get Bigger?

At first glance, it would appear that buying my own helium tank and filling the balloons myself would be cheaper. In the example of filling 50 nine inch balloons, buying my own tank is $10 cheaper, AND I likely wouldn’t even use all of the second tank leaving some helium for another event.

But, if I wanted a little bigger balloon, the analysis begins to change. The helium tank from Walmart fills 30 nine inch balloons, but only 20 (approximately) twelve-inch balloons. That means I would need 3 tanks, costing $60. The cost to have a store fill them remains the same, $50, as they charge the same to fill a twelve-inch balloon as a nine-inch balloon. In the case of twelve-inch balloons, having the store fill them is actually cheaper!

How Much is Your Time Worth?

When cost comparing two options, one must always take time and effort into account. If you’ve ever tried blowing up and tying up dozens of balloons, you know this is a mundane and frustrating task. My personal success rate for tying a balloon without breaking it is much lower than 100%. Even if the helium itself is cheaper than having it filled at a store, having someone fill it for you in order to avoid the labor of doing it yourself may be worth the small price difference.

The cost of filling helium balloons can add up quickly, so it’s natural for people to look for ways to save money. Unfortunately, buying your own helium tank and performing the labor-intensive task yourself may not save you much, if anything.

How about you clever friends, have you ever filled your own helium balloons?

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Brock Kernin

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