Cue the “Twilight Zone” music — Halloween is sneaking up on us and you’d better be prepared. If you’re not careful, the cost of your Halloween candy alone will give you goose bumps. Follow these dos and don’ts for buying candy as you prepare for the 31st and your wallet will stay safe this October.
You should definitely …
* Combine manufacturer coupons with sale prices and store coupons. Companies are releasing candy coupons nearly weekly. Clip those coupons and combine them with any great sale or clearance prices. A common price point for many shoppers is $1.50 per bag.
Walgreens, CVS and Target often have store coupons for candy that can be combined with manufacturer coupons, so don’t forget to look for those as well. Also factor in any register rewards or gift cards that can be earned with purchases.
* Check out the selection at the dollar store. Family Dollar, Dollar General and Dollar Tree all carry name-brand products and accept coupons. You could hit the jackpot.
* Visit online retailers to price compare. Amazon and Oriental Trading Post both have specials throughout the year on candy and holiday-themed products. These are especially sweet deals if you can get free shipping.
* Buy candy that lasts. Milk chocolate has a shorter shelf life than dark chocolate and hard candies. If you’re concerned about having leftovers, invest in the latter and use the extras over Christmas and Valentine’s Day. Some products, such as caramels and chocolate-covered candies, can even go in the freezer.
* Wait until the last minute. Yes, I’m advising you to procrastinate. It’s always tempting to grab a few bags of candy when they hit the shelves, but the closer you get to the actual day, the cheaper it will be. Start stocking up the day after Halloween for future holidays or general treats.
You should definitely not …
* Only shop in the holiday-themed aisles. Go back to the regular candy aisle and compare prices. Sometimes companies price special holiday products higher, even if the only difference is the packaging. Kids won’t care that their candy is wrapped in orange and black.
* Buy your favorite candy. If you’re a chocoholic with little self-control, buy other sweets that won’t tempt you before the holiday. Otherwise, you may have to stock up twice.
* Assume Sam’s Club has the best price. Buying goods in bulk can lead to big savings, but sometimes the prices aren’t as low as at retailers that are having a sale and accept coupons. If you have time, visit the store to compare prices before you buy.
* Let the kids dig in. Hand out the goods yourself instead of extending the candy bowl to visiting trick-or-treaters. Try to be consistent with each child, a couple of pieces of candy per person, so you don’t run out too early or have to buy extra bags.
* Be concerned about being the coolest house on the block. For kids, part of the thrill of trick-or-treating is the hunt. Kids won’t know you picked up the cheapest bag of candy on the shelf, and passing out full-size candy bars will only give you a few seconds of fame. Stick with a candy within your price range and don’t stress; gum and lollipops are often the cheapest varieties.
* Forget there are other options. If you don’t want to hand out candy, consider handing out mini bags of popcorn or pretzels (prepackaged). Some readers mentioned handing out spider rings, nuts and colorful pencils.
Macaroni Kid Roanoke will be hosting its 2nd Annual Costume Swap on Oct. 14 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. At this totally free event, you have the opportunity to pick out a gently used costume for your child.
In order to participate, drop off your own gently used kids’ costumes today through Oct. 9 at the LFA Consignment Sale, 3419 Orange Ave. N.E., Roanoke. Upon turning in a costume, you’ll receive a swap ticket to attend the event on Oct. 14.
Drop-off hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. today, 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday, 9 a.m. to noon Monday and 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday.
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.