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The Coupon Lady: Time to prep for Halloween

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October is one of my favorite months. The weather is finally cooling down some, but not enough to bring out the fall clothing yet.

I also love decorating for this time of year. I might have jumped the gun a bit, but we’ve been working on our front yard’s landscaping for the past few weeks, so I went ahead and put out our fall garden flag and made a new fall/pumpkin wreath for the front door. It looks great along with the new solar lights and patio furniture we added a few weeks ago. Now my husband and I can sit from the front porch and admire the changing season while the kids ride their bikes on the sidewalk.

Of course, my kids have already noticed that the stores are putting out Halloween candy and decorations and want the countdown of how many days until the holiday. I understand their excitement and I love to decorate the house and yard for Halloween.

I’ve noticed some cute items at several bargain shops this year, but I’m mainly going to use decorations from past years. One decorating element that I love to reuse each year is the large hollow Styrofoam pumpkins found at craft stores that I make into a “fake” carved pumpkin. Making a fake pumpkin is simple. First, I use a 40 percent or 50 percent off coupon to purchase the pumpkin. I usually end up paying around $10 after the coupon. If you don’t own a pumpkin carving kit, you will also need to purchase a Pumpkin Master’s Decorating Kit for about $5. Follow the directions just as you would for a real pumpkin, except be mindful of how thin the Styrofoam is. Once you’ve finished, your fake pumpkin won’t rot, has little mess and can be used again. The only downside is that they do take up lots of room to store once the season is over. And you must use an LED light to illuminate them instead of candles.

Now is the time to start gathering candy coupons. October’s All You magazine is filled with candy coupons, and I’ve already started seeing a few on Web sites. Start gathering those as soon as possible so you can take advantage of the drugstore deals that will be going on soon. Even if you only gather two to three bags at a time, it’s still worth it if you get a discount of 50 percent or more on the “good” candy.

Of course, there are other treats this month. Baking season officially starts in October, so you will start seeing coupons for baking items such as chocolate chips, baking soda, flour, pie fillings, candied fruits, nuts and cookie mixes. If you don’t see them in the inserts, then check product Web sites, such as Clabber Girl and Nestle, for coupons.

In the clearance aisles, you should still see markdowns on back-to-school items. Stock up now for later in the school year or even stock up for next year. For moms and dads, this is a great time to pick up a new Thermos or a new lunch box for work. Couponers, this is a great time to start a binder or purchase a spare in case of an emergency.

You will also continue to see the last of the summer items on clearance. Patio furniture is at 50 percent off right now at most stores and should continue to be discounted until inventory is sold out.

Products are also starting to change packaging during this time of year. Look for old packaging/flavors to be marked down to make room for new items. Just be sure to check expiration dates and make sure you have plenty of time to use your item.

National promotions are good times to look for sales on certain items. October’s promotions are National Pizza Month, National Pretzel Month, National Seafood Month, National Pork Month, National Dessert Month and National Cookie Month.

This month look for fresh fall fruits and nuts that include apples, pumpkin, quince, almonds, chestnuts, cranberries, kumquat, lemons and pomegranates. Vegetables include artichokes, Brussels sprouts, cabbages, arugula, beets, chard, broccoli, kale, kohlrabi, parsnips, turnips, sweet potatoes, potatoes, yams, winter squash, spinach and rutabaga.


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