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How To Live On $0 A Day: Rediscover the Childlike Joy of Halloween (Get Free Stuff)

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Last year at this time you were probably at the seamstress putting the final touches on your Marie Antoinette/Sarah Palin/Henry VIII/Joe the Plumber costume. Unless you're a Wall Street or Insurance executive or one of their lobbyists, you may be feeling some trepidation as to how to deal with the holiday this year.

Halloween traditionally marks the end of the harvest season when people begin storing necessities for the long, lean months ahead. Which is exactly the way you should be looking at it now. Lucky for you, opportunity is everywhere.

Tricks, yaaaay!

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Stop worrying about how you're going to afford candy for the trick-or-treaters. Those Halloween tricksters you fear can be a godsend. Think about it; a good house TPing requires at least one roll of toilet paper. Once you get it back on the roll it'll come in handy and save you money. Play your cards right and you won't need to buy another roll of toilet paper until 2010. Who knows, you might even get hit with quilted toilet paper in decorator colors if you live in an upscale neighborhood.

Even better, your tricksters could be armed with eggs, which would be a delicious change of pace from your usual breakfast of nothing. Save yourself some extra work and stop the culprits before they strike (unless you like your eggs scrambled).

Seize the day (and anything else you can get)

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This is the one time of year where you can don a scary robber mask and freely enter a Brinks armored truck, local merchant or lavish mansion and nobody will think anything of it, even if you're carrying a large bag. Be forceful when demanding your treats. Warning: Don't try this in a bank. My local branch brutally informed me that they arrest anyone who enters wearing a mask (even a Hank Paulson mask!). Typically, they make no exceptions, even during this festive time of year.

Getting treats in goods and unmarked bills
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These days, parents are afraid of sending their children to strangers' homes. Many communities have made arrangements with local merchants so the kids can trick or treat at stores safely. Take advantage of this opportunity. Tell your child to ask for staples like a jar of peanut butter, tampons, flour, shampoo, etc. Better yet, have them ask for the contents of the cash register. How could anyone refuse your adorable little angel? This is also an excellent opportunity to teach your child manners: remind them to always say "please" and "thank you."

Free candy
Even if you're over 4 feet tall, and not wearing a costume, opportunities for free candy are everywhere. At the bank, the stores, the hair salon, the library, in lobbies. Grab it while it's there or you'll regret it later, I guarantee it. If you have children, give them laundry bags or trash bags and don't let them come home until the bags are full. Since you may be depending on your Halloween treats for nourishment, it's important to optimize your Halloween harvest's nutritional value by consulting the chart below.

Halloween candy food pyramid

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Always go for the candy with the greatest number of food groups in it. For example, a Chunky bar is preferable to a Hershey bar with almonds, because it contains three food groups, dairy (milk chocolate), protein (nuts), fruit (raisins) while the Hershey bar only has two (dairy and protein). Mix a Chunky bar with a Nestle Crunch bar (containing rice) and you've got a complete, well-balanced meal. Anything with coconut is also a good bet since it qualifies as both a fruit AND a nut.

Treats with financial value
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Just because a candy has no nutritional value, doesn't mean it's worthless. On the contrary, Skittles, Red Hots, Hot Tamales, Sweet Tarts, Mike and Ikes, m&ms and Pixie Stix are known moneymakers. With a little clever marketing, you can resell them at a huge profit as drugs to stupid rich people. For example, sell the Pixie Stix as pre-chopped cocaine in designer colors that come with their own straw. The beauty of this approach is you get all the income of a drug dealer or pharmaceutical executive, without the guilt of actually selling drugs (although the high fructose corn syrup may be more dangerous than drugs). Do not try this on hardened drug addicts. They might hurt you.

The morning after

Pumpkins are both delicious and nutritious and using them for merely decorative purposes is a crime. You'll be performing a valuable service by picking up all the spent pumpkins in your neighborhood and disposing of them ... in your mouth. Here are some recipes, including how to stuff a pumpkin for Thanksgiving.

Now go out there and have a happy, bountiful Halloween!