Six Ways to Illustrate Smart Money Management with Halloween Candy
Costumes are being crafted, scary movies are playing on TV, and the smell of sugar is in the air—Halloween is almost here! And Jimmy Kimmel’s YouTube Challenge, “I Told My Kids I Ate All Their Halloween Candy,” isn’t far behind.
While the jury’s still out on whether these parental pranks are funny or scarring the children, there are two things they teach us: candy is an extremely valuable currency for kids, and we can learn a lot about their personalities based on their reaction to, and relationship with candy. So if you’re a parent, relative, or guardian looking to instill good financial habits early, Halloween can actually be a great conversation starter.
Here’s six ways you can use Halloween candy to learn more about your kids and introduce smart money management.
Determine work ethic and motivation.
Candy doesn’t grow on trees and neither does money. You have to work to earn it. And while trick-or-treating probably doesn’t feel like work for your kids, it’s a great illustration of how effort plays into pay-off.
As you map out your Halloween route, you can discuss how the number of houses you visit impacts the amount of candy you get. Your kids’ willingness to ring numerous doorbells or visit new neighborhoods could provide insight into whether or not they have the drive to work for what they want—results may vary based on how strong of a motivator candy is.
Are they a saver or a spender?
Do your kids ration their candy, or consume it all before they make it back home? If candy burns a hole in their Halloween bucket, money might burn a hole in their pocket.
Taking the time to notice the rate in which candy is consumed can lead to a conversation about the importance of saving. If your kids eat all their candy in one sitting, they might not get sweets until dessert at Thanksgiving; just like if you spend your whole paycheck the day you receive it, you might end up living off ramen noodles.
Do they budget or binge?
Building on the topic of saving versus spending, you can use candy to introduce budgeting skills. Simply ask your kids how long they’d like their candy to last, and then determine the maximum pieces of candy they can eat per day to make this happen.
If they over eat one day, you can talk about where they need to cut back to make up for that. And if they under consume, you’ll have the opportunity to discuss whether they want to reward themselves with a small splurge or save for a future date when they’re craving a little sugar.
How are their negotiation skills?
Most people—including our kids—have a favorite candy. Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee that at the end of the night their buckets will be overflowing with it. That’s where trading and negotiation come into play.
Whether it’s with a sibling or a friend, candy trading time can provide you with some—probably comical—insight into how your child’s mind works. Are they able to persuade others to swap one piece for two? Are they able to sniff out a good deal, and turn down the ones that aren’t? Are they passive and reluctant to say no, even if the deal isn’t in their favor? Paying attention to and answering questions like this, can help you evaluate where your child’s strengths are and where you need to fill in the gaps.
Do they understand the concept of tax?
While your kids might not appreciate this one, you could “tax” their candy pile and take a percentage off the top. But let’s be real—this would probably upset them. So it might be better to just set some aside as a visual and not actually take it!
Either way, the important thing is that they understand tax now to alleviate potential confusion and shock when they receive their first adult paycheck.
Are they generous with their resources?
Most of us have been there—you went trick-or-treating with a group and somehow ended up with the least amount of candy. Or you’ve reached the age where it’s no longer considered cute if you to go door-to-door asking for candy. In those situations, we all want people to share their stash with us. The question is whether or not they will.
How do your kids respond in these situations? Do they give willingly, or hoard it all for themselves? While we’re not required to share everything all the time, there is value in being able to identify a need and donate resources when we’re able.
With all that being said, we understand Halloween is an exciting night for kids who are distracted by the shimmer of candy wrappers—and you might not want to tread on that with a firm lesson in finances.
So have a great night with your kids and keep money talk fun. Or simply enjoy the time to make memories and see how much they know on their own.