Halloween doesn’t have to just be about dressing up and eating candy. It can be educational too! Don’t let your kids immediately gorge themselves on the sweets they collect tonight. Instead, use the treats as a tool to teach some valuable money lessons. Teaching proper money management early on is the best way to help children avoid credit card debt problems later in life.
Money Lessons with Candy Currency
If left to their own devices, kids will likely devour their candy pretty fast. If you’d like to slow them down and take advantage of a unique teaching opportunity, consider becoming a “candy banker” for the next couple weeks by commandeering the sweets.
This is tough because kids often feel that they “earned” the candy fair and square. Still, delayed gratification is an important lesson in savings all by itself. You can either just put your foot down and claim the candy or buy it from them with spare change. There are benefits to each depending on what money lessons you’d like to teach.
Option 1: The Candy Salary
If you decide to take candy from your kids in order to control the flow of sugar, try using it as a form of payment. You can make bigger or smaller payouts for certain tasks. Certain chores can earn a piece or two. Finishing homework or getting good grades might be worth extra. If they eat all their vegetables, then dessert gets a little better. This teaches them to value their time and that hard work gets rewarded.
To take the lesson to the next level, you can let them have some candy on credit. If they want something to munch on during a movie, they get some extra packs of M&M’s, but they will have to “pay” for goodies later. You might even let them over borrow to teach them a valuable debt management lesson even though the only consequence is extra chores.
Option 2: The Candy Buyback
After your kids have come home and looked over their haul, buy the whole batch off of them with spare change or imaginary funds. Sit with your child and assign values to the different types of candy. Then help them determine a budget that will allow them to buy an appropriate amount of candy at a reasonable pace. You can have “sales” on one type of candy to teach them how to shop smarter.
Alternately, you can encourage kids to use the money for more important things than candy. This is a good way to teach them about needs vs. wants as well as how to save patiently for larger purchases. Plus, there’s the added bonus that they won’t eat so much junk!
Many cities and towns organize community-wide candy buybacks. At these events, treats can be exchanged for cash, prizes, coupons, or services from local businesses. Exchanged candy is often sent to soldiers serving overseas. Try searching for a buyback near you at HalloweenCandyBuyback.com or check in your local paper and on Facebook for events in your town.
Swapping candy for financial counseling will not thrill young people at all, but they’ll benefit from the concepts for years.
More Money Lessons
If you want more ideas for teaching kids about personal finance, check out these Youth & Money Resources from ACCC. There are plenty of ideas for teaching kids of varying ages about handling money, using credit, and being financially responsible. Starting early sets your family up for a less stressful future as kids head out on their own.