By Lynnette Khalfani-Cox, The Money Coach®
When many parents think of Halloween, their usual thoughts center around costumes, young people trick-or-treating for candy, or keeping the kids safe while they’re out in the neighborhood. However, did you know that you can use Halloween — and especially the days and weeks following — as a great way to teach kids about money matters?
Here are a range of sweet post-Halloween ideas to help make the children you know financially healthy, and better off physically and emotionally too.
The Money Lessons Tied to Buying Back Candy
As most parents know, once that candy’s collected, kids are likely to gobble it all up unless restrictions are set. Instead of worrying about them consuming all those unhealthy sweets, or arguing about how many pieces a child can eat per day, one very valuable strategy some savvy parents use is to “buy” most of the candy from their kids. Explain that by replacing candy with cash value, the child can have money for something longer-lasting down the road. For example, perhaps he or she can use the candy money to buy a small toy or an item they want.
Additionally, it’s not a bad idea for kids to realize how eating all of that candy at once can be bad for them, creating childhood obesity, diabetes, and a sugar-crash when all their energy wears off.Mainly though, when you “purchase” their Halloween candy, you allow kids to experience several financial concepts, starting with the notion of exchange for value; as well as a lesson in delayed gratification — a must in this instant-gratification generation.
Children may or may not have awareness of how much different candy is “worth.” So you can give them a basic lesson on value, by assigning a monetary value to candy (especially your favorite ones). To help them understand the “value” they’re receiving, fork over the money on the spot at a price you set (or that the two of you negotiate and agree upon). Try to keep the exchange rate reasonable — say, 5 to 10 cents per piece — that means 100 pieces of candy can be $5 to $10 toward future savings, or something they want to buy now.
Other Lessons in Bartering and Negotiating with Halloween Candy
Similar to buying back candy, parents can help facilitate what it means to barter and negotiate the value of candy to get what they truly want. For instance, your child may want to eat only Kit Kats, but they only have Starbursts. By finding a “buyer” to trade, they can get what they want. Or, if they really want to get into the entrepreneurial spirit, your children can find a series of candy “buyers”, exchange what one party wants to obtain something valuable that another child wants (and so on). Of course, children will get a crash course in how to negotiate, as value is always a shifting among children who may not be aware of what it costs for a candy bar vs. pieces of bubble gum.
Either way, you may discover that your child is a born entrepreneur, particularly if they bring their candy stash to school or nearby friends in the neighborhood, and experiment with a wider market.
Volunteering After Halloween and Into the Year-End Holidays
Another way for children to learn about becoming fiscally responsible is to spend their time volunteering at a local food bank or soup kitchen that’s serving the less fortunate.While there is a year-round need for assistance, volunteer opportunities increase right after Halloween as we head into Thanksgiving in November, as well as the year-end holidays in December. If you have a volunteer opportunity to your child immediately after Halloween, you could encourage your child to donate his or her candy to other children at a shelter or foster home or homeless center.
Donating allows the child to practice the concept of charitable giving. Giving and selflessly helping others can also show your child the meaning of sacrifice and the importance of compassion to all people, especially those who are suffering with various personal hardships.
As you can see, there are numerous financial lessons you can teach your children in the wake of Halloween. So share these strategies with the kids you know, and it just may be the sweetest thing they get this year!
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