Use Halloween to Teach Kids Money Lessons

How can one thing mean two totally different things to different people? Take Halloween treats for example. Kids are delighted by it. Parents, not so much. Candies filled with high fructose corn syrup and food coloring, and kids that are hyper-active with so much sugar intake that they literally bounce off the walls. It’s every parent’s nightmare and the perfect scary ending to the Halloween holiday! But here’s a trick that will sound more like a treat – this unsavory situation can easily be turned into a money lesson for kids!

Let me explain.

The day before Halloween, you make a deal with the kids. When they return back from trick or treating, you will buy their candies from them for real money. From the day after Halloween they can buy the candies back from you. For every day past Halloween, the price of candies falls by 5%. Each day, they can spend only a preset amount of money on buying back candies. Knowing kids, they will want to eat the choicest candies in the first few days and in the later days as the number of candies they can have for the preset amount increases, the candies are no longer their favorites and so may choose to keep the money instead of throwing it away on candies they don’t like. They learn a few important money lessons while at the same time eating fewer candies. It’s a win-win situation.

Here is an example.

Say your daughter has collected 110 pieces of candy. You set the price of each piece of candy to say, a quarter. So if you can convince her to sell you 100 pieces of candy, then she will earn $25. Each day she is allowed to spend $2 of that money to buy back the candies. Each day the price of candies falls by 5%. Say you round up the number of candies she gets. Then for two days after Halloween, she will be able to buy 9 pieces of candy for $2. For two days after that, she will be able to purchase 10 pieces of candy for $2. And so on, until the candies run out on day 10. So, she gets to have all her candy back over a period of 9 days for $18. That leaves her with $7 to keep. Pretty good deal. Here is a table that I generated using excel to explain it better. You can do something similar with the exact numbers that work for your family and print it out so your children can easily understand the concept and keep track of it every day.

DayPrice per candy# of candies for $2Actual candies boughtMoney in Hand
On Halloween0.25$25

The beauty of it is, you can tweak it indefinitely to suit your family’s needs. For instance, if you want to teach the concept of interest, then instead of discounting the cost of candies by 5% you can let them charge you interest of 5% and let them earn more for their money. The math works out to be the same as above.

Or, you can match what they save at the end dollar for dollar, and that way entice them to give away some of the candies they don’t like. So, if they only buy back candies worth $1 a day for 10 days and have $15 left over they get to keep $30. It’s a very nice way to have them eat less candy.

Or, you can vary the price of the candies based on the calorie count. So the higher the calories, the lesser the price drops and so it will be less lucrative for them to buy back high calorie candies compared to healthier ones.

Depending on your child’s temperament you can make any number of changes. As long as you make it a fun game and not a math exercise, kids are bound to love it since they get to eat their candy and make some money too. All of it while learning the valuable lessons of delayed gratification! Small lessons like this can go a long way in protecting them in the future where credit comes easy and temptations are strong!

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snow_drops said...

This is a great idea. I don't have kids yet, but I will store this for future use. Thanks!

Michel said...

I love this idea!! I'm definately adding it to my repertoire of things to do once I have children (which, if my mother had her way, would be last week).

Michel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Staci Carsten said...

That's a great idea for older kids, but for younger ones like mine, you just have to let them eat it the first night and then after they go to bed, throw away half of what's left and hope they don't notice! ;)

My oldest is six now, so my days of being able to get away with that are limited, if not over (we'll see how it goes this year). He does like money now too, so maybe I'll switch to your strategy next year.

Jenn @ Frugal Upstate said...

I just wanted to say that Buddy-age 4, made me scroll back up just so he could look at the picture for a while. He loved all the candy :)

Hey, totally of topic, but why do you have a West Point ring on your title bar?

ispf said...

Jenn: It's not a West Point ring! It's my school ring! I don't believe in spending a fortune on jewelery (even if it is a sentimental graduation ring), so I never bought one. When I found the picture on the web, thought it would be cool to put it up there in the header. I am not telling which school though, but it should be fairly easy to guess :)

SuperDewa said...

I like the idea.

My neighbor is a dental hygienist and has always bought back her children's (now in college) hard candy, because that was worse for their teeth. I was contemplating doing the same thing this year, but now I might combine it with something like this.

Sam said...

Or you could just let kids be kids and have a night that is about having fun.