Halloween is creeping up right around the corner. For many parents, the actual holiday can be quite frightening. Think about it. Dressing your kids up in costumes and taking them house to house asking for the one thing you don’t want them to have too much of: Candy! Yet, you have to admit, the laughs and joy it brings to your children makes it all worth it in the end.
While most parents worry about the health aspects of eating too much candy–mainly cavities and permanent “baby fat”–they often ignore the wonderful opportunity to squeeze in some sneaky parental advice. I mean, let’s face it, to children, candy is as good as gold. So why not take this chance to teach them some important money lessons that can help them down the road, and more importantly, help your wallet now?
1. Pace Yourself
If you’ve ever gone trick-or-treating, whether with your kids or as a kid (or even as an adult?), you know the best part of it is the payoff. Going home, dumping all the candy in a pile and digging in is what it’s all about.
Yet, after a while you’ll notice that all the candy starts to taste the same and when it’s over you’re left candyless and with an upset tummy full of guilt and sadness. Well kids, it’s the same with money. Like candy, you’ll enjoy it more if you spread it out and use it in smaller portions.
Careless spending of large amounts of money leaves you living paycheck-to-paycheck. If your kids aren’t careful, they could end up living Halloween-to-Halloween, and nobody wants that.
2. Save Up For the Good Stuff
Another favorite tradition is trading candy. Comparing your bounty with that of your fellow pirates lets you barter with sweets you don’t like for the treasures you do like. For example, maybe you’re not a fan of candy corn, but you know that if you save up three packs and trade them to your friend, the vampire, you could exchange it for a Snickers bar.
While candy valuations may vary, the concept is the same. Save up the candy corn for the chocolate bar. Save up your money for, well, the adult equivalent of a candy bar–a house, an education, and so forth.
3. Work Harder to Get More
While most children probably don’t consider trick-or-treating to be work, it does teach them the basic idea that the more you get done, the more you are rewarded. Kids know they want candy, so they’ll usually push parents to visit more houses.
If only you could translate that work ethic over to other aspects of life, right? Well, it’s not that difficult to teach if you just simplify it.
4. AHHHH! Taxes!
Fortunately for your kids, this lesson won’t cost them anything. Unfortunately for you, it probably will. Halloween isn’t just about taking candy from other people, you also have to be willing to give them out as well. Much like in a normal society, you have to pay back some of the money you earn for the good of the public. Of course, like any government, you always have the option of passing your costs onto the masses. Take a 10 percent candy “tax” from your little superheroes if you really want to hammer this lesson home.
5. Set Up an Emergency Stash
For some reason, kids love to hide things. Whether it’s a lucky coin or a favorite toy, having a secret spot only they know about makes them feel special. What do you do? Use this to your advantage. Teach your kids the importance of saving for an emergency fund by using their love for candy and hiding places.
That isn’t to say they should tuck little pieces of candy all over the house. What they want to do is keep a small portion of their favorite candy in a spot they won’t touch unless they need it, like when they get grounded or your pantry has run out of sweets.
Halloween is a great time for fun and games with your children. It’s a holiday that allows you to bond as a family. Don’t be a killjoy and get too carried away with your lessons, but don’t let the opportunity go to waste either. If done right, you can make these memorable experiences a real treat for the rest of their lives.
Guest post by Henry Truc who writes for www.GoBankingRates.com.