Halloween candy comes in in a rush—your kid may collect as many as hundreds of candies in a single night. In addition to preventing sugar highs (and sugar crashes), you can use all this candy currency to have an important conversation about budgeting, savings, and the benefits of patience.
After your child goes trick or treating she’ll have plenty of loot—probably much more than she should or could eat in a night. Rather than making a blanket ruling that she can’t eat more than a set amount of candy in a night, set up a system where waiting actually has a reward and talk it through. Being told she can’t eat candy will probably create an upset, but being told why saving her candy will benefit her in the long run might actually be exciting. Here are some suggestions:
1. When it comes to Halloween candy, a Butterfingers isn’t just a Butterfingers. Since everybody’s flush with candy this time of year, she can use candies she likes less to trade for her favorites. Talk about making wise money choices according to our own values—there’s no point to holding onto candy she won’t eat if she could get something good in exchange. Try the Trick or Treat Trade Quest.
2. She probably understands that Halloween happens once a year, and that Halloween is the holiday for sweets and treats. In life, there are usually limited opportunities to make money, and some are bigger than others: an inheritance or another kind of windfall, a bonus check at the end of the year. Talk about how if she eats it all in one night, she won’t have the opportunity to collect this much candy for an entire year. For a kid, these kinds of opportunities don’t come up very frequently, so if you frame the discussion around taking advantage of this “sweet” opportunity, she’s likely to pay attention
3. Make candy resources last. Left to their own devices, little fingers will make their way into a candy stash very quickly. Halloween candy can last well into the year—with some planning. Set up a system to keep candy eating—an analogy for spending—under control. Explain that by rationing a set amount of candy over time, she’ll be able to have Halloween candy throughout a longer period of the year. A calendar can be a useful visual tool: if she eats one candy a day, her supply will last one month; if she eats three candies a week, it will last more than twice that. We created the Candy Money, Honey! Quest, to help with all this planning.
4. Set up a system of rewards for saving the candy. In the now infamous Marshmallow Test, kids were offered a marshmallow and told they would get an extra treat if they could put off eating it for 15 minutes. Many follow-up studies have shown that most kids can wait a short period of time for a reward, and that trusting that their benefactor will follow through with the promise is important. Make sure that you and your child are on the same page and set up a reward system. Something small but not sugary, like a sticker on a progress wall, should do the trick.
Halloween candy currency: it’s valuable; it can be exchanged; and it can be “earned.” Armed with this currency, Halloween is a great time of year to tackle sometimes hard-to-grasp financial lessons, and practice important skills like patience and planning. Turn what might otherwise be one of the least healthy days of the year into an opportunity to foster financial literacy in your kids. In fact, we’ve created simple, downloadable Quests to make these conversations both more fun and more memorable!
If you try our Quests, let us know how they go by contacting us or sharing a comment here.