Childhood money lessons can begin with “Money or candy?” “
Americans have a complicated relationship with money, in large part due to what we learned (or didn’t learn) as children.
In most households, money is just as taboo as sex, which is why more than half of Americans said in a recent study that no one either taught them about money or that they had learned to manage their finances on their own.
Parents or guardians were the main source of information for children lucky enough to receive a basic education.
No matter how old your kids or grandchildren are, there’s no better time to give your family – and your entire neighborhood – a little money lesson, because it’s Halloween and the talk. about money circulate freely among young people when their question “Trick or Treat?” is greeted with your response “Cash or Candy?” “
This is what I have been doing every year at home since 2016, blossoming into a fun, fabulous, and favorite personal tradition that teaches money, decision making and more.
I change my system every year to keep it interesting for me and the kids.
But whether you use my system or yours, come up with something that makes kids think of candy for what it really is to them, a valuable product. The fun flows freely from there.
Start by defining a baseline; visiting me in costume “wins” three fun-sized pieces of candy, totaling about 37.5 cents.
Children in grade three can play my version of “Let’s Make a Deal”, substituting something else for the candy.
In 2016, it was a simple choice: take the candy or an envelope of coins with at least a quarter in it and a “jackpot” of $ 5.
As the only house in the neighborhood to distribute cash, it was no surprise that 50 children took the cash; two others would have done it, but the envelopes were gone. Only four children chose candy.
In 2017, kids could choose an envelope that contained at least 25 cents and up to $ 3, or could redeem a candy they collected to choose from envelopes that contained 50 cents up to five dollars.
The 48 children who took the money got fat; four children wanted candy.
In 2018, the exchange of a candy resulted in an envelope of at least 50 cents up to a maximum of $ 4 [half of these “small-money envelopes” held the 50-cent minimum], while trading three candies, won an envelope in a basket where half of the pouches contained $ 1-10, but the other half had no money at all.
The total amount of money involved in large envelopes was only 50 cents more for small envelopes; if all the wraps had been played, the kids would pick roughly the same average result no matter how much candy they gave me.
A total of 43 kids played for big bucks – 23 came home empty handed – 22 more chose the safest choice and 10 stayed with candy.
In 2019 I added a lottery element, the additional option of redeeming six candy to play for a $ 20 jackpot, but every envelope except the winner and a $ 10 second prize, was empty.
Thirteen children went to the lottery and a boy named Liam won the jackpot. He will never forget Halloween when he won $ 20.
About 40 distributed equally over the other options; Ironically, kids who wanted a guaranteed win but a smaller potential jackpot ended up winning more than kids who played for something bigger, as around half of those players didn’t win anything.
COVID-19 has changed things in 2020, with options being a 3-piece candy gift bag, a $ 1 gift card to the neighborhood ice cream shop, a pool of envelopes containing between a quarter and five dollars and lottery option.
The envelopes always include an explanation of the choices and the probabilities; I ask the children not to watch until they are home and to discuss the results with the parents, asking them what mom or dad could have done.
There are lessons about risk and reward, about choices and the value of money.
Last year the kids made me about $ 55 in total, just over $ 1.25 per kid who chose cash over candy. Giving the ice cream certificate – thus increasing my cost for each taker by 37.5 cents of dollar candy – was worth it, if only to support a local business.
Another advantage: it limits my exposure to candy, a personal weakness.
It’s worth that money just to hear young people talk about money (and sometimes their parents). Plus, I’m the guy in the house who no longer has small children playing in the yard or heading to the bus stop; you can’t be afraid of the old man in the neighborhood if he gives you money on halloween.