Halloween is a holiday that many people look forward to every year because they enjoy carving pumpkins, dressing up and watching scary movies. Plus, there are no expectations around giving or receiving gifts, so it’s more low-key than Christmas or Valentine’s Day. We simply think of it as a fun, no-pressure holiday to enjoy with family and friends. As I shared on Monday, it is also a holiday that provides ample money lessons for both kids and adults. Today, I’m going to show you a fun Halloween candy game you can play with your children.
A Candy Buy-Back Game
The premise of the game is simple: when your child is finished trick or treating and their plastic pumpkin is overflowing with candy, you buy ALL the candy for a set price. Let’s say $25. Of course, you can adjust the amount to what is suitable for your budget.
Here Are the Basic Rules:
- They are permitted to select five candies (or whatever amount you choose) for free. They will likely pick their favorite candy, which is fine, but just make sure that they don’t take all of the best candy.
- The money given is to be used to buy back their Halloween candy. They cannot use the money to go to the store and buy new candy or anything else at this time. Doing so, ends the game and they must forfeit all candy and money. I suggest keeping the money in a jar in a common area, like your kitchen, with a piece of paper tucked inside to keep track of the candy purchased.
- You create a candy price list. Full size candy bars might cost $2-3 and favorite snack size candy bars cost a $1, while the less desirable candy is the cheapest. Note: You can also bundle like candy together. For example, 10 tootsie rolls are worth 50 cents, etc. You don’t have to give every individual piece of candy a price, except for the highly covetable candy.
- Every day, they can buy candy from you, as much as they want, although you can still enforce how much candy can get eaten per day
- Now for a bit of a twist, after two days, inform your kids of a rule change, now they have the option to keep the remaining money and allocate it towards their save, spend and share goals versus buying more Halloween candy. They still cannot use the money to buy candy at the store, however. This is a great time to talk about priorities and values.
- On the third day, the candy goes on sale. Perhaps, their favorite candy is now discounted 25% and the less desirable candy is now 50% off.
- Continue this until your child either buys all their candy or decides the remaining candy is not worth their money and elects to put it towards something more important to them.
- This game works best for elementary age kids.
Teaching Important Life Skills to Your Kids
I want Lauren and Taylor to do well in school academically, but equally as important, if not even more important to me, is that they also have good life skills. These are the skills that will truly help them succeed and includes having good emotional competence around money. Being able to instill valuable money skills into your children through game-play is an excellent way for parents to ease into a money conversation, especially if this is new to your family. It’s a bit devious, like sneaking veggies into favorite dishes, but it ultimately helps your kids develop the necessary skill sets to create the life they want, which education alone, will not do in most situations. A good education can help your child earn a generous income, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are equipped to make good decisions with their money.
Kids Learn to Spend Money on What Matters Most
Kids love collecting candy on Halloween, but just like most things in life, not all candy is created equal. Most kids will pay premium prices for their favorite candies, which is another skill they need to learn. Not that paying premium is universally better, because that is not always true, but to understand there are some things that are worth paying a premium for and to know why they are worth more.
Tip: I have many conversations with Lauren and Taylor on this topic when we go shopping. I want them to understand why I pay a premium price on some things and don’t on others. The reasons behind my choices are not arbitrary, which the girls know.
Kids Learn about Delayed Gratification and Being Savvy Consumers
These days a YOLO (you only live once) mindset is pretty common. Thanks to credit cards, most people are in the position to buy whatever they want, whenever they want, regardless of whether it is a smart purchase that aligns with their values and means. By helping your kids experience the benefits of delayed gratification (i.e. saving money when the candy went on sale) is a good lesson and life skill for them to learn.
There are some things we want but not enough to pay full price and are willing to wait for it to go on sale, even if it means the item could be sold out before we get a chance to buy it. At the same time, there are also things that are worth buying, even when they are not on sale, because they matter so much to us. It’s learning to differentiate between the two, so when the item under consideration is more than a piece of candy, they can make a confident assessment on whether to buy now or wait.
Kids Share Their Money Mindset with You
I love dialoguing with the girls about money. They constantly amaze me by how much they pay attention to how Chris and I choose to use the family money. Whenever appropriate, we invite the girls to be a part of that discussion, which I encourage all of you to do the same. It definitely makes for some interesting dinner conversations!
One of the great things about this game is that it gives you some insight into your child’s money mindset. Because trust me, they already have one, even if you don’t think they do. Ask your child why they made the decisions they did and you might be surprised by what you learn. Maybe they waited to buy candy until it was on sale, and you’re hoping their response is around being a smart consumer. Instead, they parrot back something they overheard you say, “So-and-so is stupid for buying unneeded stuff to show-off”, so they decided to wait, so you didn’t think they were stupid too. A bit of good and bad in their answer, which deserves a deeper conversation.
You want to make sure kids understand spending money to keep up or outdo others is something they should avoid and more importantly, why they should avoid it. But buying something unneeded is not necessarily stupid. It can actually bring great joy, provided you’re not spending money intended for other priorities or creating debt. You also don’t want to give your child a money hang-up, so they feel guilty or ashamed whenever they buy something for themselves. By having these kinds of conversations, you will better understand your child’s money mindset (and perhaps even your own) and have a better idea of areas you might need to focus on and help them adjust.
Halloween Can Be Both Fun and Educational
Now some of you may think that Halloween should just remain a night of fun and let your kids enjoy it without trying to “teach” them anything. That is, of course, your right. I will also share with you that I’ve had countless parents tell me that letting their children leave home with little-to-no money skills is one of their biggest regrets. You can make learning about money entertaining, so it doesn’t become a chore or a lecture or ruin holiday fun, and this Halloween Candy Game is great opportunity to do so.