Holidays, like Halloween, provide teachable moments 

As Halloween approaches, many children are looking forward to this holiday in anticipation of magic and mystery.  But for most of us grownups, the charm of this holiday is tainted by the reality that, like most anything, Halloween comes with a price.  To participate in the festivities, Americans devote vast amounts of money, second only to Christmas spending.  According to consumer affairs, the average amount spent for Halloween decorations/props, costumes and candy is expected to be $75.03. 

Instead of looking at the cost of this upcoming season in alarm, now is a great time to talk to your child/children about money.  The monetary reality of life is often a mystery to children.  Most of them understand the concept of adding and subtracting, multiplying and dividing amounts, and all of them can visualize coins and bills, but most of them do not know where it comes from or how it stands in relation to goods and services of everyday life.  The monetary system is becoming more and more complex, and by making finances an everyday topic, you can give your children a well-deserved advantage in life.

Halloween is a great opportunity to get started.  Here are some suggestions on how to go about it.

Negotiate.  You could offer to buy the collected candy from your children for a negotiated amount of money.  With that money, your child can buy back the candies back at a different price contingent upon the calorie count or the size of the candy.  Also, the price of the candy could be reduced by a certain percentage each day.  This would teach and explain the concept of deferred gratification.

Teach.  Identify and use the seasons’ teachable moments.  When going to the farm to pick a pumpkin, talk to your children about the farmer who planted it and how it helps him earn money for his family.  Talk to your youngster about how the farmer tends to the pumpkin patch starting with seedlings, and then explain the hidden costs necessary to have a successful harvest. When buying a costume, inform your child of your budget.  Allow him/her to comparison shop and to make wise choices by offering incentives.  An incentive would be to keep the difference, or to use the difference for something else on the child’s wish list. When buying and collecting candy, discuss the monetary cost and real cost of candy with your children.

Barter.  When your children come home with your favorite candy, ask them to trade it for some of yours. This might work or might not, depending on your preferences.  In any case, making the trade of one piece of candy for another will give your child a real-life introduction into the economic benefits of bartering. 

There are as many ways to make finances an everyday topic as there are holidays in the future.  This Halloween can be your family’s first step toward educating your youngsters on how our lives are influenced by money-related factors on a daily basis.  While your kid’s childhood should be filled with magical experiences such as trick-or-treating or trunk-or-treating, it’s your responsibility to demystify our financial system and to give your child a real advantage. •  


Rebekka Sanders is a NFEC Certified Financial Education Instructor and Chief Program and Curriculum Officer at Money Quest Financial Academy.  Money Quest Financial Academy aims to raise awareness concerning financial literacy and its range of personal invaluable goal enrichment packages offers financial education for all ages, in cooperating family and community as strong key success factors.  Learn more about the National Financial Education Council (NFEC) at

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