As a kid, one of my favorite holidays (if not my absolute favorite) was Halloween.  What could be better than going out and getting large amounts of candy?  This was one of my dad’s favorite holidays, too.  He made sure that he got home from work early enough to assist…for a “fee” (i.e. a cut of the candy.)  Years later, I understand his perspective and love taking my own kids out.  As someone with over 20 years of banking experience, I’ve discovered some parallels between Halloween and Personal Finance.  Below are 4 lessons for the active Trick or Treater or their parent.

1. Tame the impulse monster—Anybody who has known me (as a kid OR adult) even for a short while is fully aware that I have a relentless sweet tooth.  I’ve always loved chocolate.  However, with Halloween, I always held back on how much I ate on the first night—even as a kid.  That euphoria of the first Three Musketeers bar fades fast, and just like money, when it is gone, there is nothing left but regret…and there certainly is regret if you eat too much candy. 

2. The cost of costumes—This is more of an adult lesson--the temptation to put kids in cute costumes is pretty strong—but the fact is that the cost can be quite high for something your kid will wear one time.  There are plenty of ways to save money on costumes, even for younger kids.  DIY is always a good idea, but not everyone is handy with thread and needle.  If you really want to buy a costume, consider purchasing a year in advance.  Though people change a lot in one year and kids certainly grow, the cost for a costume on November 5 is a fraction of the cost on October 25.  Even if you don’t want to buy costumes then, this is at least an excellent time to buy costume accessories and makeup.  You can even put them in the same box as your Halloween decorations so they aren’t forgotten next year.  For those with multiple kids, the costume that appears to be wasted on one could appeal to another—maybe a few years further down the line.

3. Budgeting (that candy)—I had the budget gene even before I knew what the word meant.  I remember having a few Halloweens where I stretched out the candy supply well into the New Year.  That doesn’t work for everyone (and might sound icky if you go too long), but it is a great lesson to teach kids about the value of saving money for another day.  When other kids chomped through their bounty by November 15, I always liked having a couple of small candy bars every day waiting for me when I came home from school. 

4. Remember to share—No responsible parent is going to let their kids eat everything they have brought home.  This makes for a great time to teach the valuable lesson of sharing.  Kids may not want to give up some of what is earned, but it definitely has its benefits—and believe it or not, they will feel pretty good about it afterwards.  Plus, it shows that you pay people for the work they do—like chaperoning their Trick or Treat experience!

Happy Halloween!
 
 
( Photo Credit: Comstock Images / Stockbyte / Thinkstock 78489072  )