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Halloween Money Lessons – Cash or Candy

Halloween Cash or Candy

Halloween is just a week and a half away. This is the time of year for witches, ghosts, candy, and kid money lessons. Wait, kid money lessons?

Yep.

We all know how Halloween night is supposed to go. Kids get dressed up in costumes, and they go door-to-door ringing bells, saying “Trick or Treat,” and get some free, delicious Halloween candy.

What if, instead of just giving candy, the response was “cash or candy?”

That’s what Chuck Jaffe has done since 2016. It’s worth reading the article. I’ll wait.

If you cheated and didn’t go read the article, then:

  1. Shame on you
  2. I’ll give you a little summary

Jaffe has played games with kids where they either forgo candy or trade candy they already have. In return, they can have a guaranteed cash prize and/or a chance at a bigger cash prize.

The idea is simple… get kids thinking about value.

Almost all the kids took the money when the offer was simply cash. That makes sense; they can get candy from every other house. Over the years, the kids visiting Jaffe’s home seem to know he’s “the money house.” The kids almost always take that option, even when it’s just a gamble. And why wouldn’t they? It’s fun.

What if kids were given big candy bars? Everyone knows that the houses that give out the big bars are rare. They’re more valuable.

Experiment: Would Kids Choose Cash or Big Candy

I found this YouTube video about how one house offered kids a $2.50 giant bar or a dollar bill. Clearly, the giant bar of candy has more value. However, kids can still get candy from everyone else, and cash is rare. It turns out that about 25% took the dollar bill. There are a few other interesting things that the person learned. I don’t want to give it all away, so watch it below:

Final Thoughts

I’d love to try out some of this stuff at Halloween myself. However, we only get two or three groups of trick-or-treaters every year. I’m not sure I’d learn too much or increase the financial literacy of too many kids.

One of the more interesting side effects of Cash or Candy is that kids walk away with less candy. That’s less sugar, cavities, and obesity.

Finally, if Cash or Candy isn’t your thing and you find yourself with too much candy, you can always try “Cash FOR Candy.” This program run by HeathyWage will give you cash for sending your candy to overseas troops. They have limited cash to give, so you need to act fast.

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Brian MacFarland has reached more than 10 million people on his personal finance journey to financial independence.  He’s been featured in the Washington Post, U.S. News and World Report, and Lifehacker.

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