Can Halloween teach your kids how to manage money for long term?

Is Halloween a good lesson to kids on how to manage money or …..anti-financial literacy day? Total Halloween spending—including candy, costumes, and decorations—to come in at $7.4 billion this year (

However, not all is lost. With dentists buying back candy across the country, homemade costumes and grow-your-own pumpkins free seminars there is plenty of opportunities to save money on this holiday or even make it all back. If certainly can turn this day into a reminder to your children ad yourself why responsible preparation and careful money spending plan is important.

Halloween always puzzled me with a combo of seemingly unrelated events and traditions. Why do kids go from house to house to ask for candy? Why in costumes? Why so many costumes mean to scare? And why October 31st???

Turns out, ancient Celts celebrated pre-Christian Celtic festival of Samhain on October 31st.

The popular culture tradition to “trick or treat” is not that ancient – 1951, it turns out, when trick-or-treating was depicted in the Peanuts comic strip. Have you seen 1952 Disney production, a cartoon called “Trick or Treat” featuring Donald Duck?

Dressing in disguise, consuming sugar without constraints  – do theses Halloween themes mean overabundance? These festivities celebrate breaking out of self-discipline into indulgence – and may be noone will even notice, because you are wearing a costume!  So technically, it is not even you eating all that candy or spending all that money on things that will not have any value before or after October 31st. Tomorrow you will put your regular clothes on and will go back to your regular habits.

Well, what does this really mean to your wallet? Good thing it is only one day! May be in their ancient wisdom the Celts actually knew that anyone needs a break and to “save” you first need to “spend”, feel ashamed and broke and … embrace self-discipline, healthy eating and long-term benefits of planned money management.

The more I learn about cultures around the world, the more am I convinced in the universal ancient wisdom. Take the festival of Purim that is celebrated every year ate winter/early spring. It commemorates the salvation of the Jewish people in ancient Persia. Carnival-like celebrations are held and the commandment is to eat (a lot, I understand) and be merry. There is no way around sugar – fruit-filled cookies hamentaschen are in high demand and consumption during the festival.

I can continue the parallels with New Orlean and its  Creole’s roots of Mardi Gras, but let me save it for the next blog…

Enjoy after-Halloween financial literacy with your children!

back to school pic[heading]Smart back-to-school shopping[/heading]

August is here to remind us that the summer is winding down and the new school year is just around the corner. Whether we like it or not, it is time to get children ready for school. I have experienced firsthand and witnessed enough of what I call “Are we shopping for the whole class?” trips to the store. I came to realize that arguing in the store is not a good time or place to instill financial discipline. The train has left the station by then and you are just trying to contain the fire form the public eye. “I do not want people to think that I am cheap, plus we have a million other things to do today”- this may be your last thought before you give in and buy everything that your youngster put into the shopping cart.

Is it just me or did you notice too that these shopping carts are getting bigger and bigger, by the way?

Good news is that with proactive preparation you can prevent in-store unpleasant scenes. We usually start with “summer cleaning” in our household. What this means is, we try to find and sort the school supplies that are just laying around the house (perhaps unused from previous years and somehow left over from parents’ work or from another source). Having an agreed-upon list of supplies for the coming year is a must! Check your school folder or a website to see if they offer one, or simply sit down with your children to write one based on their and your expectations form the coming year. When you organize your “house finds”, match them against your list. You are likely to find that some of the needs are covered by your just completed “treasure hunt”! Only THEN plan a trip to the store, to shop for the REST of the list.

If you feel like it (or can afford it) you can negotiate a “luxury item/s” with your child as a reward for their cooperation with the cleaning and planning process. Let them buy item/s that are not on the list but do capture their imagination while in the store. Ask them to set the budget for this luxury purchase and may be even use that as an educational opportunity when they have to write you a story justifying how this luxury item will help them in school.

Use the same process for your school year clothing supply replenishment. I hope your back-to-school in-store experience will be argument-free and … a lot more affordable now!

tennis pic[heading]Champs off and on the court – should parents still teach finances? [/heading]

What to say to your child if she forgets her prize money? The big question for parents is whether financial literacy is important for all of us or just for the ones with average abilities in other walks of life.

What makes me think about this question is the peculiar way this year’s tennis US Open runner up, Caroline Wozniacki, will be remembered – by forgetting her check (

Not all the parents get to the point when they are working for their children, but certainly every family has a time when they need to know how to share the assets, how to treat each other’s contribution financially – in other words “who gets what when”.  Caroline Wozniacki is not sure what she pays her father, who is her coach. She says: “my dad would work for free”.  Parents: do not we all work for free?

Parenting is a 24/7 job that requires constant investment. It does pay emotional dividends, of course, but I would question you can count on making money or even a living from parenting (with a few exceptions, of course). Caroline is a tennis star in her prime, and her financial accounts are probably at their best even without the monitoring.  Another tennis star – Björn Borg –comes to mind. According to Wikipedia, Björn Borg was the first player to earn more than one million dollars in prize money in a single season, in 1979. In 2006 however, Bonhams Auction House in London announced that it would auction Borg’s Wimbledon trophies and two of his winning rackets on 21 June 2006.

Fortunes come and go, financial discipline does not. Whether it is a $1 bill or a $1.4 million dollar check, I encourage you to teach your child not to leave it behind. If they know how to earn it, they should know how manage it. What may be enough for one person, is not enough for another person. Money is the means to accomplishing your goals and dreams – can you imagine how much your child can accomplish if she can earn multi millions to support her goals?

WSJ reports Caroline Wozniacki approaches sponsorships by how she feels about the company and does not think about her brand. As a parent,  here is a thought for us all – what if we, parents, could raise children who could make every dollar go as far as possible, in the direction that feels good for the heart, not just the wallet. What wonderful well-rounded persons would they be!




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Get your daughter involved, too. Let her know what you're saving, how you're investing and what she can contribute. It will not only open her eyes to the cost of her future education, it will be a good financial lesson right now.

Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz President, Charles Schwab Foundation; Senior Vice President, Schwab

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