I suppose every parent hopes to teach their kids important lessons about life. The lessons that you teach them about decision making, money, friendship, family, and much more will in part determine how they do as adults when they are primarily making their own decisions. As my kids grow older every year, slowly but surely the tremendous fun I have had over the year trick or treating with them on October 31st is fading away. This was the first year where my oldest daughter didn’t go out trick or treating with a costume and the two younger ones aren’t far behind. So how did Halloween teach my kids something about how our economy works?
We’ve been having some discussions at home about the difference on how the candidates think about business and how money should be distributed (or redistributed). When the two kids finished their massive candy assault on the neighborhood, they both wound up with huge bags of candy. Just like most of us did as kids, they dumped their entire stash on the floor feverishly scrambling to scrape the loose candy back into a mega pile. Then, the laborious process of sorting their candy began. Each of the kids put their Butterfingers with Butterfingers and Snickers with Snickers irrespective of shape and size until there were roughly 20 to 25 piles of different candy.
It’s at that moment that my wife had a great idea. She was about to teach the kids a quick lesson on what we face as a nation. She asked my oldest daughter to sit down on the floor with the other kids. Noticeably, my daughter had no candy in front of her. My wife then said, “Kids, let’s talk about what the economy will continue to look like under Obama.” With a swipe of her hand, she pulled 1/3rd of the pile of candy from my son and 1/3rd of the pile of candy from my daughter and put it squarely in front of my oldest daughter. You can imagine that this was about to set off World War III as the other two screamed at the top of their lungs asking what my wife was doing. She shared with them that no matter how much time and how hard they toiled to get the candy that evening that under Obama economics that candy would be quickly redistributed to those that don’t have any candy. This is the ‘fair’ way to make sure everyone is taken care of no matter what kind of effort or work it would take to get the job accomplished. It’s understandable the kids didn’t like this at all, so we returned the candy to their piles but it became clear to them how this scenario with their Halloween candy is what we face in business every day.
Quickly after that illustrative display when the piles were returned to their original status, she shared how things could work under a Romney administration. What she told the kids is that we wouldn’t be taking any of their piles of candy as a course of mandatory action. We thought they should be able to keep most of what they earned because of their hard work and effort through a couple of miles of walking that evening. However, we did say that it seemed unfair that my oldest daughter didn’t get any candy at all and wouldn’t it be the right thing to do to give her a few pieces from each of their stash because surely they couldn’t eat all of that candy. The kids were glad to fork over a handful of pieces of candy to my oldest daughter and we talked about how that represented the idea of being charitable. If you become successful in life, it should be part of your job to donate something that you earn back into other causes that are less fortunate. However, those that are more capitalistic and put in the hard work and effort with results should be rewarded the most.
When I was growing up, Halloween mostly taught me about the strategy of going out later in the evening rather than earlier since most people just want to get rid of the candy. This Halloween, we were presented with the opportunity to teach our kids a little bit about the economy and what powerful choices we have as citizens in this country. I guess if you work hard, do well for yourself, make money, and are forced to pay most of it back to the Government than that toothache might hurt just a little bit more than a Three Musketeers Bar!
Ted Jenkin, CFP®, AAMS®, AWMA®, CRPC®, CMFC®, CRPS®
Co-CEO and Founder of oXYGen Financial, Inc – The Leaders in Gen X & Y Financial Advice and Services
Ted Jenkin is one of the foremost knowledgeable professionals in giving financial advice to the X and Y Generation.
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