When I was growing up, Halloween was all about costumes, candy and haunted houses. In my quest for Butterfingers and Peppermint Patties, I braved life-size plastic mummies, graveyards and spooky music played from porch speakers. At the end of the night, I sorted all my candy into piles. I ranked them from favorite to least favorite, then ate one piece from each category. After that, I stored each group of candies in separate containers.
Yes, I was that kid — the one eating Halloween candy at Christmas. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I became a meticulous budgeter when I grew up. Budgeting wasn’t the only lesson I learned from trick-or-treating, though. Somewhere between choosing a Disney princess costume and trading Milky Ways with my brothers, Halloween taught me money lessons that have stuck with me, even after I transitioned from candy collector to candy distributor.
Here are some of the money lessons Halloween candy taught me.
1. Self-restraint can save you money
As a teenager, I was a bit too old to go trick-or-treating, but I still had Halloween candy cravings. So I waited until November 1, when most candy sold for half price. This taught me that if I know I really want something, but I’m also pretty sure it’s going to be on sale soon, I should wait. I still get what I want, but I save some money.
Today, I still wait for sales instead of purchasing something the first time I see it. And even if you’re feeling impatient, you can do a little research and actively seek out deals. To get you started, check out these 50 free things you can get this fall.
2. You can earn more by managing your resources & time
I always picked a trick-or-treating neighborhood with closely clustered houses to maximize my candy “profit” for the night. As an adult, I try to use my resources — savings and income — with the greatest return on investment.
I never ate all my candy in one night, but plenty of my classmates did, and I knew they would regret it. I knew it would be better to have a stash in the weeks and months to come. Today I make sure not to blow a paycheck or a windfall all at once, and sticking to a budget makes my money last longer.
Don't have a budget in place? It doesn't have to be complicated. In fact, this simple spreadsheet is all you need.
3. How much you earn depends on how hard you work
To get candy, I’d spend the evening speed-walking between houses. Most grown-ups gave out candy to everybody, but a good number of them rewarded kids with the coolest costumes by giving them extra treats. The idea that working hard reaps greater rewards was an important lesson I learned as a kid while trick-or-treating.
Earning candy, like money, requires effort — the harder you work, the more you’ll bring in.
4. Value is relative
Butterfingers were my favorite candy, but my brothers didn’t like them, so they didn't hold any bargaining power in trades. Just because something is valuable to one person doesn’t give it real-world value.
5. It's important to give back
The day after Halloween, my school would collect candy for a local charity that distributed our donations to kids in need. Growing up with this tradition led me to value sharing some of my adult income with others. The feeling of giving to charity and knowing you’re doing good is something that stayed with me from a young age.
6. Always pay your taxes
In exchange for making our costumes and chaperoning us on Halloween night, my parents always requested a few of their favorite pieces of candy out of our stuffed pillowcases. Instead of paying candy to my parents, today I pay taxes to the government. Nothing good comes for free.
7. Set goals
If I went trick-or-treating without a plan, I ended up in neighborhoods without much candy, climbing up steep driveways for a packet of Nerds. As an adult, plans are still important to achieve my financial goals. I learned that if there is something you really want to attain, whether it’s a packet of candy or a new car, setting goals is what drives you forward.
Want more? Check out which candy contains the most sugar per dollar.
This article originally appeared on CentSai.