Typical Easter activities for kids include egg coloring, egg hunts, Easter Sunday services followed by family meals, and — the highlight of many children’s day — Easter basket goodies. There are certainly ways to save money on these prizes (statistics estimate the average American household will spend about $146 on Easter this year!), but regardless of how much you spend, Easter baskets provide a prime opportunity to reinforce a few important financial lessons with your kids. Consider how you can incorporate these three Easter basket lessons this Easter Sunday.
Lesson 1: Delayed Gratification
The excited discovery of Easter basket surprises early Sunday morning followed by “please eat just one piece” present you with a dilemma: should you really let them eat chocolate and sugary jelly beans before breakfast? If you’re an easy-going parent who doesn’t mind a little deviation for a special holiday, then you’re probably in the majority. However, if you want to teach your kids a great financial lesson, make it a tradition to enjoy treats after breakfast.
Besides teaching kids that they’ll probably feel better if they fill up on ‘real’ food instead of getting an early-morning tummy ache from too much candy, this teaches them an important concept they’ll be able to apply to many other areas of life, including their finances: delayed gratification.
A great example of this concept in action comes from follow-up studies after the famous Stanford ‘marshmallow experiment’ of the 1970s. Kids who passed on the immediate marshmallow and waited patiently for the promised ‘better’ prize grew into adults with higher success rates in almost every area of life.
Lesson 2: Saving, Reusing, Re-purposing
After all the goodies have been consumed, the basket itself — including plastic eggs and wicker containers — lose their allure and get tossed aside. Not only will you save money if you set aside these items to reuse next year, re-purpose them for other uses, or sell them in an annual garage sale, you’ll be teaching your kids lessons in frugality. Even recycling plastic eggs or donating items to a charity or Goodwill demonstrates that no matter how insignificant an item seems, it might still serve a purpose to someone, somewhere.
Lesson 3: Money Versus ‘Stuff’
Easter baskets just aren’t the same without some candy. But instead of going all-out on consumables and cool, cheap gifts like coloring books, sidewalk chalk, bubbles, and small toys, why not fill a few of those plastic eggs with money? Teaching kids the value of money can’t begin early enough. Not only can they learn to appreciate what money can buy (and how to make spending decisions), but that the cash can ‘grow’ to a larger sum if it’s saved. Depending on your child’s age, you might even consider opening up a savings account for them, with their Easter ‘earnings’ as their first deposit.
These are by no means the only financial lessons you can teach your children this Easter. While you’re teaching them to celebrate spring or cherish a key holiday of your faith, equip them with a few practical lessons that will help them succeed financially, and in the rest of life.