Who Wants to Play Halloween Scrooge?

Scrooge

Who wants to play Halloween Scrooge with me? Let’s visit with the Ghosts of Halloween Past, Future, and Present.

The Ghost of Halloween Past shows us a grocery store on October 15. In the back are a couple of aisles with bags of candy, plastic pumpkins, and a few witch and ghost costumes that smell like fresh polyester. No blowup yard characters. Or 50-foot extension cords. No flashing orange and black house lights. Or pet costumes. No assaulting of all senses at the store entrance.

The Ghost of Halloween Future shows us entire neighborhoods festooned with wireless flashing lights. Competitions for tallest and scariest yard holograms, many of which resemble politicians. Entrance fees to trick or treat in your own backyard. (Automatically deducted from your watch when you walk up to the first house.)

The Ghost of Halloween Present, or Halloween Spirit, intervenes and reminds us that of all holidays, Halloween comes with the least sense of obligation. Although the origins may be macabre, it’s a pretty harmless, purely letting-off-steam celebration. What’s wrong with going over the top with no pressures once a year?

Scrooge or Spirit?

Surveying the temptations, Halloween Scrooge says, “Money is better saved than spent, especially on wasteful things like bags of 100 Snickers and plastic witches.”

“But,” says Halloween Spirit, “So what if we gorge ourselves on corn-syrup candy and outlandish pet costumes? We need some FUN!”

Which is it in these tough times – irresponsible spending or mentally necessary diversion?

Spontaneous Spending Strategies

The answer is different for everyone. Do you ever have spending “hangovers”?

If so, you may want to try tracking your spending, real-time. There are apps for that (such as Mint, YNAB, or M1). Or an old fashioned little notebook works too.

Some people have a play-money amount, or even a separate account, set aside just for spontaneous spending. That’s more like serious spontaneous spending.

Scrooges Just Want to Have Fun

Financial planners may be the most notorious bunch for Scroogeness – failing to appreciate money as a tool for necessary entertainment. We don’t want to be Scrooge to anyone – not our clients, nor our families. Yet our analytical nature can sometimes come across that way. Spending with healthy enjoyment is one of the greatest balancing acts we can all learn.

Whether you plan your shopping ahead of time, or spend with abandon, make your Halloween hangover-free. And Scrooge would say, save some leftover candy for Christmas stockings.

To show financial planners can have a little fun, enjoy this flashback Halloween Scrooge video:

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To Be Or Not To Be….A Halloween Scrooge

Retailers want to know – Are you ready? Got enough candy? Bought your pre-carved pumpkin? How about costumes for Lucky and Whiskers? When it comes to Halloween spending, it seems they’ve thought of a million different ways to get Americans to celebrate.
And what’s wrong with it? Compared to the other big consumer holidays, Halloween comes with the least sense of duty and obligation. It’s, more simply, pure discretionary fun. Add to the mix that this year it falls on a Saturday, and retailers will likely get even more of our wallets.
So what if we spend money on corn-syrup candy and pet costumes? Which is it – unnecessary, irresponsible spending (as a Halloween Scrooge might say) or necessary, letting-off-steam, fun?
To answer for yourself, think about these 3 questions:
1) Do you have a play-money account or amount set aside in your cash flow plan to spend however you like?
2) Have you ever tracked your discretionary spending?
3) Do you ever have spending “hangovers,” and suspect you may spend too much on spontaneity?
Financial planners ourselves may be the most guilty bunch of failing to appreciate money as a tool for bringing spontaneous fun to our lives. We don’t want to be the unwitting Scrooge to anyone – not our clients, nor our families, yet our analytical nature can sometimes come across that way. Spending with healthy enjoyment is one of the greatest balancing acts we can all learn.
Whether you plan it all out ahead of time, or see who comes knocking on October 31, make your Halloween hangover-free. Enjoy the holiday in the way that seems right for you. And if you’re still not sure, you could call your financial planner….or just ask Lucky and Whiskers.
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