Shopping is an adventure. The ability to pick and choose the things that we want and need at buying them at low prices is empowering. Shopping with children can be extremely frustrating when they keep getting off track and off task. However, roughing it out provides an optimal number of teachable moments that can help raise a smart shopper. Shopping can be a positive experience for everyone by keeping children focused and on task.
Children can become bargain hunters and money smart shoppers. Before hitting the stores, remember to eat first and make a shopping list. The children can write out the list and divide it according to the wants and needs. For example, the family needs the same weekly groceries – milk, eggs, bread, chicken and toilet tissue. These items are automatically on the list as what the family needs. Wanted items can still go on the list, but it is important to help children differentiate between the two.
If your child is not sure whether or not an item is needed, just ask, “What would it be like tomorrow morning, if we run out of milk tonight? What would you have for breakfast?” The items that are “wants” on the list such as strawberry bubble bath would obviously not have the same earth shattering consequences if the family had to do without it. Children have a learning curve when it comes to distinguishing wants and needs, so be patient and keep the conversation going. If your family shops online, everyone can still discuss what items are being purchased, and why. This helps children to understand that purchases should be planned. It will help to avoid impulse shopping.
Creating a shopping list that divides wants and needs also helps children to learn how to delay gratification. The needed items obviously take priority over wants. If either your time or budget will not permit you to get everything on the list, the wants can be tabled for another time. The family may very well forget about it and do without it, in the short run. The next time it comes up, it can go back on the list and everyone can discuss that the wants were not missed as much as something that is needed.
Children learn from hands-on shopping experience. Each can take a section of the list and be responsible for adding those items to the cart (whether you are shopping in a brick and mortar store or online). They will enjoy making selections and it is empowering to drop items in the cart. This simple task strengthens the whole purchase decision process.
At the check out, have children look at the total, and check the receipt. They can review all of the items listed and read the prices out loud. If any coupons are being used have them look at how much money was spent and how much saved using the coupon.
Shopping is a process with steps that can be broken down into teachable moments for the children. It takes time, patience and intention on your part. The idea is to intentionally teach them how to shop so that they can save money. At this point they are mostly handling your money. Smart shopping benefits everyone! The more that children participate in the process the better their chances of becoming money smart shoppers.
About the author: Candi Sparks is the mother of two, holds the Series 6 and Series 63 investment licenses, is licensed by the Department of Insurance, and holds other certifications related to finances. She also is the author of the “Can I Have Some Money?” financial book series for children. She has helped individuals and families on the road to financial freedom through her books, workshops, newsletters and website for those born with a plastic spoon in their mouths, who want bigger and better. She is able to provide informative books and workshops in a way that is fun, creative and is a great way to introduce these concepts to kids and anyone else interested in money lessons.