Liz Frazier, Forbes
For better or worse, we are our child’s role model for everything. We are teaching these little sponges every second of the day, whether we intend to or not. Scary, right? This is especially true when it comes to money matters. You are shaping your child’s attitudes and behaviors around finance each time you talk about money (or DON’T talk about money), go shopping, travel, work, etc. The good news is it’s never too late to start intentionally teaching our kids good financial behaviors.
An easy opportunity to start is the next time you go shopping with your child. Whether you are shopping for them or just running errands, use these daily activities as opportunities to teach your child some smart shopping strategies. The below is from my book Beyond Piggy Banks and Lemonade Stands: How to Teach Young Kids About Finance:
Avoid impulse buying:
- Make a list: Making a list before going to the grocery store helps reduce impulse decisions. Have your child help you list out everything you need before leaving the house. Once you are at the store, give them a few items to find on their own. Then when they ask if they can have something else, remind them that it’s not on the list.
- Wait: If your child wants something that is expensive, make them wait 24 hours before purchasing. Tell them if they are still interested in the item after a day, you will take them back to get it. If they forget about it, it clearly wasn’t that important. Set a dollar limit for what’s considered expensive based on their age and allowance, like $10 for a kindergartener and $20 for a fourth grader.
- Set a limit at events: One-time events like shows, circuses, carnivals, and amusement parks gets everyone excited, especially children. You will barely have stepped inside before hearing all the things they want. Before going to an event, give your child a limit on how much they can spend. This will cut down on the wands, fans, bubble makers, Styrofoam fingers, and other cheap items they will buy (and instantly break).
Focus on saving money:
- Bring coupons: Even if you’re not a regular coupon cutter, doing it with your child provides the valuable lesson of saving money while shopping. Have your child help you find the coupon items while at the store. Show them how much money you saved at the end of the trip.
- Comparison shop: Whether it’s food or something for yourself, make a point of comparison shopping. Look at several similar items and how much each one costs. Explain to your child that you want to find the least expensive choice, but it still needs to be good quality. Show them the price differences between brand name items and generic; encourage them to buy generic when the quality is the same. Identify any specials going on at the store and explain how products sometimes go on sale when a store wants to sell more of that product.
- Buy in bulk: When you can, buy items in bulk and show your child how you can save money doing this by comparing the individual costs of an item.
Think before you buy:
- Research: If there is an item your child wants, explain that there are several different types of that item, so it’s important to buy the right one. For example, if your child wants a float for the beach, help them research different types of floats. Read reviews and compare the qualities of several different models. Include them when you are researching items that you plan to purchase for yourself. Ask them which one is better quality, and which they think you should buy.
- Other options: If your child really wants something, look at options other than buying it. Is this something you can rent, or borrow from the library or a friend? Can you buy it used and save some money?
Stop buying “stuff”:
- This is so much easier said than done, especially when your 1stgrader is standing in the aisle screaming that he will “die” if he doesn’t get that high-flying bouncy ball. Stand strong. Unless you are going shopping with the intent to buy them something, stop buying them those little knick-knacks that’s sole purpose of existence is to keep them happy (and quiet) so you can shop in peace. Make them bring their own money and tell them that they can use that to buy the bouncy ball.
You can also set a positive example every day by following some of the below money saving tips. Be sure to explain to your child what you’re doing and how it saves money.
- Save on power: So much money is spent each day on power. Make it a point to turn off the lights when you leave the room and ask your child to do the same. When you leave the house, ask your child to go through each room and make sure the lights are turned off. This has the added bonus of saving you money each month!
- Movie nights: What used to be a cheap night out now almost costs the same as a weekend getaway. A family of four going out for dinner and a movie can cost upwards of $200, especially if you add in the necessary staples like the 45 oz soda and jumbo popcorn. This is not to say that your family should never go to the movies. Just occasionally tell your child that you are going to try to save some money, and instead of going out to the movies tonight, you’re going to have “movie night” at home. Pop some popcorn, turn down the lights, and rent a movie or watch one you’ve previously purchased.
- Carpool: Gas prices are always on the rise, and often times not calculated in one’s everyday expenses or factored in when planning an outing. Carpool with other parents the next time you have to travel for your son’s soccer game. Tell your child that you saved money by splitting the cost of gas.
- Handmade gifts: Instead of buying all of your gifts this year, try making a few. Encourage your child to make their own gifts such as jewelry, poems, drawings or cookies for their friends and family at birthdays and holidays. Not only is a great way to save some money, it’s thoughtful and can be fun.
Read the original article here.