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Teaching Your Kids To Be Smart Shoppers

by Joshua D. Scroggin
April 09, 2019
Kids won't understand your shopping choices unless you share the reasoning behind them. Use these tips to help make it easy.
Your kids won't understand your shopping choices unless you share the reasons why you made them. Use these tips to help make it easy to include them in the process.

Just like almost anything else, your kids won't know how to shop smart unless you show them how. From their seat on the cart or spot tagging along behind you, they might not know why you buy certain things and pass on others. But including them in the process is sure to give them a head start on making their own smart choices. 

Here are some tips:  

  • Needs and wants. There’s a difference between needs and wants, and even very young kids can learn it. For example, you take your 5-year-old to a store shopping for necessities and she wants a toy. This is a great teachable moment. You can point to your shopping cart to items such as napkins and bread and ask her what the difference is between those and the toy. 
  • Shop Smart. Compare prices and values. Teach your children why it’s OK to pay $3 for store brand and not $5 for the well-known brand. You can also model shopping choices that reflect your family values. If you buy organic or ethical items, you could talk to your child about why you’re happy to pay a bit more for them.
  • Make a budget.  Make a list before going shopping and stick to it. This also helps you to avoid impulse buys that really add up.
  • Plan with your kids. For example, if you are going to buy school clothes, identify your budget and talk about your choices of stores. Show them the sales you’ve found and how you found them. If you just drag them from store to store, they won’t learn anything.
  • Teach them how to use credit wisely. If your children, even younger ones, see you having difficulties making ends meet, but then see you purchasing items you’d like with a credit card, they’ll learn that this is the way to get what they want.

One additional point—don’t be afraid to say “no.” This helps your child learn not to be pressured into buying things by salespeople or sales.

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