It’s never too early to start teaching children how to shop smart. Here are some tips:
- Needs and wants. There’s a difference between needs and wants, and even very young kids can be taught this. For example, you take your 5-year-old to a store shopping for necessities and he or 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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