I remember always going grocery shopping with my dad, maybe that’s why I don’t mind going now as an adult subconsciously, but it taught me about purchases at a young age. Grocery shopping wasn’t always about filling up the cart with whatever we want and unloading at home, and that somewhere in between there was actually making the purchase, which of course wasn’t coming out of my bank account at the time so I didn’t feel that burden back then as I do now. Of course, kids shouldn’t have the same financial responsibilities as we do as adults, but the earlier you teach about money and the responsibility that comes with it, the better off they can be as they grow into adults and avoid any money mistakes.
Figure Out What’s Important
If you have gone shopping with kids, you know that you often hear “I want this” or “I need this”. Teaching our children, the difference between want and need can start with us as parents. With back to school shopping coming back in full force next month, which is scary to hear that already, as the summer feels like it has flown by so far, that could be a good place to start. Teaching about overspending on the number of items, not to mention the difference in price between high and low-end supplies can shed some light on what they feel they “need”.
Get Used to a List
Whether it is taking your kids grocery shopping with you, errands at the mall, Christmas shopping, or even shopping online these days, it is important to have a shopping list, otherwise it can cause you to purchase more than you intended on. If you can make a list before you shop, and stick to that list, you can show the importance of being prepared and keeping focus by avoiding any impulse purchases. If you go shopping without a list, not only will you forget items, but you will likely come home with a lot more than you intended, ruining your budget.
Set a Budget
While on the subject of budgets, whether you have a certain limit that they can spend on clothes or school supplies, it will teach children to hopefully make that money last a little further than blowing it on a couple expensive items. You can let them choose what to buy, but review the shopping list with them and explain this is all the money you have, so they will need to figure out how to make it last. Giving ourselves or our children, an unlimited budget is never a good idea in any regard.
Don’t Forget About Coupons
While the Sunday paper may not be as popular as it was when I was a kid, looking at the sale papers, and watching my parents clip through the stacks of coupons that came with it. These days there are so many other options besides waiting under Sunday to figure out purchases. Grocery stores offer digital coupons that you can load to your shopper’s reward card, and between Groupon, Facebook, and even weekly mail can provide more than enough coupons to still show that you should never pay full price for anything if you can help it.
Go Over Pros and Cons of Credit Cards
Credit cards are a great thing; they offer you to pay the balance by next month’s due date, can offer protection instead of having your bank account wiped out if you are a victim of fraud, and they offer rewards points. Rewards can come in the form of points that you can redeem for restaurant and retail gift cards, or you could even receive a lump sum check to you once a year like Costco does, that you can use in their store and have any of the difference given back to you in cash. You can even use the rebate at their gas stations on-site. Fortunately, Costco gas hours are generous considering you might be waiting awhile to hit one of their pumps. Explaining these pros, along with the rather huge con that credit cards require a significant amount of financial discipline is great to be taught at a young age to spend what you have.
A good way to keep yourself in check on the purchases you make is reviewing your bank and credit card statements as you receive them, going line by line to see what was necessary, and well, unnecessary. Have your children learn the importance of sticking to monthly expenses, and maybe if you see a pattern of say, eating out quite often, it could be a good learning opportunity that maybe you should start to eat at home more and watch the savings start to rise.