In any economy, teaching kids about money management is important, but for the lessons to really stick, it requires discipline and creativity on our part as parents. It is about engaging their minds while satisfying their never ending stream of wants and needs. The good news is we’re presented with many opportunities to teach these lessons—every time we’re out running errands as a family. Below are three easy exercises to work in before, during and after grocery shopping to start building your children’s understanding of money management:
Before the Trip: Share time online with your kids, finding grocery coupons and deals (RedPlum’s grocery and drug section comes to mind…). Sort through the Sunday newspaper together finding manufacturers' cents-off coupons and store circulars. Then cut and sort coupons together; they will learn about prices and the value of being organized when spending money.
During the Trip: While in the grocery store, give the beloved brand cereal coupon to your child and they will run with delight up the aisle looking for the specified product. Repeat for maximum entertainment value! When you don’t have a coupon for a brand name your child expresses interest in, it’s a great teaching opportunity. Talk about when a brand name and a possible increase in quality is worth the extra cost—and when it’s not. Discuss what types of items your family buys the brand-name version of, and where you’re happy with generic. They are learning to look for items that are the best value, and to consider the family’s preferences and priorities.
After the Trip: Review the receipt together and challenge your child to find how much money was spent and how much money was saved. Then, at home if you have a system for tracking "family earning and burning," (also known as your brood’s outlays and income) show it to them. This closes the shopping loop and may spark an interest in coming up with a system to track their own money. But resist buying them a system designed by somebody else—to ensure maximum ownership. Remember, it might not be perfect, but if you give them the space and time to mold it into something that works for them, it will be well worth the effort.
Amy Bergin is a wife, mom of three, and the creator of The Couponizer, a coupon organizing system for busy moms. Learn more at Couponizer.com!
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