My little boy always shop with me in his First Years Wave Stroller and I gradually realize it’s important to teach him something about shopping. A vast majority of people think shopping is going out and buying what you what. You could define it as such, but that doesn’t cover the whole shopping experience. It also doesn’t look at how smart shopping can make such a big difference. Teaching your kid the value of smart shopping will help them learn to appreciate their money more and handle it wisely.
Make Them Part of the Shopping Experience
It is tempting to leave you children at home when you go shopping. It is less of a headache, but they won’t learn unless they are exposed to it. Take your children shopping and let them learn how you do it right.
Show them how the store is laid out and what you are doing there. Explain to them the importance of lists. In fact, make them one for themselves. When you get the pickle aisle, don’t point out the pickles. Let them find them. They will feel such an accomplishment about that. Talk to them as you about your shopping. Explain what you’re doing.
Take them to the grocery store, the department store, and even furniture shopping. The more exposed they are, the more they will understand that smart shopping includes a pack of gum all the way to buying a car.
If you leave your child at home each time you shop, how will they learn?
Teach Them How to Shop
Don’t just grab a jar of pickles. Show them all the different kinds sitting on the shelves. Explain to them that now, the real shopping begins. Talk about brand names. Use the labels to teach them how to read ingredients and serving sizes. Have them use their math skills to see if a sale really is something good. Not all sales save you money. Carry a pencil and pad or a calculator to help in this area.
If you’re shopping at a department store, show them where clearance items are and why they are such good deals. When there is a sale, help them calculate what that 25% off is and how it works.
This is the time to cover several important shopping concepts:
- Comparison shopping – Are all brands the same? Why are there different prices and names for what appears to be the same thing?
- Knowing what is a good buy – Is 20% really the best deal just because it is on sale? Is buying in bulk a good idea? When it is good to buy some products but not all the time?
- Calculating sales – If a product is 10% and you have a coupon for an additional 15% off, show your child how the product is not 25% off. This is a great time to teach math.
- Understanding tax – Just because an item is $7.99 doesn’t mean that you can hand the cashier $8.00 and be fine. Taxes can make a huge difference. Explain to your child what taxes are, why you have to pay them, and how they should be calculated in the cost of the item.
- Knowing exactly what you’re buying – Talk to them about looking closely at a product and understanding that what they think they are buying could not be what is in their hands. Packaging, marketing, and being in a rush could spell disaster for you. Just because the pants are hanging on the size 9 rack doesn’t mean that they are.
- Study the labels – Are you buying canned chicken in water or oil? Has the item expired? Does it contain products you are allergic to? The labels tell us so much including where the item was made, how to take care it, and if there are any dangers in it.
- Discuss packaging and what makes more sense to you and your family – Frozen or canned peas? Frozen might be a better deal, but do you have the freezer space for it all? Bulk is usually cheaper, but do you have storage?
- Talk about green products and how they affect you and the environment – Many products promote their environmentally friendly products. Read the labels and talk about packaging implications as well as possible waste of food.
- The dangers of spontaneous purchases – How much money do you lose by buying impulsively? Talk about how this can add up and be a waste of money in the long run. Remind them to keep to the list.
How to Make Shopping an Enjoyable Experience
Talk with your child about how shopping can be fun. Show them polite interactions with the store employees and other customers. This is a great opportunity to teach more than math and money. Make it a game. Show them that it doesn’t have to be something to dread or something horrible.
Let Them Shop
Nothing sinks in like actually doing it yourself. Give them a list. Give them some money. Let them take what you have taught them and actually do it. It will be fun watching them find the pickles, comparison shop, calculate the best prices, read the labels, and put it in the cart. Watch as they get to the register and ignore the gum and candy waiting to be impulsively bought.
Life lessons learned that can benefit them greatly in the years to come!