From shelves jam-packed with merchandise to brightly-colored boxes staring your kids in the face, a shopping trip can be an over-stimulating experience for a child and can easily tempt a parent to overspend. Here are six ways to keep your money in your wallet:
1. Shop with blinders on.
Give your kids a heads-up when you are heading out to shop. Let them know in advance what the purpose of the trip is for so they know not to ask for items. If you have a little one who may throw a tantrum, try to make the trip as quick as possible so you can get in and out. This will save your sanity and your wallet. Little money adds up to big money, so caving their pleading can be a costly mistake.
2. Just say yes.
If you know it's hard for your child to shop without whining for something, allow them to choose one item in advance before you even enter the store. This way you will have an idea of what the item costs and can discuss acceptable options. You won't overspend and you'll prevent them from trying to talk you into something pricey when you're there. If they ask anyway, remind them of your agreement.
3. Break open the piggy banks.
If your child has been saving and wants to spend his money on something special at the store, make him bring his wallet. Remind your children that they are only allowed to pick something they can afford. Explain how they need to pick something within the dollar amount that they have. Get ideas of how much items cost by looking online first. They'll be better able to gauge the type of items they can get, and it also helps prepare them for budgeting as adults.
4. Let kids do the talking.
Give them ample time to shop and decide what they would like to buy. If we want children to learn how to be responsible with money, we have to give them the responsibility. Let them have a say in how they spend their money. According to a study by education expert Alfie Kohn, children are less likely to comply with a rule when they have had no role in inventing it or discussing it. Give them plenty of opportunities to make buying decisions and have a say in what happens. This will make them more engaged in the process.
5. Have your child help with the grocery list.
Stock your pantry with kid and parent-approved items. Allow your child to write down their favorites on the list. If they are too young to write, they can tell you and watch you make the list. You make the trip an adventure or a game when shopping. Maybe the food is hiding and you have to find it. Once you are in the correct aisle, have your child locate the item you are looking for. If it happens to be an item they eat, you'd be surprised how quickly they are able to find it in the store even if they can't read yet.
6. Let them think they are in charge.
Create a checklist of healthy items that your family likes to eat. Have your child help select what they want to eat from the list. As the parent, you control the options, but the child can still provide choices. And that will help make everyone's shopping experience more enjoyable.
Karen Cordaway is a teacher, website owner, writer who currently teaches personal finance to children.
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