Many people, including our children, are left scratching their heads wondering where their money went. Part of the problem is that many people make impulse buys without even realizing it. If time and time again your child is aimlessly buying random items and can't figure out why they're unable to save for something they've been meaning to buy, here are three tips to get them on track.
1. Get nerdy about money.
Read books that support your values and money philosophies. If your child is just learning to put away money in a piggy bank, it can be a great time to introduce books about saving money. The book "Little Critter: Just Saving My Money" discusses the basics of saving in story form. It's an "I Can Read" book with a beginning reader format making it digestible for young children. The Berenstain Bears' "Trouble with Money" book highlights the struggle the bears have between being spendthrifts and little misers. The colorful picture book explains money problems with a lesson in the course of each story. Books like this can plant a saving seed and provide a financial foundation in an age appropriate way.
2. Get a virtual reality check.
If you have a tween or teenager, use Pinterest together as a virtual vision board. Harness the power of Pinterest to help them make buying decisions. Have them pin items they want to buy to a pin board. Type the price in the description section of your Pinterst board so they can see the reality of how much the item costs and get an estimate roughly how much they should save. When they earn money from their first job, by doing chores or through getting gift money, they can more readily decide what is a realistic short-term goal they versus what has to be longer term.
If your teenager is heading off to college soon, have them start pinning items they will need. There are many college boards already established to get ideas. That can plan and set goals to plot out what they want to get. Also use the search option to see what other college age kids are pinning to get ideas for what they'll need for dorm life.
Pinterest expert Cynthia Sanchez, owner of OhSoPinteresting.com, explains, "I like to comparison shop to save money. Before the Internet and search engines, that meant going from store to store looking for the best deal. If you had extreme patience, you could try calling around to all the different stores that sold the item you wanted to purchase and hope you got connected to a person who could assist you. Now, with online shopping, it's much easier to comparison shop and even check prices all over the globe in seconds."
She continues, "If you're not ready to push that 'buy it now' button today, how can you easily keep track of where the best deals can be found from your search? A simple answer is Pinterest. Create a board just for the item you have in mind. Add a few pins from different websites where you may buy the item, you will have an easy to reference, visual comparison shopping list."
3. Get into the no-pressure zone.
Stephanie Halligan of the EmpoweredDollar.com helps millennials figure out how to manage their money. She believes you should take peer pressure out of the equation when making buying decisions. "It's really challenging to exercise self-control when you feel compelled to buy. Whether you're shopping with your friends at the mall and you feel obligated to buy something or you see an irresistible sale that has you grabbing for your wallet, exercising a little patience could go a long way in helping you save money. Pausing even for a few moments before you buy something can help you curb impulse purchases and save money."
She also recommends thinking big picture. As satisfying as it is to spend that $10 on fast food with your friends, that money can add up quickly. Think bigger with your money beyond today. Imagine what you could do with a few of those $10 bills. Having $100 in your bank account instead of a bunch of fast food wrappers opens up a world of opportunities for you.
Karen Cordaway is a teacher, website owner and writer who currently teaches personal finance to children.
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