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Teaching kids to be smart shoppers

Saving money is an important lesson that you need to teach your kids. However, you also need to teach them about spending money. Responsible shopping is an essential life skill.

Mom and daughter toy shopping

Help your child become a smart shopper by teaching them about budgeting, price comparisons and other factors that go into buying decisions.

Staying within budget

From an early age, you want to teach your children that there isn’t an endless supply of money. Talk openly about how money is earned through labor, and that when we get paid we must take care of our basic needs first before saving money or spending on our wants.

Comparing prices

Teach your kids about comparison shopping. The grocery store is usually the best place to start because most markets these days display how much a product costs per ounce or other unit. This is a very easy way to compare prices between different brands. Also, get online and show them how to use shopping search engines to compare prices of clothing, toys and other items.

Considering quality

Be sure to explain to kids that cost isn’t always the only factor to consider when shopping. Discuss how to judge quality versus price. Talk about brand-name products compared to generic ones, and how to make sure that the higher price tag is actually reflecting better quality. Talk about purchasing durable products that will last, rather than cheap ones that will fall apart or wear out. In some cases paying extra money is worth it, while in other situations, the more inexpensive product is the best buy.

Shopping with cash

Your kids won’t be able to understand the true value of money if all they ever see is cards or checks. Try to shop with cash whenever you can. Explain to children how debit cards, credit cards and checking accounts work, and the money that backs them up. Discourage your children from getting into credit card debt when they get older by limiting your own credit card use. It’s best to only have one credit card with a low interest rate and use it for emergencies only. If you have a card that offers great rewards and low interest, you can use it regularly, but be sure to pay it off each month.

Avoiding impulse buys

Impulse buying can lead to overspending and ending up with a bunch of junk that you don’t need. Talk to your kids about avoiding impulse buys, shopping with a list and doing your research online ahead of time. Before buying anything, your child should ask himself, “Is this a want or a need? Is it worth the price? Will I really use it?” Talk about restraint and really thinking about what you are purchasing before you buy.


If you are taking your kids to the store, for the best experience for both of you, make sure they aren’t tired or hungry. By letting your child actively take part in the family shopping — whether at the grocery store, the mall or online — you can teach them smart shopping habits from a young age.

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