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Raising Smart Shoppers
July 25, 2013, 10:32 am
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Using real-life money situations is a great way to teach your kids how to handle money in the right and suitable manner. Taking kids along when you go shopping or to do other errands are opportunities to teach them effective shopping strategies, value of comparative shopping and to reinforce good consumer buying habits.

Use coupons: Kids, especially the younger ones, are interested in those colorful fliers that come with the newspaper. You can also find great deals on the internet. Just search for the sites of major local retail outlets and you will be amazed at the deals on offer. Give kids the responsibility of finding coupons and deals the family can use with these guidelines: The item needs to be something the family uses or, if a new item, will try. Clipping a coupon for dog food when you have goldfish is not useful. Stick with food items you use regularly. The notion of saving money on food purchases helps engender an understanding of the cost of feeding a family. When you get to the store, involve older children in making decisions about which item on sale offers the best discount deal. With some items, using the discount is a good bargain, but not so much when you have to travel a long distance and the rest of the items on your grocery list are expensive.

Shopping Game: This game is designed to teach older kids the basics of budgeting and comparison-shopping. Your kids will need a pad, pencil and calculator. At the beginning of each aisle in the grocery store, assign an item and a budget. At the end of the shopping trip, tally up the budget and the actual cost of the products. Your child gets to keep the difference, if she has saved you money. This is also a good time to teach your children about generic products. Buying generics is not always the best buy based on either price or quality. Your kids may need to "product test" them at home to compare generics with brand items. If your children under-run their budget —but with products that are not acceptable to you —they do not get the savings.

Buying big ticket items: For items like furniture, expensive electronics, a car or other big purchases, consider having a family discussion in addition to online research and reading consumer articles. When you and your children go to a retail establishment to look at the item, you will likely compare it to more and less expensive items and make a buying decision — or not. Often you will find yourself in a situation where you are standing in front of an array of similar products, trying to determine which one to purchase. When you find similar, but not identical products, teach your children to read the labels of both products and then make a determination as to which one best matches your needs. 

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