Money Skills: Shopping Trips With Children

Managing Your Money / Family Health

Taking children shopping is a great way to teach them skills that will help them manage their own money as they grow up.

They can learn: 

  • how to keep your money safe
  • ways to cut costs
  • how to resist buying extras that you don’t need.

Plan ahead

Shopping trips provide lots of real-life opportunities for your child to learn about the value of money. But let’s face it, they can be stressful. 

There’s a lot to juggle – from keeping them from wandering off and remembering what you need to buy to avoiding spending too much.

Planning ahead can give you the headspace you need to teach them a few simple money management skills once you’re out, without also having to deal with distractions you hadn’t planned for.

Sticking to the plan

When you get to the shops, remind them about the list and show them what you’re buying first. As you go round explain how the shop is laid out to get you to buy more.

Show them the tactics the supermarkets use to get you to buy things that aren’t on your list:

  • Essentials are spread out all over the store – you have to walk past lots of temptations to get to them.
  • Cheaper brands are down low with the most expensive products at eye level.
  • Children’s products are at their level.
  • Fruit and veg are often at the entrance as supermarkets make a big profit on these

Learning how to make money go further

You can show children how to make better decisions and help them to feel involved by asking them to find things on the shopping list. Encourage them to:

  • Check prices and find the cheapest item – this is a good opportunity to talk about which items you like to spend less on and which things you think are worth paying more for.
  • Find products aimed at children – get them to explain why they like it (this is a great way to talk about how marketing encourages people to spend more).
  • Spot special offers – you can explain it’s only a good deal if you need it. 

At the checkout

If they are getting tired by this point, letting them know how helpful they’ve been might avoid a tantrum. Even if they did get cross when they couldn’t have something, praise them for the times they stayed patient.

Involve them in checking out the shopping so they don’t get bored:

  • If you’re using cash, get your children to count out the money and pay. Older children can work out how much change you’ll get.
  • If you’re paying by card, explain where the money for this comes from.
  • Show them how you keep your cards and PINs safe. 

Shopping online 

When you shop online, even if children can’t see you using cash, you can explain that you’re doing the same things and making all the same decisions you would if you were at the shops. Talk them through what you’re doing, as you’re doing it.

You can:

  • Ask your child to compare prices and talk about which is the best value for money .
  • Spot special offers together but only buy them if you need them.
  • Click past the extra offers and products that are advertised after you’ve finished your shop. Explain that this is how the shop gets you to buy extra things you don’t need.

Shopping online also gives you the chance to explain how you can keep your digital money safe. You can show them the checkout and explain that you never share your card details with anyone — the information on your cards needs to be kept safe, just like real money. 

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