We tell our kids to be smart shoppers, then we go out and blow money we never meant to spend. We don’t walk the talk, and they know it.
If you want kids to be good about managing their money, you not only have to give them some (an allowance) and set some expectations (save), you have to demonstrate positive money management behaviours they can emulate.
Stop shopping as entertainment
It may be tempting to bundle the kids up and head to the mall where you can walk and talk and eat and shop and stay warm or cool, depending on the season, while ensuring a good night’s sleep. Don’t.
When heading to the mall is considered a family outing, the message you send your kids is that shopping is a form of entertainment. Head to the gym, the park, or an indoor playground instead. Pack your own snacks and I guarantee it’ll cost less than a day at the mall.
Tell your kids to ask you why you’re buying something
Encourage them by offering up to 25¢ per shopping trip for asking you a question about shopping. What you want to do is open the conversation and start educating them on your thinking as you shop. And you want them to get into the habit of asking you about things they don’t understand.
Always compare prices
You can turn this into a savings game with your kids. When you’re comparing prices, you’re looking for ways to save. Have kids keep track of how much you’ve saved and add it to your “savings” jar at home, perhaps for your vacation fund or for a special weekend of treats for the kids.
Don’t buy lottery tickets
If you’re a saver and have a plan for the future, you don’t need the lottery. When you buy lottery tickets you’re telling your kids you’re hoping for a big windfall; you’re not in charge of building your own long-term savings. It’s the wrong message to send.