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Couponing with Kids: Get Them Involved

Couponing with small children can be challenging. Heck, even just regular shopping is difficult with kids! I have two young daughters, and I’ve definitely been “that customer” in the store on numerous occasions. You know, the haggard mom with the screaming kids, carrying the toddler under her arm like a football while dragging the tearful preschooler along reluctantly by the hand?

Yup, been there, done that.

However, through some trial and error, I learned that my kids don’t have to be dragged unwillingly along on shopping trips, crying and whining the whole time. They can actually become part of the whole experience. Sometimes, they even make life easier (yes, seriously)!

  • Explain what you’re doing. Couponing is not rocket science. My 5-year-old and 3-year-old quickly grasped the concept of what I was trying to do, once I took the time to explain it to them. “These are coupons. Coupons help Mommy and Daddy pay for things so that they don’t cost as much money. When we use coupons, we can afford more of the things we like.” Kids tend to be more cooperative when they have some clue what’s going on.
  • Send them on a mission. Once they understood that coupons helped us buy the things we needed, they made it their goal in life to track down more coupons, especially for products they liked. (“Look, Mom! I found a coupon for kid yogurt! Now can we buy some?”) My kids are now expert coupon-spotters. They draw my attention to circulars in stores, peelies on products, and tearpads on shelves. They have even been known to pull Catalinas out of the trash while I’m checking out (which I didn’t ask them to do, but since they already had them…)
  • Let them help clip coupons. Obviously, this doesn’t work for 2-year-olds, but my 5-year-old has enough control to clip coupons with her safety scissors. Sure, by the time she has gone through half an insert, I’ve finished 5 complete ones, but that’s half an insert I didn’t have to do, right? Plus, it helps her develop her motor skills, and at that age, kids still think cutting paper with scissors is a grand old time.
  • Give them the shopping list. My kids can’t read “Oral-B CrossAction Battery Powered Toothbrush,” but they can look at the picture on the coupon, look at the shelf in front of them, and point out what we’re trying to find. It helps that most times the product we are seeking is specially marked on the shelf anyway, so it’s not hard for them to find. Once they have found it, they love putting it in the cart and on the checkout counter (don’t ask me why).
  • Develop those math skills. Couponing lets kids use math in a practical setting. For my 3-year-old, I give her basic counting tasks: “I need to buy three boxes of tissues. Can you count three boxes for me?” My 5-year-old gets slightly more complex problems: “This jar of pickles is $1.35. This one is $1.50. Which one is cheaper?” Older children can figure out the price after coupon, price after rewards, or how much a doubled coupon will be worth.
  • Teach them to use coupons for their own purchases. When my hopeful daughter came up to me with $0.50 out of her piggy bank and asked me what she could buy with it, my pre-couponing self would have told her “not much.” But instead, we were able to look at the weekly circular and browse through my coupon binder, and we came up with several options for her. She was so proud of herself when she handed the cashier her quarters and her coupon, and not to mention, a very satisfied little girl when she walked out of the store with her big bag of chips!
  • Cute kids can soften up the cashier. My kids have charmed many a semi-reluctant cashier who probably would have been a fair bit pricklier had I come alone. This, of course, only works if the kids are behaving, but after getting them involved in the shopping trip, they most often make it to the checkout line still in good spirits. Bonus points if one of your children can explain to the cashier why using coupons is great! We ended a recent trip to the grocery store with the following monologue from my 5-year-old: “My mommy has to use coupons because we don’t have a lot of money, and coupons help her afford more things for our family, like food and toothpaste, and also fun treats for little girls like me! Isn’t that great? Aren’t coupons awesome?” And of course, after hearing her enthusiastic explanation in her tiny little voice, the cashier had to agree.

So if you have small children, don’t be afraid! Get them involved, bring them along, and before you know it, you’ll have some Krazy Kids!

This has been a guest post by Lauren from Brentwood, TN
Find out more about the KCL Contributor Network!

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29 thoughts on “Couponing with Kids: Get Them Involved”

  1. I actually bought a shopping cart from Melissa and Doug and my son loves it. He wanted one ever since I had taken him to Trader Joes when he was 2 (now 4) I keep it in the trunk when I need to run out and he wanted his own coupon binder. It only has (2) categories (his recommendation) candy and toys.

  2. Brittany Lakomiak says:

    What do you do with a VERY active 2 year old when you shop? I’ve tried almost all of the things in this article (some I can’t cause my child is simply not old enough) and nothing will make her just sit still & let me shop. She’s gotta push the cart, run a few laps around the store, take stuff off shelves, throw multiple tantrums..etc. I try my hardest to control the situation but seriously, I have an energizer bunny on my hands..anyone have any advice?!

    • Anonymous says:

      have you tried making sure she has had time to run and get out some of that energy before you head to the store I know when my son was that age we had to play hard and then head out shopping, I also found that as long as he knew he had to stay in the cart (used one of the shopping cart covers) and I never broke and let him out it was a much better experience for both of us. Then I did bring snacks and books to keep him busy and we played eye spy a lot while shopping. I also know my friend who had a very active little girl used to put her in her ergo carrier while shopping she liked to be close to momma and then she could plan shopping trips at nap time since kids can nap while in a carrier! sorry I rambled hope this helps

      • Brittany Lakomiak says:

        no no thank you so much for the advice! I’m definitely going to try running around outside for a while BEFORE we go shopping haha and the ispy thing..those are great ideas thank you!

  3. oh ya i have to mention this cuz it was so cute, my 7 yr old recently saw me printing coupons, he’s like mommy do people really fall for that? i go fall for what? he goes because you are making coupons do they really think they are real? LMBO so i had to explain how printed coupons work, he know understands it :) thought you’d all get a kick outta that :)

  4. my kids help me all the time, cut sort, and go to the store, they are 7 (boy) 6 (girl) 5(girl) and almost 3 (boy) and the 5 month old little girl has to have her own while we are shopping or its not a fun trip…lol I recently had to buy them thier own coupon organizers….lol My 3 yr old is so cute he’s like *my expired coupons mommy*(thats all he gets) I am completly proud of them, they even tell thier friends at school about it…

  5. My little girl wanted deodarant and I had a $1 off coupon at Kroger’s…well this week Suave deodarant is included in their 10 for $10 and I had her pay for it with the coupon and she only had to pay .07!! She said she felt like a big girl paying for it on her own with a coupon!!!

  6. My 2 older kids( 12 & 10) LOVE to coupon. They are addicted to getting free stuff! :) They argue over who gets to look at the sale ads first!! LOL!
    As my daughter would say…
    ” You should be embarrassed if you’re NOT saving money!. :)

  7. micheller says:

    My husband is military so he’s gone most of the time and I have no family nearby so I take all 4 of my kids (ages 5, 3, 1, and 5 mo!!!) with me. We have good days and bad days. Ususally I end up pushing the 1 yr old and 5 month old in a double stroller and the 5 and 3 yr olds handle the cart. it keeps them busy and helps me out!

  8. I have a wonderful “almost 5″ year old boy. Hes a Mama’s boy and goes to the store with me as often as I will let him. He doesnt handle the “browsing” trips as well as the “have a strict plan” trips, but he knows a BOGOF sign and a $2 for $4 sign, he helps me cut coupons, he finds endless amounts of Blinkies and peelies for me and knows that if I dont have a coupon, that the product is NOT going in the cart. He even gets up early on Sunday mornings to “keep me company” while I am cutting coupons. I give him the Wags, CVS and Target ads for him to look through and he tells me whats on sale. God Bless him!

  9. Amy Schmidt says:

    I let my 4 yr old daughter cut out coupons that I print off line as we shop. (Works those fine motor skills). I also give her coupons on the isle and tell her to find the match for me. Thanks for the tips so I can give her more to do. My son thinks I’m made of toy coupons and asks if I have one for every toy he sees! haha.

  10. Anonymous says:

    I have involved my 9 year old. She now is so excited to go our our trips and has a real eye for it! I have triplets, so each dime counts! Since she helps to clip everything, she knows what is in the binder and what is a deal. Can’t wait to see what she finds next trip!

  11. Anonymous says:

    My big kids (14-10) dumpster dive for me. They get all the coupon inserts I need and we organize the coupons at home together when we get back. I only take one kid w/ me when I go couponing– that’s our 1:1 time together. They love it!

  12. BusyJulie says:

    My 9-year-old daughter loves to cut out the coupons and remove the expired ones from my binder. She and her 7-year-old sister both know “coupons are money” is one of my favorite sayings!

  13. My 7 yr old son does not like to coupon with me. I tried getting him to help me clip, that didn’t work out. Tried to get him to hold the list which turned in to him just crossing things off the list, which still didn’t work out (some things were missed and he whined the whole time). Try to butter up the cashier, he tells them “My mom is crazy! She going to give you a lot of coupons” which is followed with a usually death look from the cashier. His job has come down to only unloading the car. You would think he was a teen.

    • Anonymous says:

      I have a 7year old son too he wasn’t so sold on coupons until he started to see how many more things he wanted I could get by saving money on things with coupons now he gets mad when I clip without him. When I shop while he’s at school he always wants to know how much I saved that day and what I got. Its turned into a game for both of us.

  14. My son is now 2 1/2 and my daughter’s 9 months old. I’ve couponed with them always and don’t know any other way. When my son was 18 months old he found his first peelie and said “money mommy”. So now that he’s older he collects all of the coupons he can find, puts them in his pocket, then when we get up to the register he tries to pay with his “money” even though it doesn’t match what I bought!! But I figure it’s a good first step to teaching my children how to be frugal and save money!

  15. Kime' Braden says:

    I took my almost 4 yr old on a mission yesterday to score some free cheese nips. Gave her my store loyalty card and coupons so she could be the coupon lady. She gave the cashier my card then gave her the coupons. Well as we go out the store she starts crying b/c the cashier took her coupons and didn’t give them back. LOL I had to then explain that is what they are suppose to do. When they play grocery store at home she gets her coupons back. LOL

  16. Meghan says:

    Can someone share the link with me that has the list of items and their stockpile price that was posted months and months ago? It was the larger list of items… I thought I saved it somewhere but can’t find it now…
    Any help anyone?

  17. Anonymous says:

    I really so can relate, it`s a challenge always everytime I shop with my 22month old son. Every shopping trip should be organize, have a checklist and my coupons ready. I always bring him toys, milk, juice and snacks to make him busy, but this won’t take long so I’m always in a hurry when doing my shopping. But when we’re done, I tell myself, I survived!:-)

  18. My 5 year old son is always getting the blinkie coupons for me. If I tell him that we can’t buy something, his reply is usually “because we don’t have a coupon for it?”. Not sure if that says that I’m a “coupon junkie” or what, but hey, if I can teach him to save a few $$ at that young of an age, then I consider it a job well done. I tell him that we can splurge on him a little more because of the $$ that we save in other places, so he can relate to it that way.

  19. My three year old will say, “When we lose coupons, we lose money!” When he asks why he can have something, I tell him that I don’t have a coupon for it. His reply is always, “So that means it’s expensive!” So funny! He also really likes it when I clean out all of the expired from my binder because then they’re “his coupons”. Gotta love little kids!

  20. My teenagers are a BIG pain in the rump. Are we done yet, mom people are looking at us. I will park them at the nearest bench or table and be back. lol

    • Kacey Betau says:

      My 12 year old was the same one until one day she came to me in need of body wash. I went to my “stash” and pulled out three different kinds. I let her smell them and decide which one she wanted. After she picked she ran to her dad and said, “It’s like going shopping in your closet!” I told her that most of the items in there cost little to nothing thanks to coupons. Now when ever she has to go with me I walk out of the store with all kids of coupons that she had found while I shop. Grocery shopping is still not her favorite activity but at least I am not getting the eye rolling any more. :)

  21. Storm Fuchs says:

    My 7 yo son loves couponing with me. When he sees me on the computer looking for coupons he says “yea coupons!!” He even has his own coupons stored in his bank, and when he knows we are going to town he will pull some money and a coupon so he can get his own goodies. He is always pointing out coupons to me. He is a wonderful helper.

  22. not necessarily coupon related.. however.. I CRINGE at having to bring my 4 year old son in the store… he is and has always been one of those terrible kids you overhear other people complaining about (of course it doesn’t make me love him any less… just makes me plan shopping trips without him) BUT one day I HAD to take him to Wal Mart with me… I normally don’t buy corn at wal mart but knew that it was in the produce section obviously… I went around and around and could not find the corn… I finally said.. “Well, I guess they don’t have corn!!” and my 4 year old (who amazingly enough was being good) points finger and says “There it is mommy Right there!” LOL

  23. A. S. says:

    Hahahahaha! So true! When your two year old says “Coupons save money! Yay!”, it just does something to cashiers..