1. Help them see savings in action
When I told my daughter that I could buy a single instant oatmeal container at the convenience store for the same exact price I paid for a bag of high quality oats on clearance (9+ servings), I saw a lightbulb go on in her head. She’s been very excited about my deals, especially the freebies, ever since. Here are some ways to involve your kids with saving money:
- Taking the kids to the grocery store? Let them help make the list and organize the coupons. Help them see that a little bit of planning can save a lot of money. Ask them for suggestions about ways to save more.
- Show the difference in cost between similar choices, such as sale and coupon items versus regularly-priced items or brand name versus generic. Even young kids can easily understand that you could buy two items for the same price as a more expensive option.
- If they’re old enough, encourage the kids to practice their math skills to figure out real-life word problems. How much are you saving on a deal? What is the cost per item? Which item is healthier (has less sugar or sodium)?
2. Help them learn to make good choices with money
Kids often want you to “buy, buy, buy” things for them, but when you ask them to spend their own money, they balk. Show them ways to make money stretch – whether it is your grocery budget, a new vehicle, or their allowance. Keeping more of your money is a great lesson to learn at a young age.
- Offer to help your kids find sales, coupons, consignments, Craigslist ads or other more reasonable options for the things on their wish lists. Encourage them to keep open minds. For example, if they want a tablet, does it have to be an iPad? How about a refurbished model for at least 15 percent less? What about other brands? Help your kids understand that the brand name is less important than the features and value offered.
- If your kid wants a particular (expensive) brand of food or clothing, tell them you’ll pay for the basic version and they can pay the cost to upgrade. This may help them decide that the basic version is good enough, or it may inspire them to set aside money for something they truly want.
- Look for fun low-cost or free activities for your family to enjoy. Concerts, pick-your-own produce, picnics in the park, hiking and special local events are just a few of countless other options. Stores like Lowe’s, Home Depot and Michaels offer free make-and-take activities. Check your local newspaper or Cities on the Cheap for more information.
3. Show your kids how to get more bang for the buck
Do you have a budget set for birthdays or Christmas? I love the challenge of finding a perfect gift at a great price, like the American Girl mini-doll and book set and related girl-sized outfit I found for my daughter for less than 30 percent of their retail values. I was so excited about her opening the gift – and she was thrilled. We’ve enjoyed half-price play and concert tickets and free blueberry picking. Keep in mind:
- You don’t need to lower your standards; getting a great deal doesn’t mean accepting poor quality. However, it may take time, so start looking early.
- Keep your eye out for great group couponing deals in advance; many of them are good for six months or more. Just make sure you use them before they expire! FamGrab is a great resource that consolidates family-friendly group couponing deals.
- With sales, consignment or thrift shops, warehouse stores and group couponing sites, you can receive many times the value of your budget.
Put in a little effort to help your kids climb on the bargain bandwagon, and you’ll reward yourself and your family many times over!
This is a guest post by Joanne from Lawrenceville, GA
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