Does your child want it all, all the time?

2020-12-22   minute read

Leah Drewcock

Lifestyle Debt

As wonderful as children are, sometimes it’s tough to shop with a little one who wants everything. The seemingly gravitational attraction to the latest toys — and inevitable, “mom can I have this? ­— can be exhausting and wear a parent down in no time.

It’s important to instill the value of a dollar in children from an early age. Below 12, most kids have little or no concept of money and how it really works. This is especially problematic in an increasingly cashless society where many children believe mommy and daddy’s magic card can buy anything. Unfortunately, we know that isn’t the case; and trying to keep on a budget with a needy child can be exhausting to say the least.

But fret not, following are some pointers to try on your next shopping trip. With any luck, they’ll help ease the tension of browsing the aisles with a child that wants it all — and perhaps help them learn something in the process.

Always shop with a list

Sit down with your child before your shopping trip and make a list of items you need to buy while you’re out. If your child asks for an item that’s not on the list, you can truthfully say as much and demonstrate prudence by not buying it today.

Look for the sale signs

Discuss with your child the concept of regular and discounted prices. While you’re shopping, point out the yellow, red, or brightly colored tags which indicate a sale. Make a game of it and see how many items from your list they can find on sale.

Put it in perspective

Frame your child’s request for high-priced items in terms of how long you would have to work to afford the purchase. For example, if your child is asking for a $90 toy, walk them through the math how long you would have to work to pay for the item.

If you make $15 per hour, you would have to work at least six hours — the better part of a day after taxes and commuting costs — to pay for the one item. Explain that you could either work the six hours or spend that time doing something fun with them and see which they choose. Chances are they will want your time, and eventually grow more empathetic to how hard you work to put a roof over their head and food on their table.

Estimation exercise

On the way to the store have, your child guess how much certain items on your shopping list will cost. When you arrive at the store, have your child find these items and see how close they come to their guess. Use this activity in a variety of stores like supermarkets, clothing stores, hardware stores, and more so they get a global picture of the cost of everyday goods.

Not only will this will keep kids engaged in the shopping process — it will also encourage them to seek the best possible price and put into perspective why its not possible to have everything they want.

Set the tone

Your children grow up quickly; sometimes too quickly it seems. It won’t be long before money is as much a focal point in their lives as it is yours. Helping them appreciate the value of a dollar and the power money can wield are two of the most important mindsets you can impart in your child.

Start these conversations early. Many parents fear corrupting their child’s innocence by introducing them to the stresses and anxieties of money. But kids are like sponges: they’ll either pick up on your positive example or the taboos you put on the topic. Keep them engaged in budgeting and the value of a dollar and they’ll thank you in the long run.

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