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Savvy Shopping Strategies for Kids

Kids are going to be shoppers for their entire lives, and they can learn how to be effective shoppers if you teach them. In this way, they'll get the biggest bang for their spending buck.

Financial Building Blocks

According to recent studies noted by the National Endowment for Financial Education, teenagers in the United States spend an average of $3,500 each year. Total teenage spending is more than $100 billion annually. How well children use their spending dollars depends in part on what they've been taught.

Piggybank on It

Making a list can also save time. The old expression “Time is money” means that saving time is a thing of value. This becomes truer as your child gets older and can use his precious time for better things than shopping.

Watch Your Step

According to Consumer Reports, kids online are being enticed by questionable sales practices to buy products through their home computers. If you're concerned about your young child's sales resistance, consider using software packages that block your child from objectionable sites.

Here are some actions that well-informed consumers typically use.

  • Make a shopping list. Have your child put down on paper the things he's looking for on a shopping outing. By listing purchasing targets, he's more likely to avoid spending money on nonessential (or non-budgeted) things and won't short on cash for the things he needs.
  • Become an informed consumer. Your child should learn about the things she's going to buy. For example, are the skates she's eyeing well-built? Have there been safety problems with that brand? Check out Zillions, the kid's magazine from Consumer Reports. Encourage your child to ask questions. Sales help in many stores aren't helpful at all and may even be rude to young customers, but as long as your child is well-behaved, she's entitled to help as much as any other customer. Don't let your child be intimidated into not asking for help with anything she wants to know about the merchandise in the store.
  • Do your homework for shopping. As with preparing for the next day's lessons in school, it's important to do prep work before going on a shopping expedition. Having a shopping list is only the starting point. Check out advertised sales for the items on the list. Compare the advertised prices to see which store offers the
  • better deal. It's not uncommon for stores to put the same items on sale in the same week. During a sale, that pair of running shoes may be cheaper at Macy's than at the Footlocker, or they may be even cheaper still at Kmart.
  • Be a bargain hunter. Saving money by buying sale items, using coupons, or shopping at outlet stores means that your child's dollar will go farther. If he goes to a movie matinee when tickets are half-price, he'll be able to go twice as often for the same cost. You can get a young child started on being bargain-hunter by involving him in supermarket coupons. Have him clip coupons from newspapers and ads. Have him select coupons that match items you've put on your shopping list. Bring him to the store and let him hunt for items that match the coupons he has put aside. Then show him the cash register tape displaying how much savings those coupons produced. In my A&P, the tape even shows a percentage of the total purchase. For example, if the total (before coupons) came to $100 and coupons amounted to $10, using coupons resulted in a 10 percent savings.
  • Save receipts. When your child buys something, she should learn to save the cash register receipt. There are two good reasons for doing so: It's necessary to have the receipt if she wants to return or exchange the item she's bought, and receipts serve as a record-keeping device. By adding up what's on the receipts she has collected for a month, your child can see how much she has spent in that time.

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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Money-Smart Kids © 1999 by Barbara Weltman. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit Amazon's web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


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