Tips for Shopping with Kids
I remember the wonderful days of shopping with my young daughter before she realized that buying things from the store was an option. Once she figured out we could buy things and take them home, I was often asked “Can we buy this?” while on errands. Between navigating those situations with my daughter, chatting with other moms on their strategies, and remembering some techniques my own parents used on me, I’ve got some tips for shopping with kids!
The shopping list can be a magical thing! Sometimes, a simple “it’s not on the list” can get my daughter to stop asking me to buy something. Also, the act of creating a list with your child before you go to the store can have multiple benefits:
- Involves your child in the planning of household shopping, which makes them feel included in the purchasing decisions
- Allows you to introduce the topic of budgeting and saving money in a natural way
- Sets expectations for what is going to be purchased ahead of time, which makes it easier to say no to most “spontaneous” purchases
Giving a Budget
When shopping with kids who are a little older (around age 8), you can give them a budget before going out and ultimately leaving purchases up to them (yes, seriously!). This can work for back to school shopping, shopping for a friend or family member’s birthday, dinner for that night, supplies for a school project… lots of things! You might not love what she decided to spend it on, but it probably doesn’t really matter. Plus, you’re giving her the ability to flex her spending muscle within a strict budget, and you’re building trust.
The Wish List
Daniel has talked about this before, and I’ve seen parents use this at the toy aisle in Target all the time! It’s such a simple concept, and it works for kids of all ages. Tell your child that you cannot buy the item now, but you’ll put it on a wish list for later. Some parents take a picture with their phones. Some parents will only defer to the list for birthdays/holidays, while others might choose to surprise their child with an item on their wish list from time-to-time.
Just Pick One
This is a good tactic for when we go to the dollar store. There are a few things I regularly buy at the dollar store and so I’ll go there a few times a year. It feels so easy to agree to buy things there because it’s inexpensive. Ultimately, I like to limit the number of things I buy for my daughter there because:
- Cheap goods aren’t earth-friendly
- I try to limit the actual number of things I bring into my home
- Many items from dollar stores aren’t safe
There are some good reasons to allow my daughter to pick just one item from the dollar store though, so I’ll let her add a few things to the basket as we walk through the store (and I remind her that she’ll be able to pick just one). Before we check out, I’ll let her pick an item and I like to sit back and observe. Sometimes I’ll prompt her with questions (“What do you like about this? How about that?” or “What will you use that for?”), and it’s so interesting to see her process. Admittedly, if she’s really torn between two items, I’ll buy more than one.
“We Choose Not to Spend Money for That Because…”
I think it’s totally okay to be honest with kids. “We choose to spend money on groceries / clothes / whatever, but not for toys right now because we had to fix the car/ buy something else / save.” We don’t want to cause stress for our children, but instead show them our thought process. We can’t buy everything we want, so we have to teach our kids how to choose the items that are most important to the family.
These are some of my tips for when I want to create a teaching moment from the “Can you buy this for me?” question. Sometimes though, it’s simply “not today” and then life goes on. Not every question needs to be a teaching moment – sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.
So, what are your best tips for shopping with kids? How are you teaching your kids about money? I’d love to hear! Please share in the comments below. If you know someone with kids who needs to talk to a money coach about their situation, please have them click here to schedule a complimentary consultation.