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Teach Kids to be Savvy Spenders in 5 Steps

Updated: Feb 8, 2023


If you’ve been that parent who’s stood in the middle of a shopping centre, gingerly smiling at other shoppers walking by, as your child screams loudly and uncontrollably (having a mega meltdown) because you’ve said “no” to their request (a.k.a. demand) to buy them something new, then this blog post is for you. It’s also for any grandparents, carers, aunts, uncles, friends, teachers, or soon-to-be parents... basically, anyone who goes to the shops with kids.

You see, I’ve been that parent - I think most people who’ve ventured into the shops with kids to run a quick errand or do the food shopping, have experienced a version of it, in one form or another.

It’s not a pleasant experience, for anyone involved. Often, you’re left feeling annoyed, embarrassed, and drained.

Your child is left upset and unfulfilled.

And other shoppers are bewildered or amused – I’ve had grandma’s give me the most generous and knowing smiles mid-child-meltdown (thank you grandmas for your kind gesture!)

So, how do you find a happy middle?

Where kids get what they want (and don’t turn into brats), and you don’t feel exasperated or experience parent-guilt (and your bank account doesn’t suffer)?

Cue my 5-Step Spending Plan for Kids!

Over the years, we’ve found this exercise helpful with our kids (who are now 3 and 5 years old). We started doing this when our son was 2.5 years old, and an avid Paw Patrol lover.

In fact, this exercise is awesome! Since we’ve been doing it, we haven’t experienced a tantrum at the shops, and the process is now second nature for our kids.

So, if you’re wanting to kiss shop-tantrums goodbye, try following these steps with your kid(s):

1. Identify Before you go to the shops, have your kids identify what they want the buy. Perhaps they’ve seen something on TV, in a magazine, or know they’ll feel hungry at the checkouts because whenever they see a Kinder Surprise their tummy grumbles. Ask them to be specific and identify one thing that they really, really want. Note: you don’t have to do this before every shop visit. We would generally only do it before going to shops where we knew the kids would see toys – toys were often the tantrum triggers.

2. Research Once they’ve identified what they want, jump online, and teach them how to research what they’re after. Type into google the item they want to buy and research where they can buy it from, and how much it costs. Let them compare prices from different retailers and see if they can find it on sale. It’s a great opportunity for them to learn how to be resourceful, compare, find the best retailer and deals, and make decisions. It also tells them how much the item costs – creating a spending limit, or a savings target to work towards if they don’t already have those funds available.

3. Count Coins Now they know how much the item costs, it’s time to count how much money they have available to put towards their purchase. Get them to grab their spending money jar / piggy bank / bank account (whatever system you use) and add up how much money they have. This will help them to become familiar with the different coins and notes – shapes, colours, numbers, and it also makes counting and maths fun! If they are younger, help them out by letting them know how much money they have. Tell them if it’s sufficient, or if they need to save up some more.

4. Plan or Book If they don’t have enough money right now, not a problem! Share with them the opportunity they have to earn more money to reach their target and help them create a plan for how they’re going to do that. Can they earn money helping you wash the cars, cleaning the house, walking the dog? And how long will it take them to earn the remaining money needed? Assist them in formulating their plan and encourage them to go after their savings goal. Then book a day in the calendar for when they expect they’ll reach their target amount by and be able to go to the shops. Marking a date in the calendar will give them something to work towards and look forward to. Note: if they’ve already got enough money, you can head straight to the shops that day or book another date to go with them later.

Shop and Celebrate!

Once they’ve reached their savings target, be sure to acknowledge them for how well they’ve done – in being resourceful and disciplined to get the funds they needed together.

Before heading to the shops, get them set up with their own wallet. Count all the money to make sure it’s all there and let them get excited while loading it into their wallet.

When you get to the shops, ramp up the excitement levels and let them grab and pay for the item they’ve worked so hard for themselves. You can encourage them to get the receipt while they’re at it too – another opportunity to teach them something else about money. You can explain to them what a receipt is, the purpose of it, and what they may need it for). Then once they have bought it, celebrate with them! They worked hard, were savvy with their spending money, and got what they wanted – YAY!

This 5-step process is effective (our kids love it!) and it’s a great exercise to teach kids not only a fundamental money lesson (how to spend money), but also important life skills.

I love this savvy spending plan because it teaches kids:

· Goal setting skills – how to identify what they want

· Delayed gratification and how to be disciplined

· How to stay motivated and work towards something that is important to them

· How to be resourceful and research - finding key information they need to make decisions

· Money management skills – how to save money and spend money wisely

· And how to celebrate their achievements!!

What’s more, that can all be done in 5 simple steps – and can take as little as 5 to 10 minutes to complete. That’s pretty cool!

I hope you and your kids find this savvy spending plan as helpful as we have (and hopefully you’ll be saying bye-bye to shop-tantrums forever too!!)

If you have found this blog post helpful, share it with a fellow parent who would find it helpful too. Or let me know how your child’s savvy spending experiences went and shoot me an email sharing how they went and what they learnt.

Until next time, happy shopping, Savvy Spenders 😊

Jaleesa x


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