Kids tend to pick up habits from their parents and other adults around them. You work hard to make sure that you model good behavior for them, but you may not realize that this is especially important when it comes to teaching your child about finances. If you want your child to be fiscally responsible when they grow up, they need to see you being responsible with your money, and take their first financial steps with your guidance and support. By paying attention to how you handle money in front of them, and talking with them about money in developmentally appropriate ways, you can give them a strong foundation for financial success. Here are seven ways that you can teach your kids to be thrifty.
Lead by Example: Don’t go shopping unless you need something
The best way to keep yourself from spending money on something that you don’t truly need to simply to not put yourself in that situation. If you are in a store (or browsing online), you might see something while you are there that you really want, but don’t really need, and the temptation to buy it might be hard to overcome—especially if the item is on sale!
Small children have a hard time distinguishing between “want” and “need.” We’ve all seen toddler tantrums over a toy or candy bar that a child thinks they need when they really only want it. Curbing your own impulse purchases and talking about it with your child gives you a chance to teach them the difference between “want” and “need” when they’re not already emotionally invested in the purchase in question.
Lead by Example: Shop off-season sales
Shopping off-season can save your 50% or more on purchases. It is pretty obvious with holidays how much your save by waiting until the day after the holiday because everything goes on sale… and if you wait a few more days, the discount usually grows. But it’s not just holiday décor and candy, you can also get clothing and other goods off-season at a greatly reduced price. Stores are trying to clear items off the shelf to make room for the next group of seasonal goods, and if you are patient, you can get good quality merchandise at a deep discount.
Lead by Example: Comparison shop
Sometimes you just can’t wait for an off-season sale, or maybe you are looking for an item that rarely goes on sale, so now you need to get really savvy with your shopping and compare prices from different retailers. You know that different stores will offer different pricing for the same brand or comparable product, and now you can teach your child. If you are looking to purchase a big-ticket item like a large appliance, make sure to price the item online or go around to a few stores to make sure that you aren’t overpaying. When you comparison shop, some stores may price match, some may offer a discount when using a store credit card, or even some other type of in-store promotion. If your child is learning elementary-level math, comparison shopping is a great opportunity for them to apply their math skills to a real-world situation.
Lead by Example: Buy off brands
Name-brand isn’t always better. Often, you can find nearly the exact same product for a fraction of the price if you buy an off-brand or generic. We think of this mainly with food at the grocery store or even pharmaceuticals, but opting for an off-brand for clothing, appliances, or furniture can save you a ton of money. If your child is not a picky eater, you can introduce the idea with a fun “taste test” dinner of their favorite foods – chicken nuggets and macaroni are some good ones to start with.
First Steps: Have them use their own money to buy things
As fun as it is for kids to see the money in the piggy bank grow when they get it for their birthday or Christmas, you have to teach them how to spend it wisely, in addition to saving it. As adults, we don’t get to save all of the money we earn or receive as gifts, and then have someone else pay all of our bills, kids need to learn, that they can—and should—save some of the money they get, but that spending it is okay too. They need to know at a young age what it feels like to part with money when they make a decision to purchase something. This can also make the line between “want” and “need” a little clearer for kids too… if it’s their own money that they are spending, they might just decide that they don’t need it after all.
First Steps: Save up for something big
Just as kids need to learn how it feels to part with money to buy small items that they already have the money for, they can also learn a sense of accomplishment by be patient and saving up for a larger item that they want. In the fast-food, instant-gratification society that we live in, saving up to buy something doesn’t seem like the norm. It would be easier to just buy it now and pay it off later, right? But this teaches them to take on debt when they probably don’t need to. Learning to save up is a valuable lesson when it comes to reaching big goals in life—like saving up for a down payment on a home. Teaching your kids to be thrifty and responsible with their money is an investment that will pay off big time as they grow into adults.
PLEASE NOTE: The information being provided is strictly as a courtesy. When you link to any of these web-sites provided here, you are leaving this site. Our company makes no representation as to the completeness or accuracy of information provided at these sites. Nor is the company liable for any direct or indirect technical or system issues or any consequences arising out of your access to or your use of third-party technologies, sites, information and programs made available through this site.