teaching your kids about money

Today’s post was written by Jacob, who blogs over at PowerOverLife.  In it, he shares some ways that parent’s can turn shopping into an important teaching opportunity for their children.  Enjoy!

My parents always took opportunities to teach my siblings and I about money…including at the store. Have you ever viewed a shopping trip as the perfect opportunity to teach your children about money?

If not, then keep reading!  I want to help you become a super mom or dad who teaches their children about money, the buying process, and the fact that you have to work hard to have the money you need to buy the families’ wants and needs.

Consider this a “lesson plan” if you will, and feel free to be creative and adjust it to your family’s needs and specific situation. Here are four steps to become a teacher as you shop.

Step #1 – Take Your Children Shopping with You

A lot of you take your kids shopping, but I want you to really “take” them. Don’t just pile them into the car and give them the tablet to play with in the store. Consider preparing them before you go by talking about these ideas:  Give them the heads up that you are going to have a lesson at the store today.
Ask that they pay attention and invite them to ask any questions that they may have.
Express the desire for them to not be distracted. Therefore, no toys and no electronics.

If you can prepare them in this manner, they will understand ahead of time that this won’t be a normal shopping trip. Of course it always helps to incentivize them in some way…so get creative!

Step #2 – Talk Your Children Through the Buying Experience

Next, talk your children through the buying experience. You can do this by talking through some or all of the following points.

Show them the list that you have. Why are you buying those items?  Explain that some of the items are needs, while some are wants.  Let them know that you have a budget for the shopping trip. Perhaps you have a specific amount for groceries or clothing each month so you are only spending ¼ or ½ of that today.

Perhaps you have a coupon for a specific item. Explain what coupons are and why you value them.
Explain the value of bulk purchases, if you are buying items in bulk.

These are just suggestions, so feel free to cater to the age group and your situation. Speak simply, no matter the age group and make sure to ask them if they understand or if they have any questions about it.

Step #3 – Explain The Purchasing Process

Once you are done talking them through the buying process and ready to checkout, take your cart up and before you pay, explain the following:

All of these items have to be paid for. We can’t just take them.  You and your spouse worked hard to make sure they had the money to pay for these items for the family.

Talk them through the difference between paying with cash and paying with a debit or credit card (be simple here).

Explain why you are paying in cash (more simple, don’t owe anyone) or by credit card (it’s convenient, we’ll pay the balance later, bonus points and benefits on the card).

If you do use a credit card, inform them that you will do a follow up to the lesson once the credit card bill comes. Make sure to keep the receipt to show them later.

Step #4 – Follow Up (Credit Card Only)

If you did use a credit card, then once the bill comes in the mail have a follow up lesson. Show them the bill that you now have to pay. Explain that the day you swiped your card, you became in debt to the credit card company, but now you want to get out of debt by paying that debt off. Show them the receipt to help them remember the experience.

Explain that you need to pay the credit card company, and then walk them through getting online and sending a payment to that company from your account. This will help them understand that when you swipe the card, you eventually have to send the money out of your account.


As you can see, there is more to the shopping experience than kids initially realize. Helping them understand why you are buying what you are buying, and why you are paying for it the way that you are will help them understand the buying and purchasing process a little better.

Kids are incredible at absorbing information; they really are just like sponges. As parents, it is our duty to make sure that we are providing the necessary teaching opportunities for them to absorb that information. One day, your children will appreciate that you took the time to help them understand the entire process. Hopefully they will have a better appreciation for money and how to use it more effectively.


Jacob Merkley is a full-time blogger who started in the accounting, financial, and retirement realms before switching to working online. Now he focuses on teaching others about Life Skills that put YOU in control, including the important principles of money management.  He blogs over at PowerOverLife.

Comments 3

    1. Post

      Hey Jacob, it’s great to have you and thanks for the post! I like your summary point, kids are like sponges, and they have a great capacity to learn. So often we say that when we’re concerned about them picking up negative influences or messages, but as parent’s we can install positive teaching of all kinds at an early age. Your post is a great reminder of this!

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