Teaching Kids About Money at the Grocery Store
Learning can take place anywhere. Some of the most impactful lessons I’ve taught my children have taken place far away from a desk or a computer. Learning in the moment or in a place where you can be immersed in a concept. One of the best places to do that is the grocery store.
Why is learning at the grocery store effective?
Immersing in a physical space to learn a concept helps make it stick. In fact, the Greeks and Romans employed the concept know as the Method of loci. As humans, even small humans, we understand and retain a concept better when we are surrounded by a concept. Gaining knowledge from a book in important, but immersion is a helpful tool you can use to empower your children’s learning journey, especially with personal finance. The great thing about it is the approach works with small children all the way up to teenagers.
“Children are great imitators. So give them something great to imitate.” – Anonymous
Find the price
We take this for granted, but finding the actual price is not always so easy!
Which item costs more or less?
Find the bigger number between two choices.
Is this item a need or a want?
This question/answer is very specific to your family but will pay off for years to come. Start off at a young age by teaching the distinction between cookies and quinoa.
Show the math for a discount
If an item is 10% off, ask your junior shopper to jot out the long hand version to determine the discounted price.
Compare unit prices
If you’re shopping for item that offers different sizes, take the opportunity to show your son or daughter how the price per pound, ounce, etc. is different for a given package size.
Find discounted items
Ask your shopping assistant to identify on sale items as you shop.
Ask an employee what items are on sale
Give your pupil the task to approach a store employee and ask about on-sale items. This may seem simple to you but approaching an adult to ask a money question is a learned skill.
Use a coupon
Teach your son or daughter about using coupons. You get a bonus points for teaching them to avoid buying something they don’t need just because there is a coupon.
Count coins or cash at the register
This might seem like another easy one to you, but counting money takes practice.
Validate correct change has been given and check the receipt
Show your young shopper how to double check a receipt and any change from the register
Talk about impulse purchases at the register and ask them to identify other ways the store encourages consumers to spend money
Consumerism and the ways big businesses compel us to buy stuff is rarely taught to kids. It’s incredibly important to help them understand when a person or persons is working influence spending habits.
Calculate sales tax
This is a good math exercise and a good reminder to account for taxes in the bottom line.
Make a budget before going to the store
Have your teen make a simple budget before leaving for the store. I recommend asking to write it down and then compare after the trip is over.
Find an example and talk about how buying in bulk works
This is an opportunity to talk about when a bulk buy may or may not save money.
Make an allotted dollar amount and let them put together dinner
Once your teenager masters some of these other skills, put them in charge of dinner one night. Give them an allotted amount to feed the family. Then task them with the shopping decisions and any cooking required.
Walk up to a store employee and ask for a discount on an item
Give your teen the task of walking up to an employee in the store and asking for a discount. If they get a no answer, they’ll be tougher in the future. If they get a yes, then learn the value of asking!
Talk about store brands vs. name brands
Discuss the difference between the store brand, name brand, and if you would buy one over the other.
Bonus: Free Worksheets for Learning at the Grocery Store
"Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it." Proverbs 22:6 ESV
The World is Your Classroom
Your child’s greatest teachers are Mom and Dad. Make it a point at the grocery store to learn together. The milk you buy at the store has an expiration date. A personal finance lesson will be with your son or daughter their entire life.
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