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Raising Smart Shoppers

Back-to-school shopping is the perfect opportunity to teach kids about sales, discounts and discipline. It can also put a serious dent in the family budget, but, as difficult as it can be on some wallets, there are great financial lessons waiting to be learned in that annual trip to the mall. This year, be sure to include your child in every aspect of the shopping experience, from budgeting to determining needs versus wants. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Create a budget together
Plan to sit down one night with your child to create a back-to-school budget. Let your child know exactly how much money can be spent. Stick to only the essential purchases, which requires us to...

Determine Needs vs. Wants
This is the perfect opportunity for kids to learn the difference between a “need” (a $2 folder) and a “want” (a $5 Jonas Brothers folder). Discuss the difference between the two items and whether the increase in price is worth it. Explain that, if they get the expensive item, they will have to cut back in other areas.

Comparison shop
Encourage your kids to look for sales, clip coupons and compare prices between stores. This will help curb impulse buys and encourage your child to become a savvy shopper.

Share the savings
If your child does a great job of shopping and actually comes in under budget, let them know that you’ll put a portion of the money they save in a savings account for something fun, like a video game or an iPod.

Remember, it’s always better to have discussions about money and purchasing limits at home, not in the department store where your child may be tempted to flex his or her vocal cords in disapproval. With just a little planning, this year’s back-to-school shopping experience can be a great way to spend quality time with your child, while also teaching a few valuable life lessons.

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