Kids want so many things, from the latest toys and video games to trendy clothes and sports equipment. But though the universe of things to buy is unlimited, money is not. So kids need to learn how to spend their limited resources wisely. Here are five ways that you can help your kids see that by shopping smart, they can get more for their money.
Some of the best things are free
Kids can enjoy some of the items on their wish list for no money at all. Books, movies and even many video games can be borrowed from the local library for free. Naturally, the item has to be returned on time to avoid late fees, and your child won’t be able to keep it forever. But chances are, when it’s due back, your child will be ready to move on to something else.
Bartering can be a win-win
From the “grass is always greener” file, sometimes kids only become interested in a toy because their friend has it. Your child may love playing with his friend’s remote-control wall-climbing car and want one of his own, but it may be beyond his budget. However, maybe your child can interest his friend in a trade. After all, it’s possible (and even likely) that the friend has taken an interest in one of your child’s toys – one that your child has tired of playing with. By bartering, the children can each get a “new” toy and no one has to spend a dime.
Comparison shop online
It’s amazing how much prices for the same toy can vary from store to store. Say your child wants a particular scooter. Sit with your child at the computer and compare prices for the scooter on five or more websites, and make a chart with the prices, including shipping charges. You can also show your child how to look for coupons, either online or in your local newspaper, which may bring the price down even further than the lowest one on your chart.
Talk to your kids about loyalty or rewards programs, which many stores and manufacturers – including toy and video game companies – offer to encourage more frequent business from customers. If your child likes a lot of the things that are available from a particular store or company, she may be able to earn free toys or other merchandise by joining the loyalty program and making all her purchases from that company. In addition to free items, rewards programs usually offer coupons and discounts, as well. However, beware that some rewards programs have fees.
Wait for prices to drop
If your child wants something, he may find it hard to wait. But you can show him that patient shoppers get the savings. Video game prices, for instance, often drop considerably, sometimes only weeks after the game’s release. And once a new version of an electronic product comes out, it’s not uncommon for the prior version’s price tag to nosedive. By waiting till the end of a season or the following season, you can often get many things on sale. For instance, toy prices always drop right after Christmas, and you can get steep discounts on beach toys and summer clothes if you wait till the second half of summer to buy them.
By teaching your kids to become smart shoppers, you will help them learn a valuable skill that they can use their whole lives.