Earlier this month I was invited to read Beth Kobliner's book Make Your Kid a Money Genius (Even If You’re Not) in order to share my experience with my readers. It turns out that the book was really great and it inspired me to get my kids involved in this year’s $25/week budgeting challenge. Beth’s book reiterated my belief that setting and sticking to a strict budget should involve the entire family!
Her book was jammed packed with insightful and easy to understand budget advice, and demonstrated how you to teach budgeting skills to kids of ANY age. They are never too young nor too old. It was just the boost I needed to bring my kids into my budget challenge!
The book was broken down by age group, with age appropriate activities and teachable moments for kids (and their parents). It was a really easy read, without a lot of financial jargon. There was actually a lot of advice that I found surprising (did you know that an allowance may NOT be a great way to teach kids about money?) I definitely came away inspired to be a better financial teacher and model to my kids! (Find out more about the book at the bottom of this post.)
One of my favorite take away messages was that we should be using our real life experiences to teach kids about making smart budget choices, and for me, one of those places is the GROCERY STORE! No matter how old your kids (Mine run in age from 3-11) you can create learning moments at the grocery store.
Just like Beth’s book, I have broken down my suggested lessons by age range. Keep in mind these age guidelines are only suggestions. You know your child best and can best decide what you child is capable of understanding.
Hands On Ways To Teach Kids Budgeting Skills at the Grocery Store
Ages 4 and Under:
"How many apples am I putting in the bag?”
“This box has 6 granola bars. Let’s count them!"
"We need to buy these items, can you help me find them?”
Create a visual (drawing based) shopping list for your child to shop with.
Making healthy choices:
“Which is a healthier snack? Cookies or Apples?” “Let’s pick something green to eat with our dinner!"
Whole number addition and subtraction:
“If we buy 3 apples and 4 oranges how much fruit do we have all together?”
“This cereal cost $4 and our budget is $10, how much money will we have leftover?"
Greater than/Less Than:
“Which item costs more?"
“Do we have enough money to buy this?”
Introduction to currencyIdentifying bills/coins and their value.
“If we give the cashier this much money, should we expect change?”
Introduction to price per unit:
“How many apples do we need for a pound?”
“Which is more: This large 8 oz box or this smaller 10 oz box?”
“Which costs more: 2 quarts of milk or a half gallon?”
Understanding Wants vs. Needs:
“If we could only buy one, should we pick candy or milk?”
“Lets prioritize our shopping list. Which items do we have to get? Which items would be nice to have?”
“We can buy one dessert item. What should would you choose?"
“Let’s keep a running tally of the cost of items in our cart?"
Allow your child to pay with cash and make sure they get the correct change.
“If each can costs $0.79 how much will 4 cans cost?”
“If these are ‘Buy Two, Get One Free’ how much does each one cost?”
Understanding value:"Which is a better deal? $0.89 for one or 5 for $4?"
“Should we get the 10 oz can for $2.99 or the 12 oz can for $3.50?”
“This item is on sale this week. How much are we saving?”
Understanding cost per unit: “Lets calculate the cost of these two cereals per ounce.”
“How much does this toilet paper cost per sheet? Is a double roll actually twice as many sheets?”
“Why is filet mignon more expensive than ground beef?”
Comparing brand names vs. generics:“The Blue Brand is $1.99 a box and the Red Brand is $3.50. Why does one cost more? Is it worth the difference?”
“I’ve seen commercials on TV for this brand, but this one is named after the store. Why is that?”
Buy a name brand item and its generic equivalent. Have a taste test to compare them.
Introduction to meal planning: “Let’s research recipes and make a shopping list”
“We need to make 5 servings of this meal, how much of this ingredient will we need?”
“Our dinner should have a protein, starch and vegetable, how can we accomplish this balance?"
Introduction to nutrition:
"How many servings is this bag of cookies? Is that reasonable?"
“What other ingredients are in this canned fruit? How can we get this fruit without those things?”
“Lets compare these packets of oatmeal to this canister of rolled oats.”
Understanding the cost of waste:
“We threw away a bag of rotten lettuce and a half gallon of expired milk. How much did that cost us?”
“If we buy the largest size sour cream, but don’t use half of it, is it actually a better deal?”
Meal planning on a budget:
“Here is a list of everything we need for dinner, let's figure out how much it will cost.”
“What is your favorite restaurant meal? How much will it cost to prepare it at home?”
“Which do you think would cost more: A spaghetti dinner or surf and turf? Why?”
“What are some most affordable protein sources?
Introduction to credit cards/debt:
“What happens if I put our bill on my credit card?”
“Why can’t I just buy anything I want and charge it?”
“If you earn $12 an hour, how long would you have to work to buy this?"
Understanding the cost of convenience:
“This pre-washed salad is $2.99 and this head of lettuce is $1.99. Is it worth the difference?”
“Why do individual bags of chips cost more than one large bag?”
“This TV dinner is chicken nuggets, mashed potatoes and a brownie. How much would it cost to make it?”
“Which is a less expensive per cup? Coffee in these coffee pods or this bag of ground coffee?
“Sugary cereal is $1.99 a box and granola is $4.99 a box. Even though one is cheaper, is it a better deal nutritionally?”
“We can buy canned, frozen or fresh green beans. Are there price differences? Are there nutritional differences?”
“Why is the store laid out this way? Why are the healthiest options around the perimeter? How can we avoid impulse shopping?”
Calculating tax/interest/credit:“If we put this on a credit card at 10% how much extra would we need to pay?”
“If tax is 7%, how much will our total be?”
“If you earn $12/hour and income tax is 22%, how long would you have to work to pay for $100 of groceries."
Understanding the cost of nutrition:
“We can get a 12-pack of soda for $3 or a gallon of milk for $3.99. Which is a better budgetary choice?”
“Why are organic products more expensive?”
“This 100% maple syrup is $12.99. This pancake syrup is $2.99 and contains corn syrup. Is there a difference?"
Advanced meal planning/budgeting:
“Let’s come up with a healthy balanced meal for 4 that costs no more than $5 per person.”
“We originally budgeted $10 for this ingredient, but it is more expensive than we thought. What can we do to stay on budget?”
“The following items are on sale this week. How could we plan a meal around them?”
Make Your Kid A Money Genius (Even If You’re Not) is written by bestselling author Beth Kobliner and is based not he latest research from the fields of psychology, child development and behavioral economics. It is now available on Amazon. This post was written by me on behalf of The Beth Kobliner LLC. The opinions are my own.