Every year, we try to somehow involve our kids in back-to-school shopping.
When Maddy, Owen, and Cora were emerging readers, I created easy-to-read lists that we’d take on our shopping trips.
The lists combined words and pictures so that they could more easily find what they needed.
As the kids got older, we worked together to find the best places to shop, using the coupons and sales circulars to figure out the best deals.
This year, we tried something new.
I knew that the kids needed more of a reason to plan and shop, and I knew that money is always a push for them.
And, admittedly, we’ve slacked on our Gem Jars this summer.
So what we did forced our kids into becoming smart and savvy shoppers, and it also encouraged more ‘shopping at home’.
All kids agreed that they want to do our school supply shopping this way every year. So I’ll count that as a win in my book.
Here’s the skinny. . .
School Supply Shopping: Our NEW Way to Teach Kids to be Smart Consumers:
This year, I gave Maddy, Owen, and Cora a $40 budget.
And I said,
Okay, here’s the thing: I know we’ve been lax with Gem Jars this year, and I know we haven’t done anything with allowance.
Each of you has done a pretty decent job with chores, and we appreciate it.
So for school supply shopping this year, each of you has $40. And you have access to everything in our school supply drawer and everything in our house. And you have a ton of coupons and sales circulars to pick from.
Use whatever you want—and use the lists I’ve printed out from the school that tell you what you need.
And figure out the best way to use your money.
Remember that cheap is not always the best and that sometimes you pay a little more for quality.
And whatever money you have left after your shopping trip, you can keep.
Owen went nuts crazy. This is his thing—playing with numbers, looking at sales, and finding the best possible price.
He needs money for the snack bar at the pool, you know, and he knows that Mom and Dad don’t provide it.
So the kids used the planning sheet I created last year, and they got to work.
It was difficult for Cora—that I must say—and she gave up quickly.
I sat with her a bit and worked through some of the glitches, but she decided she was finished almost before she started.
Maddy and Owen worked pretty hard on theirs, Maddy roughly and Owen to the penny.
What was most awesome was that the kids shopped carefully in our house.
All these supplies? Yep. Found ’em in our house.
We had a few extra 3-ring binders from previous years along with a random mix of other supplies. They pieced them together where they could, and then they were ready to hit the stores.
We decided our first stop would be Target, so we took off late morning, each kid with his or her own shopping bag, list, and coupons.
I was surprised that when we got to the store, the kids went straight for the supplies and knew exactly what they were looking for.
For the most part, they stuck to their lists, though they did make some changes.
And even though Owen wanted to go to Office Depot for ten cent folders, I explained that his decision to buy plastic ones for $.47 was a wise one because they’d last much longer.
So they gathered.
And checked things off of their lists.
And they used coupons.
And they spent money.
And they saved money.
Only Cora had to break her second $20 bill, and they each pocketed quite a bit of money.
Then we headed to the Target Café for some lunch. And they each wanted a slushee, so they each bought one with their extra dinero. Yay!
Maddy and Cora were really into it in the end, too; in fact, they came home and had a design contest –who could arrange their school supplies in the most beautiful way. Not sure who won, though, because I think I was pretty much beat from all of our shopping. . .
It was a great little real-life lesson and a great day!
Want to grab the printable we used and try this yourself?
Click on the image below:
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