Coaching kids to stretch a buck on spending

By getting your kids more involved with understanding money, many of us could not only reduce expenses but also help our children learn a life lesson. Here are some ways you can involve your kids.

  1. Coach your kids on the concept of budgeting. You might take a couple of dollar bills out of your wallet and explain that spending too much now means there may not be enough later for something else they want (say, a winter trip or summer camp)—a concept a schoolchild of any age can grasp.
  2. Set a budget that encourages them to plan. For example, some parents pay for all academic supplies, then provide each child $100 for other back-to-school needs. The kids are free to stretch the $100 using money they’ve earned or saved. If they’re alarmed about this budget, brainstorm with them about ways they can earn more. (See #5.)
  3. Help them inventory what they already have. Can they reuse backpacks or sports equipment? If there’s peer pressure to have something “new,” how about personalizing those possessions with stickers or stencils?
  4. Ask them to make a list of what they really need. Have their needs really changed? If new clothing is essential, can they mix in clothes from their closet later on?
  5. Hold a yard sale of outgrown or unneeded stuff to raise money. While you’ll probably want to oversee the sale, encourage your kids to get involved in the pricing, set-up, and selling. They’ll value the profits more, having worked for them.
  6. Avoid paying full retail. Start with discount stores and other nearby consignment shops. Teens who like to dress distinctively may find bargains at resale shops, outlet stores, and vintage clothing emporia. If you do need to buy “new,” peruse sale flyers and search for online coupons first. Above all, stick to your shopping list.
  7. Consider sharing with the less fortunate. Many communities have an organization that provides items to truly needy kids. If you come upon a great deal, buy a little extra and donate it. You won’t save money, but you’ll gain rewards of another kind. Your children will, too.

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