Shopping with children can be risky. They are either bored and restless or try filling your cart with things you don’t need. But last weekend, I invited my youngest daughter, Taylor, to join me on an afternoon of running errands and she agreed. As we buckled our seat belts, she asked me, “Mom, will you tell me how much we spend at each place?”
Surprised, I answered, “Of course, I will.”
Money conversations are not taboo in our home, obviously. Taylor knows I’m a financial advisor and was pretty tickled to see herself as a character in The Heavy Purse. So I took this as sign that we were going to have a good money talk today.
I needed to replace my favorite non-stick skillet, so our first stop was Sur La Table. As we entered the store, Taylor spotted a boldly colored decorative whisk, nearly as tall as she is.
Taylor was adamant that she needed that whisk so we took a look at the price tag. $300.
“Wow,” I said. “That’s a really nice whisk. How long do you think it will take you to earn enough money to buy it?”
“A good year and a half.” Taylor responded.
“That’s a long time,” I mused. “Do you think it’s worth it?”
Taylor assured me it was. I didn’t argue with her and we proceeded into the store to look at skillets. The store-brand skillet retailed for $100 but was on sale for $50. I compared it to a name-brand skillet but couldn’t see any differences beyond a higher retail price of $150. Taylor examined the two skillets and found no differences either, so we asked a salesperson. She agreed the only real difference was store-brand versus name-brand.
Taylor and I bought the store-brand skillet after we agreed a name-brand didn’t justify paying more for a skillet that was virtually the same. We then discussed how we could put that $100 savings to better use.
When we got back into the car, I asked, “What do you think about the whisk now? Do you still think it’s worth working a year and half for?”
She thought about for a moment. “I still like it. But if I have to work that long for something … maybe I’d rather spend my money at the American Girl Store.”
I smiled and we headed to the next store to pick up some pillows. Once again, Taylor and I compared cheaper pillows to more expensive pillows. After much discussion, we agreed to buy the more expensive pillows. We would have these pillows for many years, and they needed to be durable since we use our sofa every day. The cheaper pillows cost less today but would need to be replaced sooner, so in the end, they were actually the more expensive choice.
At the end of our shopping adventure, Taylor asked, “How much did we spend today, Mom?”
“$400! In one day!!” Taylor exclaimed.
“Yes,” I said. “It is expensive to feed and care for a family. But every time we bought something, we took our time to make sure we were making a smart decision that was within our budget—didn’t we?”
Taylor looked at the skillet, pillows, groceries and all the other items we purchased and slowly nodded her head in agreement.
“Do you still want the $300 whisk we saw at Sur La Table?” I asked.
“Well…” Taylor hesitated. “It’s nice but for $300 it can only sit in my room.”
Money conversations don’t need to complicated or sit down lectures. They can happen during impromptu shopping trips, where instead of making internal decisions, you talk out loud and let your children see how you make your choices. I want my daughter to learn how much it costs to care and feed for a family. To slow down and look at the options within her budget, then figure out which one provides the most value and greatest joy. To know that I do this every time I spend money.
I can still hear my father encouraging me to make an integrity or value-based decision when I’m confronted with a choice. I want my girls to hear my voice when they make decisions too, so I will continue having regular money conversations with them and not hide how we spend our family money. This is how they learn.
We pulled into our driveway and I turned to Taylor, “Thank you for coming with me today. You were such a great helper at making decisions.”
“You’re welcome!” Taylor replied. “I’ve changed my mind. I don’t want the whisk anymore. I’d rather save my money for something I really want instead.”
Taylor is seven-years-old and already a Money Smart Kid who is well on her way to becoming a Money Smart Adult. I couldn’t be more proud of her.
The Heavy Purse Store is now open! My new downloadable Money Club Workbooks are now on sale. Each workbook provides five targeted lessons to help you raise Financially Confident Kids. Please check them out in The Heavy Purse Store.