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Teaching kids to be skeptical consumers

August 3, 2009

Wisebread (via Consumerist) has a great post in which a mom (Frugal Duchess) has to tell her preteen daughter that the sales girl at a popular “tween” store – who spent quite some time with her – was not her friend. Both posts – and comments – on Wisebread and Consumerist make for some great reading.  Consumerist in particular makes the point that, if you don’t teach kids early to be “aware” consumers who can apply critical thinking to their purchases, it can come back to bite them later – something that totally rang true in *my* early life, to the tune of a $3000 credit card debt at 22. 

Jason and I already had a discussion about this (totally unprompted by the article) and how we plan to start teaching AJ about money.  Of course, now at 2 months (!) old, the most we can do is start him on a savings plan, but as he grows up, we’ve already discussed the best way to frame up both earning and spending money.  Since it was Jason’s big idea, I’m going to see if he can do a guest post to discuss it and get some feedback. 

In the meantime, how do those of you with older kids (i.e., those that can feed themselves) teach them to apply critical thinking to their purchases? Or do you?

4 Comments leave one →
  1. shellssells permalink
    August 3, 2009 2:33 pm

    The common theme in our house is “The TV doesn’t know you. The TV doesn’t know what is best for you.”

    This was prompted by all the pharma commercials which end with “Ask your Doctor about XXXrX.” Bug would then immediately think that we needed to call her Doctor. I guess the marketing is effective? So we have implemented this saying which seems to help and is reviewed frequently.

    Additionally, we do not impulse purchase. At all. Ever. Especially in front of Bug. This practically eliminates the temper tantrum in every store we venture in to. Every purchase of hers is carefully considered, and she gets to talk about it too. Then when we venture on a shopping trip, we stick to the plan.

    I truly believe that talking to your child and assuming that he understands more than you could imagine really helps with his understanding of the world.

    • August 3, 2009 8:35 pm

      That’s a great refrain Kara! Interestingly, I was just thinking about those phrama commercials, and when they started. Now I’m trying to think which ones Bug asked about calling her doctor for. I’m sure some of them made you giggle (silently, and to yourself). 😉

      I think having a plan or lists is great too – I don’t remember how my parents shopped when I was a kid, but I do remember that I’ve *always* had a problem with impulse purchases. For example, I remember once when I was 6, I totally bought a braided headband (which, since it was 1982, was designed to be worn on the forehead and not on the hair — therefore having NO PURPOSE WHATSOEVER). Fast forward to 16 and it was books that I already owned, at 26 it was $300 of DVDs in a night. Now, of course, it would be yarn, but Jason tends to curb my more spendy impulses. This is good, because I’d much rather AJ follow in Jason’s Consumer footsteps than mine. Even though I have lists when I go out, I always end up with a few impulse buys that we don’t need, etc.

      • shellssells permalink
        August 4, 2009 2:42 am

        I remember what we grew up with…my brother actually thought you couldn’t purchase something in the store unless it was marked “on sale.” Right down to peanut butter. He was greatly disappointed one day when he knew we needed peanut butter but it wasn’t “on sale” thereby forcing him to another week going peanutbutterless. My mom finally explained that “on sale” really didn’t mean what he thought it meant.

        Sadly, even if you teach your children well, things can still go awry, I know that once I finally had my own expendable cash, I ran up the credit cards pretty well. The difference, I think, is that once I realized I had done it, I knew I had been given the tools growing up to deal with the issue and pay them off. And I suppose that is about all my parents could have hoped for!

        Yes…I’ve giggled from time to time over what she thinks we should call the Doctor for. Trust me, she doesn’t need a face that looks like “Bob’s.”

  2. August 4, 2009 4:36 am

    Ah, see, I did it and then didn’t pay it off until I was 25. Or 26. Oops. 😉 Which is why Jason will be teaching the boy re: money and I will be listening at the door (though I *have* gotten better, in my defense….no more glitter headbands for me!)

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