BY BERN MORLEY
With a family of five, I need to shop with both a list and a budget. If I don’t, I simply go off the rails. Without a list, I inevitably get side tracked and find that why yes, I really do need new pillows for the entire family or what’s that now, a 4 burner BBQ? Of COURSE we need one of those.
I can also put my impulse purchases down to being distracted by shopping with my children. Hands up those that take their children along with them on their weekly grocery shop? Now hands up those that don’t if they can possibly avoid it?
I’ll be honest, given the choice between taking my nearly 6 year old son to the local supermarket or putting my hand on a lit hotplate, I would probably opt for the terminal burn. Mainly because to him, grocery shopping is all about the amount of lollipops he can convince me to purchase and subsequently consume during a 45 minute shopping trip.
That was until I worked out that instead of our grocery shop being a chore we both dreaded, I just had to make it both fun and without him even knowing, educational.
The thing with kids is, because they often don’t actually have to really work to get the money to subsequently buy the food they eat, they have no understanding of money in real world terms. I wanted Jack to understand the value of saving in a spending context.
Firstly we sat down and we made our shopping lists. I asked him what he, as a six year old, thought he would need to get through his week. Here is his list:
A cricket bat
A mars bar
I then asked him which of the above items he simply wanted and which ones he would probably need to live. So we went through it again and highlighted the things he actually needed. He reluctantly agreed that the surfboard wasn’t necessary for survival.
We modified his list and estimated how much he would need to buy everything on it. We then made our way to the ATM. Now to a child, an ATM must look like a magic money machine. They watch us every day as we stick our card in a slot and in return, we are rewarded with money. FREE money to a naïve 6 year old.
This is why when I took the money out I explained to him that this machine was basically just my gigantic piggy bank. It held Mum and Dad’s savings and that I simply took it out when I needed to buy things like food. I explained to him that for every dollar I spend, I try to save a dollar. This isn’t of course always possible, but it’s what we were aiming for.