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Kids and Coupons

Posted by Elisa Taub
Kids and Coupons

Learning the value of a dollar can be a tough concept for kids to grasp. Especially when they see their parents magically getting money out of ATM machines. The old phrase money doesn't grow on trees has been replaced by the more technologically advanced "money isn't made in ATM machines."

One way to introduce your child to the value of the dollar is to put the emphasis on saving money in the form of clipping coupons. By using coupons you show your child that you personally value money and don't want to waste it. So it's not just "I'm not wasting money on another power ranger when you already have 10" -- it's showing your child that you are concerned about wasting money on the items you and they use everyday...milk, toothpaste, cereal, etc.

But showing isn't enough... you need to get them into the game. By handing over the scissors to your child, you will be giving them a chance to practice the skills they will need later in life; setting goals, using money, reading, cutting with scissors, and list making. This will also help your children see that they are important members of the family unit. Plus it is certain to take the drudgery out of marketing for you and your kids, a big bonus for you.

Once the kids get the hang of it don't be surprised to be met each Sunday morning with your children shrieking "I'll get the paper!" Now if they'd only deliver it to my bed with a cup of coffee... I can still dream can't I?

GAME PLAN

Introduce your child to the concept of saving money with coupons by going through the Sunday paper coupon section together and showing them all the money there is to be saved. While you want to make them aware of the value of money, you also do not want them to worry about money and the lack thereof. So instead of just saying look how much we can save, which begs the question "Why do we need to save... are we of out of money?", explain that the saved money will be used to buy something special. Then let them choose what they would like to do with the money. The main guideline is that it should be something for the whole family to enjoy.

Next set up a Goal Jar to hold each week's saved money. You can buy a decorative jar if you like, but the idea is to have it in plain site where the kids can watch the money grow. Label the jar with the item or activity you are all working for.

Each week have your child go through the coupon section of the Sunday paper and clip coupons for the items you regularly use. At first you may need to help them become aware of the items you use, but once they get the hang of it they can do it on their own. Have your children paperclip like items together (math skill) and save in an envelope for the next trip to the market.

On your next trip to the market, have your children pull out the coupons and pull the ones you can use as you drop the items into the cart. Show them how to comparative shop, calculating the cost of your regularly used item with the coupon savings to the same item, different brand on sale. Sometimes you save more money with an item on sale and can't use the coupon.

Even the youngest of kids can help by pointing out the red sale price stickers at the market. This is like a big I-Spy game for kids. My children get really excited when they find a "double bonus" -- an item they can use their coupon on that is already on sale.

One you return home, have your child check the receipt and add up the amount of money you saved. Place this exact amount in the Goal Jar and display the savings for all to see.

Each week let the kids count how much money you now have and mark it on the jar. This way they can see how close they are getting while getting hands on experience with counting money.

Once you have met your goal, make sure to spend the savings in the manner planned in a timely fashion. Deferring the payoff to their hard work will diminish the effects of the lesson... after all they have already waited for months. Then sit back and watch them enjoy the fruits of their labor and the proud feeling that comes with that. The value of this lesson...priceless.