Teach your child to be ‘money wise’

Swapna Mirashi
We have been acquiring financial skills by a trial and error method. It is time we initiate a change and consciously groom our children to become educated earners, consumers, investors and positive contributors to the society. But where does one go for help in this area of education? Schools have not yet included it in their syllabus. There is neither private tuition nor are there any hobby classes or sanskar kendras to help kids be money wise. One cannot even trust the otherwise ever educating and supportive grandparents for this, as they still have problem coming to terms with the process of inflation.

When it comes to money, till now it has been an observational learning for children. Even now it all boils down to parental mentoring or role modelling as far as money management goes. Given this fact, where do parents start? As a matter of fact, this can be done totally by the way. I suggest, visit your regular places and do the routine activities like shopping, banking with your child – only this time, empower your child to lead it. How?

Start with a simple shopping experiment. Refer the Smart Shopping checklist given below, with your child. The checklist addresses the child and not the parent as it is meant to be a guide to the child during the experiment. You may need to help them understand the process at first.
Children older than 7 years are capable and often enthusiastic to lead this experiment with little help from you. You should walk along with them and may ask a question or two. For children 4-7 years of age – do this experiment together. Prompt your child to make a decision by asking questions and checking the steps during the shopping experiment.

  1. This is a child-led experiment – meaning that your child will make the shopping decisions and own those decisions. Do not be tempted to ‘correct’ your child while the experiment is on – save it for a later review.
  2. It is an experiment after all – there will not be any learning if there are no mistakes. Praise smart shopping but do take this as a learning opportunity for our future smart shoppers and not as a one-off test.
  3. You are a coach – be empathetic to your child’s ignorance but also be demanding on the basics. Try to keep them away from distractions and do not give in to the pester power. Remind them to refer and check their checklist.

Child-led Smart Shopping Checklist for your child

  1. Get your parents to sanction a fixed amount for your shopping experiment. This is your shopping budget.
  2. Make a smart shopping list. Start with small items and a small list. List what you need (the things that you must have) and your wants or desires separately.
  3. Prioritize the items in the list. When you prioritize, ask yourself if you’d value the object after a week, month or a year.
  4. Briefly survey different products, their quality, ingredients, date of manufacture, expiry date, per unit price, discounts before making a purchase decision.
  5. Estimate how many things you can buy within your budget and SHOP. Do not cross your sanctioned amount.
  6. Do you have any money left after paying your shopping bill? Great contribute it to a savings jar.
  7. Review your shopping experience and your progress, with your parents.
  8. Check if you are ready for another trial. Or are you already a smart shopper?
  9. Make sure you make a contribution to your savings jar, every time you shop and save.