Broker Check


| October 09, 2017

Parents frequently ask me how they can pair financial education and everyday activities into learning lessons for their children. While financial literacy lessons exist everywhere, there is one great place in particular that parents can take their children to learn these lessons – the grocery store.

Here are five simple ways you can turn your next grocery store trip into a financial literacy lesson for your kids:


  1. Enlist their help before you enter the grocery store

Involving youngsters in the list-making process at home can help them understand the importance of prior planning when it comes to budgeting for essential household expenses, such as food.

Children can assist with identifying sales, selecting coupons, determining a budget, meal planning and developing a shopping list. Walk your children through each step of the process, explaining throughout the way how to make strategic decisions.


  1. Hand your child the shopping list – and see what happens

Once at the grocery store, you can allow your children to help with shopping and product selection. For younger children, you can pick a designated aisle at the grocery store, such as produce. However, if your child is old enough, give them the opportunity to lead the grocery shopping.

When you do ask children to participate in the grocery shopping, it’s important that you relinquish total control to them. While I’ve found that many parents struggle to do this, failure can oftentimes be a very important learning lesson for children. For example, if the only fruit they pick out for the week is strawberries, you’ll run out quickly and will lack overall variety in your kitchen. While it may be unfortunate for that week, the child will learn a valuable lesson in grocery shopping and smart financial decisions. No matter what happens, I always tell clients that they can make up for any losses at the grocery store next week!


  1. Explain how to differentiate between price and quality

A grocery store is also a great opportunity for you to teach your children the difference between price and quality. Ask questions such as, “Do we receive any additional quality by purchasing brand name items?” and, “Would we see the same quality with off-brand products?” These types of questions can help children begin to understand how to make wise financial decisions.

While teaching this lesson, you can also educate children on the factors to consider when evaluating whether paying a higher price for name-brand items is worth the additional cost. For instance, you can explain to them that many off-brand products use the same ingredients as their name-brand counterparts. When comparing if a name-brand item is worth the extra money, have your children examine the food labels and other distinguishing factors, such as whether it uses organic or conventional ingredients, to determine the difference between price and quality.

Have an open and honest dialogue with your children about the importance of making trade-offs within a budget. Explain to them what’s valuable to you and what exchanges sometimes need to be made. For example, perhaps it’s more important for your family to sacrifice name-brand items for organic fruits and vegetables.


  1. Think out loud

Be sure to also walk your children through each step of the grocery shopping experience verbally. Don’t be afraid to think out loud and explain your decision-making strategies, as this is a great way for children to learn. While it is a common misconception that parents shouldn’t be honest with their children about finances, I always encourage an honest discussion, as this is yet another great way for children to learn.


  1. Teach them proactive decision-making skills

Finally, children should understand the importance of proactive decision-making, and what better way to do this than by integrating them into your day-to-day tasks? Ensure your children understand this lesson by involving them in the grocery shopping experience, and explain (or let them try for themselves) the consequences of making in-the-moment decisions.

For example, they may want to add some items to the cart that aren’t on your shopping list. However, with all the other fresh produce you are purchasing, these impulse buys could result in a surplus of food for the week, and thus food is wasted when all of the fresh produce isn’t consumed before it becomes inedible.

By following these five simple steps, you can cultivate a seemingly menial responsibility like shopping at the grocery store into learning lessons to achieve financially fit families.


Are you interested in learning other ways to teach valuable financial literacy lessons to the younger generations in your family? 

Click here to request more information about my complementary workshop, Raising Financially Fit Families, which I present to groups and organizations of all sizes.