A few years back we began to prepare for our kids metamorphosis into teenagers. They’re still great kids, but one day they’ll wake up, crawl out of bed… and anything can happen.
Though they don’t know it yet, prepping them to become teenagers is also about making sure they have a smooth transition into young adults. A big part of being an adult, is being responsible with money.
As a first step, we got them checking accounts with their own debit cards. I’m not sure how often I think about just how much kids these days interact with money differently. I carried cash, mostly. No cash? Write a check — at the grocery store. Debit cards weren’t around that much.
Now, you can buy things from your cell phone with a tap or a swipe and a beep. You don’t even have to put any information in. That can make what you’re spending seem unreal. Saving is an important conversation, but lately the one we’ve been having is about shopping.
Avoiding Impulse Buys
When all you do is point and click, learning to control impulse buys is even more important to teach kids. Make sure they know to ask realistic questions about what they want, then walk them through the process.
Even though they have their own debit cards, for big purchases, they still ask us about it first. Rather than go to the store, we sit at where I know they will do most of their shopping when they leave home — online.
We go through all the normal questions: why do you want it? Do you really need it? Could you get something better if you waited and saved? What’s your budget?
Once they decide it really is something they want, it’s time to talk price. It’s easier than ever to compare online, but it can be tricky too, to make sure a given item is the same model that you want, and carries the same guarantees and warranties. Those are values young people don’t often think about, when they only look at the initial price tag.
So, we start doing comparison shopping. Look at good places to shop online. Teach them the stores you go to. Show them how to look for deals and coupons. Encourage them to see the value of finding a lower price by allowing them to spend their budget.
If they can save one place, they can get an extra item or an upgrade on what they were looking at.
Quality: It’s Not Always About Price
When you’re young, yeah, they’ll be shopping price for awhile. But a smart shopper also knows, when you buy junk it doesn’t last and often ends up costing you more in the long run than if you got the better product in the first place.
Talk about how long they expect to have it, and if the item will have any resale value. Speaking of resale…
What To Do With Old Stuff
We’ve tried to keep our kids out of the habit of simply throwing things away. We are a disposable consumer society, but we don’t have to be.
A good angle here is the reward factor: rather than toss your old stuff, if you sell it, you have a bigger budget to buy what you want now. Is it extra work to sell old things?
It used to be you’d have a garage sale but anymore the internet has made that easier too.
I’ve done my fair share of selling stuff on Craigslist, but I wouldn’t trust my kids using the site. I’ve met some sketchy people using it, and I’m always cautious about who I’m meeting, and where I’m meeting them.
That’s not a life lesson I’m ready for them to have yet.
A much safer, and overall better option, is selling through Ebay. They take pictures, write a description, post it up and they’re off. Totally in control.
Ebay is great with payment and it’s safe.
Of course if the item is of such low value it’s not worth auctioning, we go and donate it, rather than trash it.
Ebay for Buying and Selling
When teaching them about buying and selling on Ebay, we always make sure to talk about upgrading. Many people don’t know that you can buy brand new items on Ebay, and that it has a daily deal section of the site.
A clever trick we have done a number of times, is look at the daily deals, and see if there are any great specials. If you see something like say, a blender, or speakers for your TV or computer… you can quickly see what your current one is selling for in the auctions.
Then you compare the average price you can sell your existing one for and the cost of it on special… and that’s your upgrade price!
We went from wired speakers that had cords dangling everywhere to some nice, new Bluetooth speakers for a fraction of buying the set outright. I don’t like to wait until we use something so long, it breaks, and then has no resale value.
If you get the new items you want on sale, it’s small jumps to keep them updated and in good condition. The best part, I can do it all from one site!
Regardless of how you do it, don’t do what many parents do, which is wait for their kids to leave home to let them figure out finances on their own. Going from being a kid living at home, to being an adult out on their own, shouldn’t be an on/off switch.
Work with them, while you’re there, to start making decisions about money and shopping. They get the benefit of your advice, and it helps build your relationship!
(Affiliate links: Would like to point out, if you click on the links above to visit the Ebay deals, we will make a small commission should you choose to buy anything. If you’re wary of using our links, it’s okay just go to http://deals.ebay.com, and see what I’m talking about.)