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When we go shopping, how can I explain that we can't afford to buy all the things my children want?

When discussing what you can or can't afford with your children, start a discussion about one topic, like groceries, by explaining needs versus wants. Include your children in some of your buying decisions so they understand the choices you make.

First, there’s no shame in explaining to children that you have a certain amount of money to spend on the things you need and the extras you want. Some younger children may not grasp that your funds are finite.

You can help your kids to learn that money is all about choices: How much you spend, or don’t spend. Which brands you buy. What prices you’re willing to pay. Whether you shop for the best value or go with the first item you see.

A good way to teach these money choices is to include your children in some of your buying decisions. For example:

  • When you’re at the grocery store, explain why you pick one size or item over another. Then ask your children which choices they would make.
  • Try giving your children a few dollars and ask them to pick out what kind of fruit they would want in their lunches.
  • When shopping with your child, ask yourself aloud: “Do I need this now? Could I find it for less if I shopped around more?

For more money activities for your child, visit our Money As You Grow section.