To most adults, comparison shopping is almost automatic. Think about it: When's the last time you bought something without checking out the price?
In actuality, comparison shopping is an acquired skill and an important concept to teach your children. As kids start dealing with money, learning to comparison-shop can do more than just save them a few bucks. It can help reduce impulse buying and turn them into more thoughtful, informed consumers.
Start Talking About Prices When Your Kids Are Young
One of the best places to introduce comparison shopping is at the grocery store. As you select items, explain that pricing plays a big role in your decision-making process. Point out when items are on sale, and how much you can save. Even explain to them the price difference between brand-name and store-branded products. Many grocery store registers print the total amount you saved on your receipt, which is a good way to show kids why you compare prices when you shop.
Just Say No
Perhaps one of the most impactful ways you can teach your kids to compare prices is by saying no. Let's say your child wants a certain box of cereal, but it's not on sale. When they ask, say, “No, we need to buy cereal that's on sale." When they grumpily choose another box, point out how much money you saved.
Let This Sink In: "Prices Matter When It's Your Money"
The real opportunity to drive home the value of comparison shopping is when they're spending their own money. Let's say they've saved up their allowance and want to buy a toy. They'll likely want to go straight to the store or click through Amazon to use their cash or debit card for kids.
Instead, steer them online to compare prices. Again, the key is to make sure they understand that when they shop around, they can usually save money. This means they get the item they want and keep more of their money for other things, like reaching their savings goals.
Remind Them That Comparison Shopping Is About More Than Just Prices
When kids are younger, it's wise to keep comparison shopping as simple as which item costs less. But as they get older, it's time to teach them to compare other aspects of shopping like shipping costs. For example, do they want to wait a week for the item or pay more for faster shipping? Or, if the item is cheaper online than in a store, do they want to spend more to get it now?
And don't forget the reviews. The ability to read about other buyers' experiences has changed the way we shop — mostly in a good way. Taking the time to read reviews can help your kids avoid purchases they might regret.
Teaching your kids to comparison shop and do the research — check prices, reviews, shipping costs, and more — can help turn them into savvy shoppers who make informed decisions about spending money. And, when you think about it, that's a pretty big deal.