I want my children to learn how to compare prices. What are some things I could try?
Answer: When teaching children to compare prices, focus on both costs and benefits – that is, the best value, not just the lowest price.
These are exercises you can make very simple for younger children and more complex as children get older.
For example, when you are shopping at the grocery store, you could hold up two boxes of detergent of different sizes. Have your child find the prices and the amount of detergent in each bottle or box. Point out the unit pricing signs, or do some simple math (or let your child use a calculator on your smart phone) and ask which one they think offers the better value for you. You could do the same exercise online, by comparing toy prices on shopping comparison sites. Here the variables might be the retail price and shipping costs.
The idea is to show your child that prices will vary by size, features, quality and retailer, and to let them start forming judgments about features versus cost. Be sure to model this behavior in the store as well. If you automatically reach for a specific brand, ask yourself out loud if it is the best deal. Compare your favorite brand’s price with other sale items. Or, ask your children to find the better deal and let them keep the money they save you.
As your children get a little older you could start talking about other products that might be more difficult to compare – a new bike or car, for example. If you will need to finance that car, work together on comparing loan terms and rates.
For more money activities for your child, visit our Money As You Grow section.