We’ve put together some top tips to share with your child about how to shop smart and stay safe. Why not use them to start a discussion about money and help them develop good money habits for the future?

1. Keep track of your spending

It’s easier to look after your money if you know how much you have and where it goes:

  • Wait a little. It’s easy to see things you’d like to buy, but why not wait a week, or even a month to make sure it’s what you really want or need? It can help you avoid making impulse buys that you might regret later
  • Watch out for all those small purchases. They soon add up. If you’re saving for a new game, but keep buying snacks, you might find your money’s all gone
  • Shop around. Especially if there's something big you want, like a new phone. From Cyber Monday and Black Friday, to Boxing Day and the January sales – just watch out for deals that could be too good to be true
  • Check your bank balance regularly. If you have your own account, you can use Mobile Banking, or even set up text alerts on your phone, telling you how much money you’ve got.

2. Shop smart

Shops and online stores all want one thing – for you to spend your money with them. Why not take a look around a supermarket to spot all the ways they encourage you to spend – you’ll be surprised. So always think before you buy:

  • Don't make snap decisions. Take time to ask yourself whether you really need it
  • Always shop around. Don’t assume you’re getting the best deal. It’s easy to check most prices online – even your weekly supermarket shop can be cheaper in one shop than another!
  • Consider the price not just the saving. If trainers are reduced to £50, you might be saving on the original price, but you’ve still spent £50. Make sure you have the money, and it’s something you really want or need
  • Don't be pressured into buying. Today’s deal may still be there tomorrow.

If you go ahead and buy something but find it’s not what you thought, most retailers will let you return it. Check a company’s returns policy before you buy. Online retailers are also covered by something called the Consumer Contracts Regulations, which means you usually have 14 days to return something with no questions asked.

3. How to stay safe online

Shopping online can be one way to get a bargain as long as you’re careful. Follow our simple rules to stay safe:

  • Use strong passwords that aren't easy to guess and never share them with anyone. Don’t use your personal details or a favourite character or song lyric. GOV.UK suggests using 3 random words and create different passwords for different places, rather than using the same one for everything
  • Make sure that the website is secure. Before you fill in personal or banking details on a site, look for the closed padlock image. You can find it in the browser bar. It means the link to the site is secure. A secure site will also have https:// at the start of its address. These things don't mean a site is genuine though, so make sure you're happy with a site before you log on, fill in any details or pay
  • Do some research. If you’re buying from a website you haven’t used before, check out their online reviews. Read reviews for individual sellers on auction sites, social media and online marketplace too
  • Log out afterwards. If you’ve had to log in, always click on ‘log out’ or ‘sign out’ when leaving a website.

If you’re unsure about anything online, ask a parent or grown-up for help. To stay safe online, you also need to be wary of scams and fraudsters.

4. Watch out for fraud

Sadly, not all sellers are as good as they seem. Use our tips to avoid losing your money with nothing to show for it. 

  • Found an amazing deal? If something seems too good to be true, it probably is! Take the time to check that any super cheap price is genuine. This is more likely to happen with items in high demand, such as recently launched concert tickets or limited-edition products
  • Avoid bank transfers. Be wary if someone asks you to pay by bank transfer, rather than the secure payment methods used by most online shops and auction sites. If you pay by bank transfer and it’s a scam, it’s hard to get your money back. Where possible, it’s always best to pay by debit or credit card, as these offer protection if you find yourself a victim of fraud
  • Don't click on suspicious links. Avoid using links in unauthorised emails, pop up ads or social media posts. Fake links often include spelling mistakes, extra words or numbers, or are too short. Instead, type the address for the website you want directly into your browser
  • Use trusted sellers. If you are buying “A big brand name product”, check the list of authorised sellers on their official website, and avoid buying from anyone who isn’t on that list.

Read about our online fraud guarantee here.

And finally…

Not sure when to talk about money with your child? Try our three money challenges:

The shopping trip

When shopping online or in store it can be a good time to talk about money. From sticking to a list of what you need, to comparing the price differences between branded versus unbranded goods. When internet shopping, show your children how you check order details, use secure payment systems and log out of any account when finished. Why not give your child a shopping list and challenge them to buy all the items but spend as little as possible.

The family day out

A day out is a good way to introduce budgeting – get your child to think through all the costs, from travel and event tickets to meals and snacks. Try putting them in charge of the budget. Give them a set amount of money for the day and challenge them to set a budget and stick to it – and see if they can keep everyone happy!

The birthday

If your child has a birthday coming up and they’re likely to be given cash, it’s a great chance to encourage them to save. Suggest that they use some of it to give themselves a birthday treat, but then challenge them to put money aside and set a savings goal for the future. It could be for a new game or the t-shirt they’ve been eyeing up for weeks. You could even offer to match their savings.