Shop smart. Stay safe.
Your child will always need to pay for things, from today’s fashion and music downloads to future grocery shopping and utility bills. So learning to be savvy about how they shop, and how to keep their money safe is a valuable lesson for life.
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 drinks, you might find your money’s all gone.
• Wait for the sales – especially if you’ve got something big on your wish list, like a new phone. There are plenty of great sales, from Cyber Monday and Black Friday, to Boxing Day, Amazon Prime Day and the January sales. It could be worth waiting a little longer to get it for less.
• Use mobile banking to check your balance regularly – you can even get text alerts sent to your phone so you know how much money you’ve got.
2. How to avoid getting ripped off
Shops and online stores all want one thing – for you to spend your money with them. Why not take a look around your local 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 sweets can be cheaper in one shop than another!
• 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 a great way to get a bargain – as long as you’re careful. Follow our simple rules to stay safe:
• Use strong passwords which aren't easy to guess and never share them with anyone. Don’t use your name or date of birth – try thinking of a favourite film character or lyrics from a song you like and mix up letters and numbers.
• Make sure the website is secure – there should be a padlock in the address bar next to the website address which should start with https://. The S stands for secure.
• Do a bit of research – if you’re buying from a website you haven’t used before check out their online reviews on a site like TrustPilot.
• Found an amazing deal? If something seems too good to be true, it probably is! Check around to compare, or ask someone else you trust to double check before you buy or sign up to something you’d later regret.
If you’re unsure about anything online, ask a parent or grown-up for help.
Not sure when to talk about money with your child? Try our three money challenges:
A trip to the supermarket can be a really helpful way to talk about money and how to use it well, from sticking to a list of what you actually need to pointing out the price differences between branded versus unbranded goods. Why not give your child a shopping list and challenge them to buy all the items you need, 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!
If your child has a birthday coming up and they’re likely to be given cash, it’s a great chance to talk about saving versus spending. 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 those trainers they’ve been eyeing up for weeks. You could even offer to match their savings to give them an added incentive.