Can Kids Be Mini-Inflation-Fighting Superheroes?

We think we have some good news to share: We believe children can become mini-superheroes in your family’s fight against inflation. How so? Well, what we observe every week in workshop, is that when children learn how not to waste money on purchases they may end up regretting, they also become ready and able to help their parents spend as carefully as possible, at the grocery store, the movie theatre, even on holiday gifts. Kids feel empowered and parents feel understood. Perfect timing huh?

This winter holiday season is shaping up to be the trickiest one in a while. Food, heating, and borrowing costs are up, not to mention the price of typical holiday fare such as gift-giving or travel. Families are feeling the pressure to maintain holiday traditions with less disposable income. But if you reflect upon your own childhood, how many grade, middle or high school holiday gifts can you now recall? For most of us, the answer is one, maybe two.

So, take the pressure off yourself, your kids, and your wallet. Early in the game, ask your children (or grandchildren, nieces, and nephews), to really think about the one thing they might like to receive for an upcoming holiday or birthday gift. Ask them to research (big word for a low-effort task) how much money will be required to purchase that gift, including costs like sales tax and shipping. Ask them to anticipate how much they will really use or appreciate the item or experience in question.

Then and only then, will you need to think about what the art of the possible is, in terms of how much you can afford. Because we see children stop themselves from asking for gifts that might not make sense for their family all the time. Our free and safe tool, the DIMS SCORE® Calculator, was specifically designed to help kids quickly, but not arbitrarily, consider and compare potential purchases. They enjoy using it because it helps them avoid buyer’s remorse and fear-of-missing-out in real time.

More over, did you know that when kids return to school after the winter holiday break, they mostly tell their teachers about time spent with family and friends, versus “what they got”? Stories about their uncle’s homemade pizza, or grandparents talking about their own childhood mishaps, top the list of warm memories. Most children understand that not all their classmates will have received gifts. And history often reveals to them that time spent with loved ones is a precious commodity, particularly after the sparse family gatherings that took place during the pandemic.

We see children stop themselves from asking for purchases that might not make sense for their family every week we teach. Kids enjoy using our free and safe tool because the DIMS SCORE® Calculator helps them quickly, but not arbitrarily, consider and compare all sorts of possible purchases. It helps them avoid buyer’s remorse and fear-of-missing-out in real-time.

For kids, thinking before buying really only amounts to answering simple questions, such as “How often will I play with this basketball each week?”, or “What is the return policy for boots at this store?” But answering those questions helps them slow down and break shopping decisions up into manageable chunks. Kids feel empowered and parents feel understood when everyone can work with complete information.

Maybe consider organically crowd-sourcing the purchase of one larger more meaningful gift? We’ve never met an extended family member who wouldn’t far rather spend their hard-earned gift giving dollars on a contribution towards something that their grandchild, niece, or nephew, really wants, will use, and appreciate – versus on books that don’t get read, earrings that are never worn, hoodies that collect dust, or toys that only elicit the tightest, polite “Thank You”.

Words like “interest rates” or “inflation” don’t mean a whole lot to most kids. But children pick up on things like our surprise when opening a bill, or checking out at the grocery store or gas pump. Consider asking your kids simple questions such as “How much do sales tax and shipping add?” (to the cost of a seemingly small online clothing purchase), or “How much do safe transportation and snacks add?” (to the cost of going to the movies).

These questions break shopping decisions up into manageable chunks. Answering them allows young people to experience first-hand, that being thoughtful about money and spending isn’t hard, or scary. Nor does it mean that you never get to do or buy anything fun. It just helps you understand the trade-offs that spending on one purchase can impose on another. Would they rather have that new t-shirt, or movie snacks when they see a film over the winter break? Children feel empowered and parents feel understood when everyone can work with complete information.

You can formalize thinking before buying by encouraging your children to use our Does It Make Sense? Score Calculator when making a wish-list, or you can just ask some of the questions mentioned above. Either way, can you think of a better time for young people to flex their “pause before purchase” muscles than during a period of historically high inflation? Particularly this year, who among us has time or money to spend buying gifts, winter clothing, or even groceries, that may never be used, appreciated, or eaten?

Did you ever help your parents save money when you were young, even by mistake? Do you remember them being pleasantly surprised? How great did it make you feel? If you can summon that memory, we hope it will encourage you to give your own family the gift of understanding how co-operation can be a superpower in the fight against inflation. Why not let your kids feel like mini-super-heroes? Years from now, they might tell you, that in retrospect, understanding they could help make a difference to household finances, was one of the best presents they ever got.

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