Children and Money

Money Conversations: Shopping with Taylor

Money Conversations: Shopping with Taylor | www.TheHeavyPurse.comShopping with children can be risky. They are either bored and restless or try filling your cart with things you don’t need. But last weekend, I invited my youngest daughter, Taylor, to join me on an afternoon of running errands and she agreed. As we buckled our seat belts, she asked me, “Mom, will you tell me how much we spend at each place?”

Surprised, I answered, “Of course, I will.”

Money conversations are not taboo in our home, obviously. 🙂 Taylor knows I’m a financial advisor and was pretty tickled to see herself as a character in The Heavy Purse. So I took this as sign that we were going to have a good money talk today.

I needed to replace my favorite non-stick skillet, so our first stop was Sur La Table. As we entered the store, Taylor spotted a boldly colored decorative whisk, nearly as tall as she is.

Taylor was adamant that she needed that whisk so we took a look at the price tag. $300.

“Wow,” I said. “That’s a really nice whisk. How long do you think it will take you to earn enough money to buy it?”

“A good year and a half.” Taylor responded.

“That’s a long time,” I mused. “Do you think it’s worth it?”

Taylor assured me it was. I didn’t argue with her and we proceeded into the store to look at skillets. The store-brand skillet retailed for $100 but was on sale for $50. I compared it to a name-brand skillet but couldn’t see any differences beyond a higher retail price of $150. Taylor examined the two skillets and found no differences either, so we asked a salesperson. She agreed the only real difference was store-brand versus name-brand.

Taylor and I bought the store-brand skillet after we agreed a name-brand didn’t justify paying more for a skillet that was virtually the same. We then discussed how we could put that $100 savings to better use.

When we got back into the car, I asked, “What do you think about the whisk now? Do you still think it’s worth working a year and half for?”

She thought about for a moment. “I still like it. But if I have to work that long for something … maybe I’d rather spend my money at the American Girl Store.”

I smiled and we headed to the next store to pick up some pillows. Once again, Taylor and I compared cheaper pillows to more expensive pillows. After much discussion, we agreed to buy the more expensive pillows. We would have these pillows for many years, and they needed to be durable since we use our sofa every day. The cheaper pillows cost less today but would need to be replaced sooner, so in the end, they were actually the more expensive choice.

At the end of our shopping adventure, Taylor asked, “How much did we spend today, Mom?”

“Almost $400.”

“$400! In one day!!” Taylor exclaimed.

“Yes,” I said. “It is expensive to feed and care for a family. But every time we bought something, we took our time to make sure we were making a smart decision that was within our budget—didn’t we?”

Taylor looked at the skillet, pillows, groceries and all the other items we purchased and slowly nodded her head in agreement.

“Do you still want the $300 whisk we saw at Sur La Table?” I asked.

“Well…” Taylor hesitated. “It’s nice but for $300 it can only sit in my room.”

Shannon and TaylorMoney conversations don’t need to complicated or sit down lectures. They can happen during impromptu shopping trips, where instead of making internal decisions, you talk out loud and let your children see how you make your choices. I want my daughter to learn how much it costs to care and feed for a family. To slow down and look at the options within her budget, then figure out which one provides the most value and greatest joy. To know that I do this every time I spend money.

I can still hear my father encouraging me to make an integrity or value-based decision when I’m confronted with a choice. I want my girls to hear my voice when they make decisions too, so I will continue having regular money conversations with them and not hide how we spend our family money. This is how they learn.

We pulled into our driveway and I turned to Taylor, “Thank you for coming with me today. You were such a great helper at making decisions.”

“You’re welcome!” Taylor replied. “I’ve changed my mind. I don’t want the whisk anymore. I’d rather save my money for something I really want instead.”

Taylor is seven-years-old and already a Money Smart Kid who is well on her way to becoming a Money Smart Adult. I couldn’t be more proud of her.


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March 11, 2013  •  48 Comments  •  Children and Money

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  1. Monday, March 11th, 2013
    Cute! Haha It's cute that you're getting the conversation with your daughter. I'm just starting to explain money to my oldest...she is almost 4. She is at least starting to understand that we don't have an unlimited amount of money.
    • Monday, March 11th, 2013
      They can run, but they can't never hide from Mom's money conversations! LOL! 4 is a great age to start teaching kids about money. She will be a pro by the time she's on her own - many, many years from now. :)
  2. Monday, March 11th, 2013
    I rarely buy anything at full retail. If I can't find it at a thrift store, I will look to Amazon. $400 is more discretionary spending that we allow ourselves for an entire month lol.
    • Monday, March 11th, 2013
      Bargain hunting is a great trait and skill to pass on to our kids. It was a higher than normal shopping spree for us, but in hindsight, I'm glad she asked me that question when I was buying more than groceries. We spend a lot of time talking about want versus need, so it was good for her to see my thought and buying process for needs.
  3. Monday, March 11th, 2013
    Great post Shannon! We've had more basic, yet similar, conversations and it's always interesting to see how they think in terms of a "wise" use of money. So thankful that we get to be a part of molding them to make solid financial decisions for their futures.
    • Monday, March 11th, 2013
      Thanks, John! It is so important to be a part of molding how they view and handle money. And the younger can start the discussions the better. My girls continue to amaze me with their ability to handle money and make the right decisions with a little guidance and without me having to say "no" first. :)
  4. Monday, March 11th, 2013
    wise girl! the 30 days cool down period could also work great with kids, 30 days is like 20 years in kid's life so it is likely they'll have moved on by then and won't want to buy the thing.
    • Monday, March 11th, 2013
      She is a wise girl, Pauline! :) A 30 day cooling period on big purchases is another smart option for parents to use. It does feeling like forever to most kids and many of them will have moved on to something else.
  5. Monday, March 11th, 2013
    Great story. Glad to hear that Taylor is already on her way to financial independence.
    • Monday, March 11th, 2013
      Thanks, Grayson! I have my fingers crossed that Taylor and her big sister, Lauren, will be Money Smart Adults, enjoying long-term financial well-being. :)
  6. Monday, March 11th, 2013
    Great story, Shannon. We have these conversations at the store alot too. Whenever we head in, I ask the accompanying children to help me in making good financial decisions for our family. It's so fun to watch them learn and grow in this area, isn't it?
    • Monday, March 11th, 2013
      Thanks, Laurie. That's fantastic you're having these conversations with your kids in the store too. What better place for them to learn about financial decisions then at the store, where their are thousands of things vying for their attention and money! It is great fun to watch them grow and surprise me in this area.
  7. Monday, March 11th, 2013
    What a wonderful story and lesson! And way to go Taylor!!

    Practical hands on lessons are a much better way for anyone (young or old) to learn something new.

    People say that we only remember a small percentage of what we read, but we remember a lot more from an experience, especially if there is any sort of emotion attached to the experience.

    These experiences that you are building with your daughters around managing money are things that they will carry forward the same way you carry forward the lessons you learned from your father. And the absolute best part is that the lessons are all taught in a positive, fun way. :-)
    • Monday, March 11th, 2013
      Thanks Sicorra! I agree kids (and us too) seem to absorb more through hands-on, practical lessons. And I think it's key we take advantage of these moments when they present themselves. I didn't expect to have this great money conversation when I invited Taylor to go shopping with me, but I'm so glad we did and that I didn't tell her "no" when she wanted to know how we spent at each of our five stops.

      It does feel great to pay my father's legacy forward. It's my greatest hope that when Taylor and Lauren leave home that I've prepared them to be financially independent and that they, in turn, teach those same lessons to their kids (many, many years from now!) :)
  8. Monday, March 11th, 2013
    Awww... I love this post! Your daughter is already on her way to being financially savvy :)
    • Monday, March 11th, 2013
      Thanks Mackenzie! She's got more financial savvy and wisdom than many adults and I'm very, very proud of her.
  9. Monday, March 11th, 2013
    That's the cutest story ever! If you ever need a babysitter remember I'm right up the road...your daughters can probably teach me a thing or two. :)
    • Monday, March 11th, 2013
      Thanks, Tonya! I will keep you in mind the next time I need a babysitter! My girls would want you to bring your video camera, so you could film all their many antics. In return, I am sure they would give you a list of money do's that begin with, "Mom says..." :)
    • Sunday, March 17th, 2013
      LOL! No problem. We can make a movie for you..maybe one about kids and money. :)
    • Monday, March 18th, 2013
      Fantastic! Of course, they would want to first dance and model for you! :)
  10. Monday, March 11th, 2013
    Great post Shannon, my daughter will be 3 soon, so we have yet to have these conversations, but when we do, I will be well armed with your advice, thank you!! P.S. I really need to have these conversations with my wife, got any advice there?
    • Tuesday, March 12th, 2013
      Thanks, Jim! I'm glad to help prepare you to have money talks with your daughter. She's almost at the perfect age to start to her about money. They learn so quickly and observe so much! Hmmm...your wife is a bit harder. :) For me, goals are always the way to start. I find it's very hard to save money when it doesn't have a purpose. But when you have something to compare your urge to buy something against, it makes it much easier to put the item back on the shelf without feeling deprived. Hope that helps!
  11. Tuesday, March 12th, 2013
    Aw so cute! I love that she was drawn to a whisk...who would spend $300 for one though?! I mean how many ways can one make a whisk? Does it prep your entire meal for you?

    My hope as a mom is that our kiddo learns to be money smart as she grows up, we'll start as soon as shes old enough to start understanding.
    • Tuesday, March 12th, 2013
      I know, right? It's was humongous, so it was purely decorative. Kids can be drawn to the oddest things. Of course, if it did prep my meals for me, then it might actually be bargain! :) I have no doubt that you and your husband will raise a Money Smart daughter who will also decide a $300 whisk is not the best use of her money.
  12. Justin@TheFrugalPath
    Tuesday, March 12th, 2013
    This story illustrates how important it is to teach finances to children without talking down to them. If you just said "No, you can't have the whisk." she may think you're being unfair. By having her come to the decision herself you're teaching her important life skills.
    • Tuesday, March 12th, 2013
      Absolutely! I am not a fan of the word "no" when it comes to telling kids they can't have something. Without a further explanation behind the "no", they can end up feeling deprived. I try my best to guide them to the right decision on their own by asking them questions.
  13. Wednesday, March 13th, 2013
    Aw, she is just a cutie...I remember shopping with my girls when they were that age. We called it The Girls Club and our conversations would include money not quite like this though but the same message.

    Now that my oldest daughter has her own little family I can see she learned from our conversations because she's a wise little shopper. My youngest, not so much, we have to have a little more conversations about money but she's coming around :)

    Thanks for sharing this, gives us a great idea on how to make simple conversations mean so much.

    Hope things are going well.
    • Wednesday, March 13th, 2013
      Thanks Corina! I think she's a cutie too! I love the Girls Club and I'm glad you talked to your girls about money too. They do learn so much - more than we often give them credit for! I agree simple conversations are the best; no need to turn into a big production. :)
    • Sunday, January 5th, 2014
      Well I'm glad to say that from the time you posted this originally to today, Marisa has learned a lot about money. She still loves to spend but understands now when we can't or when it's not justified.

      She'll be starting her first job tomorrow and she is already talking about saving more than half her check...I love it!

      Hope you had a great weekend Shannon! Have a great new week ahead!
    • Shannon
      Monday, January 6th, 2014
      That's fantastic! You've done a great job with Marisa. You're a great Mom and it sounds like Marisa has a good head on her shoulders, thanks to you! :)
  14. Thursday, March 14th, 2013
    Love it! You're right, money lessons don't need to be sit down lectures. A perfect example of how you can turn a simple shopping experience into a valuable and fun learning experience for your kids.
    • Thursday, March 14th, 2013
      Thanks Anthony! Absolutely agree. The best part is that I taught Taylor some important lessons and she didn't even realize it. :) I'm always on the lookout for ways to weave money lessons into our day-to-day activities and conversations.
  15. Thursday, March 14th, 2013
    Love this! It's great that you're able to have these kinds of talks with your daughter--the learning experiences she's having now will be invaluable for her future.
    • Thursday, March 14th, 2013
      I feel very fortunate that my girls are so open to having money conversations with me and playing save, spend and share with their money. The world is big and and in order to truly thrive - you have to know how to handle money wisely. It's my hope by the time, they leave home that I've given them the tools to do so.
  16. Thursday, March 14th, 2013
    Very Cute! My oldest daughter often asks me how much stuff costs when we are shopping. Every now and then I will give her a little bit of money and take her to the dollar store to spend it. It's a great way to show her how far money can (or can't) go.
    • Thursday, March 14th, 2013
      Thanks for stopping by, Alexa. Glad to have you here. That's fantastic you're already teaching your daughter what money can and cannot buy. I find kids are more cautious with their own money, especially after they've made a few unwise purchases that they regret. They learn to slow down and really think about what they want, which is exactly what we want them to do!
  17. Thursday, March 14th, 2013
    What a great lesson Taylor learned and I can see she's going to be pretty smart just like her Mom. I have a feeling that the way you're teaching her about money is the same way your Dad taught you. She'll be very responsible one day Shannon and I know you'll be so proud.

    • Thursday, March 14th, 2013
      Thank you Adrienne. She is going to be much smarter than me! :) I still hear my father's voice and his wise words. I hope my daughters will always hear mine too.
  18. Friday, January 3rd, 2014
    The earlier you learn, the better! I research every purchase I make these days. I make sure I'm getting the best price by scouring the internet prices, coupons, special and also checking out reviews. There no worse feeling that buying something at one price and seeing it cheaper a few days later -- arg!

    Thanks for posting!
    • Shannon
      Friday, January 3rd, 2014
      So true! You are never too young to learn how to make smart shopping decisions. The internet is such a great help and makes it a lot easier to ensure you're getting a great deal. Thanks for stopping, Nicole. Have a great weekend!
  19. Friday, January 3rd, 2014
    This is such a great way to teach your daughter about money! You did not put pressure on her to agree with you. You asked her opinion and let her think about it over time. This interaction makes it part of her life as a natural way to think about making purchases. Super job Mom!
    • Shannon
      Friday, January 3rd, 2014
      Thanks, Maggie! It's not always easy to let them make their own conclusions but I want the girls to feel capable making their own decisions. I find by sharing my thoughts and asking them their opinions really helps us have some great conversations.
  20. Tuesday, January 7th, 2014
    That is great! More parents need to have discussions like this. I think that when parents in general do not, the kids ask for outrageous things. A beautiful whisk that is a decoration is great, but knowing she'd have to earn the money herself to pay for it makes such a difference in influencing her on the purchase itself and its value. If all kids were given this knowledge I'm sure the retail industry would be in trouble during the holidays LOL

    I hope to do the same with my children. My parents never had these conversations with me. I did ok in the beginning on my own but there were things I didn't understand and concepts I didn't learn in school. You never want your kids to learn about their finances the hard way.
    • Shannon
      Tuesday, January 7th, 2014
      It breaks my heart knowing how many parents do so much for their kids in hopes of giving them a great life but neglect to talk to them about money. The conversations don't need to be complicated but simply demonstrating my thought process as how I decide to use our family money. Guiding Taylor to the right answer but allowing her to figure it out her own. You definitely do not want your kids to learn about finances the hard way. I would much rather than make their money mistakes now, rather than when they are older and mistakes are bigger.
  21. Friday, November 6th, 2015
    I love this story! It's so encouraging and gives me an idea of how to talk things through with my 5-year-old the next time we are in a store. So much learned in one afternoon!
  • Meet Shannon

    "As a Certified Financial Planner, it is my passion to help individuals and families build a healthy relationship with money. I look forward to helping you raise financially confident kids.” - Shannon Ryan