The weekly shop is one of the main factors in any parent’s budget – but do the mouths you’re feeding realise how much it costs?
We spoke to parents and kids across the UK* to figure out whether kids understand the cost of being a grownup and running a household. When it came to the average weekly food bill, 30% of kids assumed it cost less than £60, and the average estimate was £82.
In reality, parents said they spent an average of £92, and 37% of our grownup respondents said they dole out over £100 on groceries each week.
It’s important to teach your kids about the reality of the weekly shop so they have a better understanding of money and how it factors into the household. Shopping with your kids is a great, hands-on way to teach them about budgeting, spending, and saving.
1. Make a list
Before you go to the shop, sit down together and make a list. Encourage kids to look around the kitchen and brainstorm items they might not usually think about, such as cooking ingredients like oil, or household products like dishwasher soap. This will help them realise there’s a lot more to shopping than just the ‘fun’ things!
Divide each item into ‘want’ and ‘need’ list. As you write the items down, ask your kids how much they think each thing costs. Add up the total and make a note of it, so you can compare it to what you actually end up spending.
2. Set a budget
Before you go to the shop, tell them how much you think you can afford to spend. Depending on how old they are, you can explain why this is the budget, and tell them what happens if you go over it; there’s less money for fun things like days out or takeaways. This will help to put the shopping trip in context with all the other things that need to be accounted for.
If you often pay by card, consider taking out cash and showing them exactly what your budget looks like in notes and coins. This can help to give your kids (and you!) a concrete idea of what you can afford to spend.
3. Smart shopping
Let your kids have an active role in the shopping experience. Work through your list together and talk to them about which products you choose to put in the trolley. Be sure to point out what you’ve written down as a ‘want’ and a ‘need’, and decide whether all the ‘wants’ should make it to the checkout.
By filling up the trolley together, you can explain how different deals and offers work – and point out which ones aren’t as good as they might appear. You can also explain the difference between the different levels of quality products, and touch on why it’s important to choose nutritious foods.
For more advice on being savvy with shopping, check out our post on how to make the most of discounts and offers.
4. Time to pay
When you reach the checkout, ask your child if they think you’ve managed to stick to the budget. If they’re old enough, let them help you bag the items as they keep an eye on the price tallying up. Though it might seem like a small chore, the physical task of packing the products can help them get to grips with the actual cost of the weekly shop.
After you’ve paid, look at the receipt together to see how much you saved through offers, and what the most expensive items are. Compare the actual cost to their estimate and ask them for their feedback – what was the best deal you found? What would they do differently next time? Involving them this way will help them to start thinking about the complexities of spending money, and hopefully inspire them to come back and spend less next time!
As you probably already know, perfecting the weekly shop can take practice, and it’s a learning process that changes every time you shop. Including your kids in the routine can be a great way to spend time together, and it’ll prepare them to conquer it themselves in the future!
*Survey conducted by OnePoll, on behalf of Provident, of 1,000 5-12 year olds and 1,000 parents living in regions across the UK.
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Teach your kids to conquer the weekly shop