Keeping It Real

By Michael Ullery

March 6, 2014

Coupon Cutting, Family Style!

By Holly McElwee

Several months ago I wrote about a coupon-cutting strategy involving my oldest daughter, who’s now 13. I wanted to increase her money sense and shopping savvy. So, each week I gave her the Sunday coupons with the barest of instructions, “Cut these.” She had to determine which coupons to cut based upon the products we typically buy. After she cut the coupons, she’d put her initial somewhere on each one and then add to them coupon organizer.

When I shopped, I made a list of any coupons I used with her initial on them. At the end of the trip, I totaled how much she “earned” with her initialed coupons, and she received that amount of money as payment for her work. It reduced the amount of savings on my grocery bill, but I believe the lessons she learned, such as money sense and saving money, were more valuable.

In time, the joy of earning extra money started to lose its luster for her and getting her to cut coupons became a struggle. I dropped the exercise for a while hoping that she’d chose to come back to it on her own. However, something else happened that I didn’t envision. The 6-year-old took over.

My youngest daughter doesn’t like to be left out or left behind. Once she noticed that her sister had vacated the coupon cutting duties, she immediately stepped up to the plate. At first I wasn’t sure how this would work, but after some coaching, I’m glad I left her in the game.

Since she’s in kindergarten, she definitely needs help in this venture, but she’s shown herself to be quite skilled at the art of coupon cutting. For the Sunday coupons, I mark each coupon with an “X” to let her know which ones to cut. The coupons I print off the Internet are easier since they’re all nicely printed and aligned on regular paper. Her cutting isn’t quite as clean as her older sister’s, but she still gets the job done. In fact, I’ve noticed that her cutting has gotten better as she’s done several weeks of coupons now.

She’s also starting to learn about money. As a 6-year-old, her prospects for income are few. Having a regular money-earning opportunity has definitely gotten her interested in doing the coupon work. She likes to see how much money she made each time Mom comes home from the grocery.

She’s starting to understand what food and household items we need to buy for our family. We talk about various products, and sometimes she makes requests for food items because she’s seen them in the coupons.

She understands why it’s good to save money. My daughter has learned that coupons help the family spend less at the grocery. Several dollars shaved off the grocery bill means there’s more money to be spent elsewhere. Hopefully, this early exposure to the concept of saving money will stick with her as she grows to adulthood.

Her work ethic is strengthened. She enjoys receiving her earned money after I come back from the grocery. This gives me a chance to remind her that the money is a direct result of the work she did earlier in the week. She’s beginning to make a connection between working and earning money. The older sister is now showing interest in the coupons again, too. She sees that her sister is getting all the money that’s available and now wants back in on the action.

Try the coupon method in your household with kids of all ages and see how it begins to introduce your child to the world of money management and savvy shopping.

Read more parenting tips at www.travelingteacheronline.com