If you’re like most parents, it’s not uncommon for your child to come home from school with papers in tow about an upcoming school field trip, book sale, fundraiser, or other special event. While your excitement about these events may not quite match that of your child’s, these occasions present a great opportunity to sneak in some good money lessons.
If your child’s school is having a book sale or fundraiser, they’ll often bring home a flyer showing what’s available for students or parents to buy. This is a great opportunity to introduce basic budgeting concepts.
Before talking to your child, look over the materials yourself and determine how much money you want to spend or give your child to spend. If it’s a book sale at school, talk to your child about how to check prices and, if you haven’t already, the finiteness of money. Tell them how much money they’ll have to spend and make sure that they realize that once it’s gone, it’s gone.
If you receive a flyer with the books listed or can go to the sale with your child, look through the books and use it as a chance to teach your child about making choices. If they only have $10 to spend, but want two different books that total $12, stick to your word rather than giving them the extra $2. Let them make the decision about which book to choose, even if you don’t agree with the choice they’re making. If they later regret their choice, talk to them about ways they can earn and save money to buy the other book in the future.
If you’re looking at a flyer for a fundraiser, tell your child how much you want to spend and have them help you find objects that will fit within your budget. Explain how you decide which item to get if there’s more than one that you want and you don’t have enough money to buy both.
Field trips can have multiple components. In addition to the main activity, there may be opportunities for students to buy snacks, pay to participate in an extra activity, or purchase a souvenir from the gift shop.
Before you send your child on the trip, give them a mini lesson in delayed gratification using the field trip as an example. Make it fun by taking some time beforehand to research the location of the trip and what might be available. Let your child help you learn about the destination and then use these real-life details to talk to them about what choices they may have to make on the trip. For example, while it would be nice to get an ice cream cone after lunch, if they wait another hour, they can use their money to buy something fun at the gift shop.
Using events like this helps form the connection between managing money (which is something they may only think adults have to do) and your child’s life. Tapping into experiences they’re excited about will keep them engaged and interested while you sneak in a money lesson.