Coupons may not be the first thing parents think of when they look into their child’s eyes, but frugality is creeping up the list of important life lessons.
Most parents may not coo, “Oh, sweetie pie! I can’t wait until we clip your first coupon!” Still, those colorful bits of paper can serve as learning tools to strengthen the fundamentals of reading, math, memory and organization. Even at an early age, children can play with coupons to learn colors, shapes and numbers.
Most importantly, coupons also can serve as an inexpensive way to teach your child the value of money and the importance of investing. You can use grocery coupons as a means of turning everyday shopping trips into great learning experiences that will last a lifetime.
Here are 13 benefits you may not have considered.
1. Becoming Frugal 101
Ask Warren Buffett: It doesn’t matter whether you’re a millionaire of a dollar-aire, being frugal is a key to financial prosperity. Teaching your children how to make the most of their money at an early age is one of the best gifts you can give them. Not only will it possibly keep them out of debt in later years, but they might just end up like Buffett, donating their zillions to charity and earning a special place in heaven.
2. Identifying Colors
The first two things many children learn are their colors and animal noises. Fortunately, the best coupons can be found in the colorful Sunday paper. Newspapers print in a limited number of colors, making it easier for children to identify and match colors as you thumb through the pages in search of good coupons.
3. Learning Math
After colors often come numbers. Use coupons as lessons to help your children first learn, then hunt for and recognize numbers. Begin with single digits then move on to double digits (a 1 with a 5 makes a 15).
After addition comes subtraction. Teach them to subtract the amount of the coupon from the price of the product. This strengthens their mathematical skills while helping them ascertain what makes a deal a good deal.
Once your child has grasped these basics, it’s time to introduce percentages and decimals. Use double and triple coupons to practice multiplication tables.
4. Improving Motor Skills
Remember how difficult it was to master scissors? Help your toddler develop this delicate motor skill with a child’s pair of scissors and a sheet of coupons. It may take a long time for them to cut out a single coupon, but it will give them a great sense of accomplishment. You might want to start with online printable coupons, so you can reprint them in the event of mishaps.
One tip: Avoid unpleasant scenes by making it EXTRA clear children must ask permission before using scissors and they’re only to be used for cutting paper.
Coupons are just scraps of paper you’re going to lose unless you–or a helpful, short assistant–keep them organized. Make a game of it with younger children by having them match coupons by color, pictures or product type. As children grow older, ask them to file the coupons in an organizer by category (canned goods, cleaning/laundry, etc.)
As you shop, ask your child to match the coupon to the product. It will improve their identification skills while saving you a pile of aggravation.
6. Understanding Budgets
Discuss with your children why you use coupons. What is your food budget and why? What are your family’s goals and how do coupons help you reach those goals?
Avoid going too much into detail with children. You don’t want to frighten them into thinking your family will soon be living on the street, but you do want them to understand the importance of saving and spending widely.
7. Planning Meals
Involve your children in planning family meals by searching through your coupon and recipes files to create a grocery list. This will also help limit your impulse buying and keep you on a budget.
8. Selecting the Restaurant
Teach the value of budgeting by using coupons on your next dining trip. Let your child select the restaurant by searching through circulars and restaurant coupons. Set a budget for the meal and let them decide what to order off the menu using the coupons they found.
9. Understanding Story Problems
To the mathematically disinclined (let’s not always see the same hands), story problems make absolutely no sense on paper. It’s a lot easier to understand, however, when presented as a word problem during a shopping trip.
For example: Apples are $1 per pound. How much will it cost to buy 3 pounds? Give children paper and pencil to work out problems so they can replicate their work later in school.
10. Completing Financial Transactions
Begin by letting children participate by holding coupons and handling the money to the cashier. As they progress, allow them to purchase a single item, placing their purchase on the counter, giving their money to the cashier and receiving the change. If you’re worried about holding up other shoppers, shop at a time when the store isn’t busy or use the self-checkout lane.
11. Learning Computers
While nearly 90% of all grocery coupons are issued in Sunday newspaper inserts, retailers and manufacturers are increasingly using the internet to offer such updates as mobile coupons, group-buying coupons and much more. Use computers and search engines with your child to find online coupons and promotions.
12. Investing Savings
You can really get your kids motivated to help you by letting them share in the savings earned from coupons. Let them use their extra money to buy things they want and need. Urge them to stretch their money further by using coupons when they make their purchases.
If your child is interested in making a larger purchase, like an Xbox game, encourage them to open a bank account and agree to match their savings. This will teach them an invaluable lesson about investing, although it will cost you a few extra dollars.
13. Understanding Calendars
Coupons have deadlines, which requires the use of a calendar to monitor. Pick up a freebie calendar and show your child how to find the dates on the coupons and then in the calendar. This way your children can help you sort out coupons that are expiring.
This is a guest post by Coupon Sherpa, a simple and easy to use, all inclusive coupon site with deals on online, grocery, mobile and printable coupons.
Photo by Roebot