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Category: | Shopping Help |

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Shopping Without Dropping

 Strategies for Shopping with Kids

by Nancy Twigg

Remember your pre-kid days when you could be in and out of the grocery store in thirty minutes or less? Remember when the only impulse purchases you had to worry about were your own?

While some moms actually enjoy taking their children with them to the grocery store, many moms do so only out of necessity. What else can you do when your cupboards are bare and you don’t have anyone to watch the kids while you shop?

Whether you enjoy shopping with your little ones or not, taking the family along tends to make the shopping trip more difficult, more time-consuming and more expensive. Here are some tips and strategies for making shopping with kids a little easier:

  1. Divide and Conquer – Unless you are extremely careful, your grocery bill will inevitably increase for every additional person you bring with you on your shopping trip. If at all possible, shop with as few family members as possible. Do the shopping with only your youngest child while the older kids are at school or soccer practice. Better yet, trade off babysitting with another mother so you can shop by yourself today and she can shop by herself tomorrow. Even if you have to pay a sitter $10 to watch the kids, you will probably still come out ahead because you will actually be able to concentrate on looking for bargains, using coupons, resisting impulse buying, etc.
  2. Sanctioned Splurges – Control the "I wants" and the "Gimmes" by setting a limit for the splurges. Allow your children to pick out one special treat per shopping trip or spend set a specific dollar amount that you will spend on a treat–dependent on good behavior, of course. If your budget is tight and doesn’t allow for any extra purchases, make the kids feel like they’re getting a special treat by allowing them to pick which cereal or what kind of crackers you buy.
  3. Kid-friendly Stores – Distraction is a powerful tool in keeping kids occupied and engaged so you can get your shopping done. Stores know this so that is why they offer kid-friendly perks like free balloons, free cookies, mini-shopping carts for the kids to push, special shopping carts that are fun for the kids to ride in. If your favorite store doesn’t offer these perks, pack your own special snack to keep the kids entertained while you shop.
  4. Optimal Timing – To ensure the least expensive, least stressful shopping trip with kids in tow, find the best possible time for both you and your kids. If you shop when you and your kids are tired, hungry, or cranky or when the store is most crowded, you are setting yourself up for an unpleasant experience. Find the time that works best for everyone: early Saturday morning when the stores aren’t busy and the kids are still half asleep, or maybe one evening after dinner when the kids aren’t hungry and stores aren’t as crowded.
  5. Put Them to Work – This idea wouldn’t work for small children, but could work wonderfully with older kids. Give each child a job to do while shopping that will keep him occupied and also will help make the shopping trip easier: pushing the cart, helping with coupons, putting things in basket, manning the calculator or the shopping list, etc. You could even give them a "wage"—one dollar to spend or a percentage of the savings—as their reward for their work.

Nancy Twigg is a speaker, writer and homeschool mom who lives in Knoxville, TN. She is also the editor of Counting the Cost, a free email newsletter and simple and frugal living. To sign up for Nancy’s newsletter or learn more about her work, visit Nancy online at


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Category: | Shopping Help |

Related Links:  | Clothing |

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