We received a Kroger ad flier in the mail today, and when my son was looking it over, he was very impressed that an enormous steak in one of the ads was “…only $4.99! That’s a great price!” He was disappointed when I told him that the ad said it was $4.99 per pound, not per steak.
And that made me realize that it might be a good idea to teach my kids the basics of grocery shopping and weekly sales fliers. It’s definitely an important real-world skill that every person should have. So here are some suggestions for teaching your own kids this valuable life skill.
1. Pick up samples of grocery fliers from several different stores. Some stores also post their grocery fliers on their websites.
2. Look through the ads with your kids, pointing out and explaining the various ways sales are presented, such as:
- reduced price
- reduced price (if you purchase a minimum amount of other groceries)
- reduced price, but per pound, not per item.
- reduced price with store loyalty card. (This might be a good time to talk about how store loyalty programs work. You might even want to pick up some applications for these programs and have your kids practice filling them out!
- pseudo-reduced price; in other words, it appears at first glance to be a “sale” price, but it’s actually the store’s regular price for that product. (Wal-Mart does this a lot; they list many items in their weekly flier at their regular price. I’ve noticed that sometimes they even mark up their merchandise so they can put the items on “sale” in their flier.)
- percent off (explain how percent off a higher original price may not be a good deal)
- “2/$4,” “3 for $10,” etc.
- “Buy 10, and get $5 off” and similar promotions (this kind of pricing might take a little extra explanation)
3. Talk about how some stores may still require you to buy, for example, two items to get the 2/$4 price, although most allow you to buy only one of the items to get the sale price.
4. Explain restrictions in sales ads. Look for product-size restrictions or wording such as “on selected varieties” etc.
5. Have your kids look through several ads to find different sales prices for the same type of product. Then discuss how you might choose which item to purchase. Do you base it on price alone? Store location? The number of other items you will be purchasing at the store? etc.
COUPONS & DISCOUNT PROGRAMS
Explain what coupons are (have examples of coupons to look over), and then discuss the following.
1. Talk about how coupons actually work. For example, the manufacturer may pay the store the amount the product was discounted, or the store may simply discount the product for in-store coupons. Discuss the difference between manufacturer’s coupons and store coupons. Explain how you can often use both types of coupons on the same product to save even more money.
2. Discuss where you can obtain coupons. (e.g. newspapers, magazines, online, etc.)
3. Explain coupon expiration dates.
4. Talk about the various discount methods on coupons such as “Save $.25 on one,” or “Save $1 on two”
5. Discuss coupon doubling/tripling.
6. If you get really ambitious, you can explain how stores such as CVS and Walgreens work. (Their weekly fliers and discount programs are much more complicated than other stores.)
Take your kids shopping with you and have them help you comparison shop.
1. Give your kids a calculator and teach them how to figure unit pricing. To figure the COST PER UNIT, have them type in the total cost of the item, then divide by the size of the package (such as number of ounces). It’s easy to remember how to figure unit pricing if you think of it as a simple division problem.
Cost/Unit—read as “Cost Per Unit”—reminds you always to type the total cost first, then divide by the unit (ounces, pounds, etc.)
2. Talk about how you decide the size of package to purchase. For example, you could base it on:
- the unit pricing
- how perishable the item is
- amount of storage in your pantry
- how much of the item you need to use for planned meals
This post was originally published on my former blog, Homeschooling for the Real World.