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Family Money

So your kids just got $20 from grandpa and it is burning a hole in their pockets. They are begging you to take them to the toy store now to buy a new game. But how do you explain to them that their new-found wealth can go so much further with a little research and patience?

In my son's case, he wanted a game for his Leap Pad—a game he's wanted since he saw it on his best friend's last summer. It is not unusual for us to make him wait for big-ticket items, it teaches patience and shows us if he really wants it. And he does. It's on his wish list for his birthday in March!

If your kids really want something, helping them to make good spending decisions isn't difficult. Try these tips:

Waiting Game. Consider the monetary value of the purchase. If the item costs $10, then wait three days, wait a week for $20 , two weeks for $50 and one or more months for a $100 purchase. This ensures that your child will either have real incentive to earn and save his money for the item or forget he ever wanted it.

Price Comparisons. The game she wants retails for $25. Explain how much the game costs and how much she has in her hand. Figure out if she has enough money to purchase it and, if she doesn't, she can't buy it today. Then check an online tool or app, such as Red Laser or Price Check by Amazon, to see if a cheaper price is available. Sometimes buying online is cheaper than buying in the store, but be sure to calculate shipping fees when comparing prices.

Give. Save. Spend. How does he get the $25 game for $20? We ordered the game online even though he has to wait a few more days for the game to arrive and has to pay shipping costs, but in the end he saves $5 by taking the time to research and exercise patience.

Make shopping a game. Your children will soon realize using coupons, online price comparison shopping, and buying off-brand items will keep their hard earned money in their pocket and allow them to buy more stuff.

Nikki Ducas is a Fredericksburg mom of two boys, a 5-year-old and 18 month year-old. She is always thinking about economics and uses her time as teachable moments.

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