Topic 6: Consumerism

Here is an exercise that helps with Mathematics skills. It also helps kids to realise that they have unlimited wants, but they have limited resources. They can’t have everything they want so they must prioritise and compromise….

Perhaps in the lead up to their birthday you could take your child to the toy shop. Make it clear that no money will be spent on this trip. Have them make a list of items they would like to buy that add up to a given amount of money.

For example, if you gave them a target of $50 and it had to be spent on at least 3 items, what might they do with the money? They must present you with three potential shopping lists with different purchase combinations that get them to within $5 of the allocated amount, and then choose which option they like best and explain why.

Here’s one idea while we’re talking about lunches: Give them the job of preparing their own school lunches. They might whinge and moan for a while until it becomes a habit and a part of normal life for them, but they will get used to it. If you do this, they will have the habit and probably do it all their lives, and that will save them heaps! If you wanted to introduce that softly, you could start with the rule of ‘one day a week’ up to a certain year level, and ‘two days a week’ the next year, ‘three days a week’ the next, and so-on up to ‘5 days a week’.

Our world is so built around ‘consumerism’ that you will also have to work hard on your own ability to withstand the constant flow of messages, both covert and overt, tempting and inviting you to abandon your money plans for immediate gratification.

Make sure you set a good example!

By the time they reach adulthood your kids should know…

  • The role their emotions play in making financial decisions
  • The difference between an Asset and a Liability
  • Examples of buying assets and liabilities
  • That new gadgets come and go all the time and they do NOT have to own them ALL. They will be out of date quickly and probably fail almost as quickly. They will also be available second-hand and quite likely in perfect working order for less than half price soon enough on social media sites such as Facebook Marketplace.
  • The benefits of planning purchases rather than making spur of the moment decisions
  • The benefit of giving themselves a cooling off period by walking away with the promise to themselves that they can return to make the purchase the next day
  • The difference between short-term pleasure and long-term satisfaction
  • That everything they want to purchase has more than one price
  • The fact that they can save a lot of money by shopping smarter
  • The high cost of Convenience
  • The benefit of taking their lunch to work every day
  • The fact that everything is on sale sooner or later so do not pay full price.
  • That every price is negotiable
  • The cost of wastage
  • The benefit of purchasing fewer higher quality items


Lower Primary School Years:

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Upper Primary School Years:

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Lower High School Years:

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Upper High School Years:

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