It may not have been her plan, in fact I am sure it wasn’t, but there was one thing my mum did that taught me a lot about money. I think it may have also helped my maths and my mum’s sanity.

I was one of four kids and we were a little competitive with each other, alright… a LOT competitive with each other. So as I am sure you could image food shopping would have been a nightmare for my mum.

On top of that after she finished the shopping, it was a forty five minute drive from the shops home, in a car with us four rowdy kids.

However my mum had a strategy; I’m sure it was more about keeping us out of her hair while she was shopping and quiet on the way home in the car, but it taught me so much about money.

At the start of the shop, she told us we could spend one dollar on whatever we wanted.

I would like to note that this was twenty five to thirty years ago, so you could buy a lot more for a dollar then than you can now.

For the hour or so it took my mum to do her weekly food shop, us four kids would go from the soft drink aisle to the chip aisle to the lolly aisle and back around again trying to work out what we could get for our dollar.

Generally we would buy the same thing each week, but we didn’t rest on our laurels. We would go and check it all out, you know, just in case there were specials or the prices changed.

We would look at quality, compared to quantity, compared to price. If we got that drink, we could get those chips or that chocolate. Or do you get a bigger bag of chips and go without a drink. So many big decisions for a kid.

However it did teach me how to spend my money, hopefully wisely. How to get the most for my dollar, what is important. When is quantity more important than quality and vice versa.

Looking at the price and deciding if an item represented value.

This has then translated and impacted so many of my spending decisions later on in life.

All of this for a dollar a week and I am sure a bit of peace for my mum.

What did your mum do to teach you about money? Please share in the comments below.

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  • On our grocery days we were allowed a golden book each (@ 25c each in the 70s) and my sis & I thought they were awesome. I actually saved the better kept ones for my kids but the language was so outdated…..still a good read with Dick Dora Nip and Fluff though. Mum was a big believer in recycling and hand me down clothes too. Oh and I always remember her darning the holes in our socks which is something I would never do now (let alone know how to)


  • What a great idea. When I take kids shopping I say that they can each have one item but I’m going to change it nice and say they can each spend $1.should be interesting.


  • The importance of money is a good thing for kids to know, as long as they don’t value it over all things.


  • We never had much money growing up, the bare necessities and that’s all we got. We used to get 20c a week pocket money. I remember I saved so much, my bunyip money box was choc a block! It would take so long to save that many 20c, but I did it


  • Check if it’s on sale then we will think on it


  • I remember we had to save our pocket money to buy what we wanted. that way when we reached our goal we felt it was a big achievement. We weren’t given as much pocket money as other kids our age were, but we got the occasional treat which we always shared. We were taken out for day trips, some them to relatives and friends who live 2 or 3 hours away. It sometimes meant getting up early but at the end of the day we had a great time so it was always worth it. If we went on Saturday or during school holidays we could sleep in the next morning. This is something many families never do now. Some just don’t have the funds to do so. Nothing went on Store Card unless they got discount when paying the account on time which they always did. No credit cards. I now have Bank Debit cards which means I have to have the fund in my account to buy anything. I don’t like carry too much cash. There are a few places which don’t accept cards at all.


  • It’s amazing what you learn when your a child and how it impacts your future!


  • Very interesting article, thank you Sally.


  • I observed my Mum managing a pension to cover all the bills. She taught me to be sensible with money and I have been a great saver from my teens. From a little bit of money, I was always able to build my savings, something I still have to this day.


  • loved reading this article.


  • What a clever idea. And great way to learn the value of money with something they will relate to at the time!


  • Yes my mum showed us how to plan our shopping by let us decide our own meals with a given budget so we actually learned what to choose to satisfy our desire; and understand what we want is different than what we need.


  • wow…compared to my family you would have been considered rich. Funny how its all viewed differently by each person isnt it? We used to walk to the grocery store each week and if we were lucky we would get a little something of Mums choosing but most weeks we didnt get anything but that was ok because on Fridays we would go to my Grans and she would always have a packet of chips for each of us 3 kids, a chocolate dairy food and 10cents pocket money.
    When I was 11yrs old I worked in the weekends and after school to get spending money. I packed Rat poison…lol Learning how hard you had to work for the money and how expensive things were to buy was where i learnt about saving.


  • Love it and spot on! This is what I did as a kid and have passed onto my kids. It does work and is good for the budget. Kids learn to appreciate money and it is a practical way to teach kids about money.


  • Me and my 4 sisters got our weekly pocket money from a very young age. We would safe it up and use it to buy presents for each others birthdays and also for Xmas. When I was a teenager and left home to do a study, I got to use the child benefit my parents received for me. I had to pay my room, traveling costs, food, clothing and all what you need to live from that. I was so afraid that I wouldn’t have enough that I ended up with lots of money left over. It was a good lesson to spend money wisely.


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