Money management is a skill that kids should learn sooner rather than later. It can be a boring math exercise, or a real-world adventure.....I promise, you'll both prefer the same method!
We've taught the kids to shop thrift stores and garage sales - just because it isn't new doesn't mean it isn't valuable. In fact, most of the new stuff these days is much junkier, since they just don't make goods with the same quality anymore.
We've taught them to save up their money if there is a large purchase that they want to make. They've held bake sales at our own garage sales, and historically done quite well!
With the cold weather, we wanted to do a field trip that was both fun and educational, so we got together with friends and set up a shopping trip to the city. The moms needed to get some shopping done, and the kids needed a break from the monotony of curricula.
Our first stop was the mall, where we hit three different stores, one of which was the Lego Store. We gave the kids a worksheet, tailored to their grade level, and had them "go shopping." You should have seen their faces when we told them that they had $100 to spend at the mall....and then went on to explain that it was just pretend. Poor guys, they were momentarily thrilled at the prospect of getting big Lego sets! (We did let them get minifigures...)
They were required to 'buy' something from each store, figure in the taxes, and attempt to get as close to $100 as possible. This was a good exercise in budgeting, and taught them that some of their favorite things can add up quickly!
After leaving the mall, we went to the Science Museum to burn off some energy in the gymnastics area and at the treehouse. Lucky us - there was a also travelling MC Escher exhibit!!!
If you'd like to take your kids on an Economics Field Trip, here are some resources to use. I've uploaded a blank pdf of the worksheet that we took to the mall.