# Practicing Cost with Christmas Catalogs

Christmas season is upon us again, and if your house is anything like mine, you are overflowing with sales flyers.  The flyers are full of fun toys and interesting games and gadgets for kids.  Instead of trying to hide those flyers from your children, why not use them to practice finding the true cost of an item.

## The True Cost with Sales Tax

Children often forget about the fact that sales tax can increase the cost of an item.  For example, a child has a dollar to spend and can’t understand why he cannot afford the 99 cent toy he so desperately.   Christmas flyers can be a great way to help your child getter a better grasp on an item’s cost with tax.

Let your child pick out several toys they want from a catalog.  Have them figure out the cost of each item with sales tax.  The formula is simple.

• Turn the sales tax percentage in your state into a decimal fraction by moving the decimal place two places to the left.  (6% would become .06)
• Multiply the listed cost of the toy by the new decimal fraction.  (If your toy costs \$14, multiply 14 x .06 to get 0.84)
• This answer is the sales tax your child will have to pay for the toy.  Add the sales tax cost to the original item price. (\$14 + \$0.84 = \$14.84)  This answer is the total cost of the toy.

## The True Cost after Sale Prices

Another concept that children struggle to master, is figuring out how much an item will cost if it is on sale.  Understanding the difference between an original price and the sale price can also help children see the value of buying items on sale instead of full price.

• Choose items that are advertised as being on sale.  If the catalog doesn’t give the original price, you may need to do some online research to figure out the full price.
• Your child can subtract the sale price from the original price to find out how much money they would have saved by buying it on sale.
• If the item is a certain percentage off (like 20% off), multiply the original price by the decimal value of the percentage.  (A \$100 item on sale for 20% off means multiplying 100 x 0.20 = 20.)  Subtract the answer from the original cost of the item (\$100 – 20 = \$80).  This answer is the sale price of the item.

Finding the cost of items is a real life skill that is necessary for adulthood.  And what more enjoyable way is there to practice it than by working with the very toys you are hoping to get for Christmas?  How do you help your children learn to work with money?