Michelle Duggar Says Kids Need to Learn How to Barter

The Duggars believe in bartering.

Negotiating prices, yes – credit cards, no!

That’s the message Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar have imparted to their 19 children, and Michelle thinks more parents should build their kids’ bartering skills.

In her blog this week for TLC, the mom of 19 Kids & Counting says America has become “a debt society” because too many families pay on credit and then sink into a financial hole. “We are stressing ourselves financially to the point where we can’t really make ends meet every month,” she writes.

By “we,” she means Americans in general, not her family in particular. The Duggars live an entirely debt-free existence: They own their home and cars outright, and they save money on goods by buying almost everything second-hand.

Michelle and Jim Bob encourage their children to save their allowances and to do careful comparison shopping before buying anything for themselves. “I teach my kids that it’s perfectly acceptable to negotiate a price on something if you’ve done your homework….especially if you’re paying cash,” she says.

The Duggars are big fans of getting bargains on Craigslist (oldest son Josh just bought a backyard swing set on the site for only $25). But to make sure they get the best deal possible, they check around the site to see what similar items are selling for. Armed with that information, they’re not shy about going back to the seller and asking him or her to drop the price.

“The whole concept of bartering and negotiating is not even in our children’s minds anymore,” laments Michelle. “It’s become such a plastic credit-card mindset of not realizing how much you’re really paying.”

She adds that children appreciate their things much more when they’ve taken the time to work for their purchases and make sure they’re getting the best price.

Sound principles, to be sure. But we can’t help wondering whether the Duggars have ever found themselves ripped off by an unscrupulous Craigslist seller or a thrift-store buy that turned out to be a lemon.  Sometimes you really do get what you pay for.

What do you think? Should more kids learn the art of the deal?

[Photo: via TLC]

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