Please note that we are shopping with a budget not on a budget. To be clear this is not a post about thrifty shopping or saving money. It is actually a post about letting our kids spend money, but within a budget.
We’ve all experienced that must have item. You know the Esprit sweatshirt or the Girbaud jeans or the Air Jordans , but our moms said no because it was too expensive. We were mad at her and she was ruining our life. This budgeting technique allows the kids to have some control and manage the budget so mom is no longer the bad guy. ( This idea is the same theory as the Disney Dollars post.) Here is the plan:
Give your kids X amount of dollars to spend on school clothes. You can set the limit high or low, depending on your house- hold budget, but the same lessons can be learned. The kids can choose to bargain shop and get lots of clothes or they can choose to spend all their money on that must have item. They get to choose what is their priority: quantity, quality, brand names, style, etc. If possible, give them cash to work with. They can see when it’s gone, it’s gone.
Before you go shopping, assess what the kids need. Do this with your kids. Go through drawers and shoe bins and try stuff on and throw stuff out so they know what they have before they go shopping. Then generate a list together of what is needed: 1 pair of shoes, 2 shirts, 1 pair of jeans, etc. The list may help keep their shopping focused.
Now this budgeting method will only work if we (the moms!) don’t cave and buy them more if they have mismanaged their budget or if they didn’t buy what we wanted them to buy.
My sister, Angela, and I took Elle and my niece back to school shopping to try out this concept. We gave the girls a dollar amount and told them they could choose to spend their money how they wish. Kenzie got more money than Elle and Elle said, “How come Kenzie gets more money than me?” My response: “Kenzie’s clothes are bigger so they cost more… And Aunt Angela is richer than us.” (Lesson #1: We aren’t all living on the same budget, but we can all live within our budget.)
We took a little calculator along and it was fun to watch Elle add up totals and then subtract and deliberate and put clothes back. She was very thoughtful about every purchase.
I feel like the girls learned many valuable shopping lessons. They both learned about clearance and sale prices vs full price. They learned about coupons and promotions. They learned about name brand vs. generic. They learned to watch the register during check out because we were charged more for some things than the tag said. They learned how much clothes cost and how fast it adds up. And they learned that they couldn’t buy everything they wanted.
Despite Elle and I’s differences in style, I felt like it was a very successful shopping experience. (But we need to go out one more time because she still has $22 to spend and she still needs shoes.)
Maybe next year I can pull together a Back To School Shopping post that actually saves you money.