Teach your kids the value of a dollar, save big and even have fun together shopping BTS
A typical American family will spend between $220-$240 on back-to-school clothes this fall, according to the National Retail Federation. That’s not a lot, when a must-have for your middle-schooler is a closet full of designer denim and your 9-year-old insists on whatever pricey item is all the rage in your town. Your budget won’t go far in the mall like that! What’s a parent to do?
Take the opportunity to teach
your kids good budgeting and shopping habits, easy as 1 – 2 – 3:
1. Get ready
Decide what you’ll be shopping for before you step out of the house. Inventory what the kids have and list what they need. Now’s the perfect time to talk about needs versus wants.
Explore alternatives together, on line and in magazines. Better to do this in the privacy of your own home than in the middle of the mall where her friends might see her!
Now, set a realistic family budget. Once you have it down in black-and-white, it’s easier to discuss how the money can be allotted. If she’s truly insistent that only the most “in” brand will do, discuss how much you are willing to pay for a given item, and whether she is willing to use her savings to finance the difference.
2. Get set
Planning your outing, once you have a list of what your children need, comes next.
Do back-to-school shopping one child at a time. There’s nothing that is guaranteed to make you cave and spend too much as that bored second child whining Are we done yet? at your elbow while Child Number One throws the (you knew it was coming) tantrum.
Remember that your child has an individual style. It may not be yours, but if it’s not offensive to the family’s values, and allowed by the school dress code, relax and live with it.
Keep the trip short.
If you tend to overspend, take your budgeted amount in cash, leaving the credit cards home. If your child is responsible, hand the cash in an envelope to her, and have her write down the cost of each item as it is purchased.
3. And Go!
But go where? If you take your child to the mall, the budget will be blown before your shopping list is finished. Taking some children to discounters might work when they’re young and believe everything you tell them…. but that doesn’t work past about age six nowadays. They’d rather go naked than walk down the school hall in a cheap knock-off.
So what’s a loving parent, who wants only the best for the kids, and who wants to raise them right, to do?
Take your children to the hippest resale shop in town. Take ‘em to two or three. Show them that yes, there are brand-name jeans and hoodies at prices that fit the family budget. Watch them as they manage the budget envelope. You’ll soon see that a bargain is as thrilling to them as it is to you!
If a little more money is needed in the back-to-school clothing budget, show your children how they can recycle their gently-used outgrown items by consigning or selling last year’s faves to the shop. The financial lessons learned will benefit your children all your life.
No need to be quite so strapped budget-wise, in your family? Congratulations! But I guarantee that once your child gets a taste of I can have three for the price of one, you’ll both be back in the resale shops often. And you’ll be teaching your children that the value of a possession is how much it’s liked, not how much it costs.
And who knows what might happen in a resale shop? You may have the pleasure of seeing your follow-the-crowd middle-schooler craft her own unique style in front of your very eyes, once she spots a vintage top to wear with leggings, and watch her grin when she snags the very Louis Vuitton bag you were trying to decide upon yourself!