To say that back to school clothing shopping can be a challenge is the UNDERSTATEMENT OF THE YEAR. Back to school clothes shopping can be tricky as the kids get older. Some kids find that fashion is very important to how they feel going to school. So how do you balance your budget and their desire to have clothing that is in style? There are a few things that I learned raising my boys that I wish I would’ve known earlier, and I’m going to share them with you today.
- I always had the boys try on ALL their clothes in August to see what fit and what needed replacing. After completing the list, what I found is that their pants/jeans were the item that needed replacing most frequently.
What I wish I would have learned sooner is to wait to purchase new pants/jeans or to only purchase one pair in August. Here in the Pacific Northwest, it can be shorts weather all the way through September and part of October, so buying pants/jeans in August gave the boys 2 more months of growing and the newer jeans/pants sometimes were too small by the time they really needed them.
- I bought the boys new shirts – I would purchase long sleeve, short sleeve, and sweatshirts all at the same time.
What I wish I would have done sooner is waited to buy the long sleeve. I found that my boys NEVER wore long sleeve shirts. They just sat in the drawer, taking up space.
- I usually went shopping with, or sometimes for, the boys and would buy clothes for them.
What I wish I would have done sooner is give them a specific dollar amount for clothing and have them purchase the items they need throughout the year. They would go through phases where some things were super cool and they would get all focused on buying that specific item, like wanting a pair of high end jeans or shoes. Giving them a clothing allowance created a defined budget for them and gave them the option to buy those specific items with the awareness that they may not be left with enough money for other items.
Giving your kids a clothing allowance gives them a better understanding of how much things actually cost. It empowers them to figure out for themselves how to make sure that they can get the things that they want, and shows them that if they spend the money on a more expensive item that they want, they then have to either budget or find something that is less expensive for other items. It allows them to become responsible for making sure they’re living within their means, which is a beautiful gift to give your kids.
I have seen teens get really resourceful and spend the majority of their money on one specific item and then head to a second hand store for shirts, accessories, and other items. Giving your child a limit helps them think ahead of the items that they will need and shows them the value of looking at averages when spending.
I remember when I was a young child, my mom would give me money to go clothing shopping and off to the store I would go. I would ride my bike and I would do my own clothing shopping, knowing I only had a specific amount, so I would look for things on sale if I wanted something that was really fancy and a little bit more expensive. This also taught me how to prioritize what was most important to me. Too many times we can get sucked into the peer pressure of dressing a specific way, or having specific items. But when we have a limited amount of money to spend, we are able to better prioritize and differentiate what we need from what we want.
Many of us are not taught these lessons and skills when we are young. So, although it can feel like you’re being the bad guy because you’re only giving your kids a specific amount to go shopping with, what you’re actually doing is teaching them a life lesson that a lot of us don’t get until later on in life when we are struggling to unburden ourselves financially. You will reduce their stress in life significantly by teaching them these lessons (that most of us have had to learn the hard way) at a young age.
By trusting your kids with their own back to school clothing shopping budget, you are teaching your kids how to be financially responsible and building their confidence in knowing how to live within their means. I also motivate my kids by telling them that whatever they don’t spend is their money to keep, giving them the option to not buy any brand new back to school clothing so that they can purchase what they would like throughout the year, or waiting until the items they really want are on sale!