Shopping for clothes with kids who love high-end clothes but have low-end budgets is so exhausting. Beginning in elementary school, every season I would dread going clothes shopping with the big kids. Bubba wasn’t too bad because his personality is generally more go-with-the-flow – and a typical boy when it comes to clothes. “Just get me this size, Mom.” But Bug and I would practically battle it out in the stores because I didn’t want to spend $50 on jeans that were only going to last the next couple of months before looking like high waters.
Shopping wasn’t a fun outing. It was an inevitable fight and silent treatment for the rest of the day.
How We Won the Shopping Battle
Mr. B and I finally decided to put the ball in their court. To allow them the ability to buy what they wanted…within limits we could live with.
1. We set a Budget for them
Mr. B and I revisited our budget and allocated a set amount for clothes shopping. When we told the kids how much money they had to spend on clothes, they were ecstatic. They couldn’t believe that they could finally buy the clothes they had been begging for the last several years.
2. We set clearly defined boundaries
We made sure the kids knew that the money wasn’t just being given to them to be used for whatever they wanted. Sure we were going to allow Bug to get some accessories but she wasn’t going to buy sunglasses or a gift for a friend or anything like that. This wasn’t their money to do with as they pleased.
We would approve the clothes. It’s incredible the design of clothes for young kids, even for young girls. Everything Bug tried on, I had to approve. We did the how-much-of-my-belly-will-show test, the is-my-junk-in-the-trunk-showing test, and the let’s-make-sure-noone-can-see-your-underwear test. We like to be thorough in the Bright House.
The money would cover everything they needed for the next season (including underwear, socks, etc.). If they decided to spend it all on one pair of jeans and some underwear, well, then we hoped they really loved that pair of jeans because they were going to be wearing them every day.
How Setting a Shopping Budget Taught More than We Expected
We never anticipated the changes we would experience by doing this. We noticed several unexpected lessons.
1. The kids learned to shop smart.
Because they wanted to buy as much as possible (mostly Bug), they learned to shop sale racks and even the local flea markets.
2. It drastically changed our time together.
Shopping became fun. They were responsible for how much money they had and learned to say no. I rarely told them ‘no’ once we implemented this idea. Even now, several years after implementing this plan, I still enjoy shopping with Bug. Remaining consistent over the years has been key. They know the expectations.
3. They learned it was more important to have enough clothes for the upcoming season than just have a particular name brand.
Suddenly, they didn’t care so much about buying those $50 jeans anymore. They started spending the money as if it were their money. Anything that was not pre-approved for the budget, they were more than welcome to spend their own hard-earned money.
The goal of shopping completely changed. Originally, the goal was to just get everything they needed for the next season. It was no wonder they couldn’t understand why they couldn’t get what they wanted. There are more important battles to fight other than what clothes to purchase during back-to-school shopping. Setting a budget and giving them ownership within limits changed everything. In more ways than we could have imagined.