This year was the first year that my husband and I joined forces in our school clothes shopping quest.
With two teenagers and a pre-teen, we knew that this endeavor had the potential to get very costly very quickly. In previous years, we would buy the clothes that we felt that our kids needed based on their basic needs. For example, jeans, a pair of shoes, a few polo shirts, etc.
This year, our kids had very clear ideas on what they wanted to wear. Each one had their individual style. We designed a simple plan: we offered $225 per kid for clothes and shoes. This may seem like a lot. But consider that a pair of shoes alone can cost from $60 to $100. My 13-year-old son wears a men’s 12 in shoes, and they are not cheap.
We also allowed them to use up to $50 of their own money to add to their budget if they wanted. So now, all three kids were armed with $275 each, and ready to do battle at the mall.
This is where the money lessons that we have taught — both intentionally and by example — came into play.
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Our 13-year-old son, who is three months older than our 13-year-old daughter, bought all of his clothes on clearance at a department store. His style is typically a t-shirt and jeans, though he wears the occasional button-down shirt.
He bought a pair of name-brand running shoes on clearance that matched most of his clothes. He spent a total of $215. Then, he requested that the remaining $60 be put back in his bank account.
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The Impulse Shopper
Our daughter picked out a Cleveland Cavaliers jersey with her name printed on the back. Then she bought a pair of $125 dollar tennis shoes, endorsed by Stephan Curry. With the $70 leftover, she bought a pair of sweat pants, jeans, a sweatshirt, and gym shorts from a discount store. I took her through the Panera bread drive-thru. She put down $2.21 of the last three dollars still in her pocket for a French toast bagel.
After lying low and watching the older kids spend their money, our 10-year-old followed the path of our older son. He bought a pair of shoes on clearance for $50. Then he bought t-shirts and jeans on clearance at a department store. In total, he spent $225, leaving him with his $50.
He asked for a ride to target and bought something for the Xbox that, to my amazement, totaled $50 exactly.
Comparing Different Money Personalities
Here is how I look at their behavior, as a mother and a personal finance writer: My older son's motivation was to end with more money than he started with (something that I would do). His younger brother's intention was to have enough money left over to purchase something that he had been wanting for a while (something that I would have advised).
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Our daughter, on the other hand, was more interested in getting the things that she wanted immediately, right now. It was almost as if she was afraid that it would disappear if she didn’t grab it right then and there.
I can guess that living in a house with five other people can make you a little cautious of the possibility that there won’t be enough left over if you want a little more of anything.
My oldest son has repeatedly asked for his $60 for various things, all of which I have said I will think about. He eventually forgets. My younger son was disappointed in the Xbox accessory he bought. He has been vocal about wishing he had saved his money like his brother.
And my daughter now regrets spending on the things at the discount store. Instead, she wishes that she had bought a pair of Elite socks ($24). There you have it. My three children, all wishing they had done something different after the money has been spent. But they’re getting there!