What are your back-to-school shopping rules?
Commercials make back-to-school shopping seem so fun and carefree. And while it can be a bonding experience, it can also easily become a money battle between parents and kids—especially when those kids become teenagers.
Now that my daughter’s starting ninth grade, this is the first year she’ll shop with friends, rather than me. I’d be nervous, but we actually had a trial run that helped. Last spring, she went to the mall with friends. Her latest growth spurt had left her four inches taller than me, so I gave her $60 for some much-needed clothes. But she came home with makeup! We had a long talk about wants vs. needs, and decided from now on, her allowance is for “wants” and I’ll cover “needs” like jeans, coats, and shoes—OK, fine, and makeup.
The issues are different for every family. I spoke to my friend Leslie who has twins entering high school. She’s decided to give her daughter, who loves clothes, a clothing allowance two times each year: back to school and spring/summer. (Not to include basics, like school and athletic shoes, jeans and a winter jacket.) Now that her daughter has to budget for her own purchases, she is torn about her shopping style. Should she buy several cheaper items for more variety or invest in a few pieces she loves? “I explain to her, ‘Look, you can get one shirt at Abercrombie & Fitch or three to four tops from Forever 21 for the same price,'” Leslie says. “‘And if you only get that one shirt, that’s it. Get ready to wear it a lot.'”
Back-to-school shopping inevitably leads to the allowance talk—and in this way, kids are just like adults: They want a raise! What’s a reasonable allowance for teens? Should it be doled out weekly or monthly or twice a year? Should it cover everything (basics and extras) or just frivolities? For now, I’m going to give Becca $14 each week ($1 per year old) and see how it goes.