Teaching Kids About Shopping for Clothing

It benefits children to spend their own money on necessities -- they will learn to budget their money and to spend it wisely.

Teaching Kids About Shopping for Clothing

Whether your child pays for his clothes out of an allowance, spending money specifically for clothes, or personal earnings, having the responsibility of purchasing his own clothes will teach many things.

  • Budgeting money. If your child has to buy a variety of clothes, she'll have to learn that she can't blow it all on a fancy pair of boots, leaving nothing in reserve for underwear. Or, he'll have to decide whether to spend a lot on one good pair of pants or several less pricey ones.
  • Shopping for values. If your child knows that there's only so much to spend on clothes, he'll become a better shopper. He'll look for sales, compare prices, and avoid impulse buying. Today, it's easy to buy even name brands at a discount through outlet malls, through catalogs, and even on the Internet.
Watch Your Step

Don't be overly critical of your child's taste in the clothing she's bought (as long as it doesn't involve choices that you really object to, such as bustiers for a 14-year-old). This is part of her chance to express herself. In general, limit your comments to the financial aspects of her choice. Did she spend too much for what she bought? Did she find good value?

Piggybank on It

Suggest that your child try on what's in his closet to see what still fits and then make a list of what's needed. This will keep him from spending all the allotment on jeans and sweat shirts when what he really needs is a new sports jacket.

Big Things Versus Little Things

According to a survey on teens and money by Weekend USA, only 9 percent of teens thought they should be responsible for the cost of their clothes and shoes. As a parent, you may feel differently. Clothing is a big category, and you might want to shift some spending responsibility to your child without dumping the whole category on his shoulders.

Here are some arrangements you can use to split clothing purchase responsibilities:

  • Start little. Let your child shop for one needed item, and see how well he does. If he needs sneakers, you might give him a spending allowance of up to $100 and then let him decide on the pair to buy. Maybe he'll find a $50 pair he wants, or maybe he'll find a $100 pair on a 50 percent sale. Or, maybe he won't find anything in the price range you've targeted and will have to face doing without what he wants.
  • Season by season. Consider giving your child a wardrobe allowance for a season (for example, $500 for back-to-school clothes, if you can afford this amount). She'll have to decide what she needs and how to fill that need.
  • Split responsibility. Maybe you'll pay for the big-ticket items, such as a coat. Your child then becomes responsible for the smaller things, such as jeans or socks.
  • Extras. You might agree to continue paying for needed clothing, such as a new pair of shoes. If your child wants anything above and beyond the basic wardrobe, he's on his own.