Gary Foreman is a former financial planner who currently edits The Dollar Stretcher website and newsletters. He wrote "New Frugal You," a weekly Q&A column about frugal living, for CreditCards.comAsk a question
Dear New Frugal You,
daughter is 13. She's continually begging me for money for clothes. I want her
to be nicely dressed, but we can't afford to jump on every teen fashion trend.
The way she sees it every item is "must have" so I don't know where
to draw the line. Recently she suggested that I just give her $125 a month to
spend on whatever clothing she wants. Is giving her a clothing allowance a good
idea? -- Janice
a teen clothing allowance can be a very good idea. Shifting the decision making
to your daughter will reduce family friction -- and provide an excellent
look at some of the things you can do to make a clothing allowance for your
teen a success.
by setting up some rules. What items will she be responsible for? Will she buy
shoes? Winter coats?
How much will she get? And how often?
her know that she'll be making her own choices. Not only in terms of what to
buy, but where to buy it.
will want to maintain the right to veto any purchase that you feel isn't
appropriate for her age. Make that clear from the beginning.
don't exercise the veto just because you don't like her style choices. Teens
have always dressed different from their parents. The goal is to allow her to
learn what styles work best for her.
her know that you're open to giving advice, but that you won't dictate choices.
allowance should not be big enough to buy anything she wants. That would
actually defeat the purpose of the allowance. You want to force her to decide
between what she really wants and what she can live without.
surprisingly, your teen's suggestion for a clothing allowance is high.
According to U.S. Census Bureau statistics, in 2010 an average mid-income family (with
income between $57,000 and $99,000) spent $820 (or $68 per month) on clothing
for a 12- to 14-year-old. What she's asking would be above the average for even
families with incomes over $99,000.
to help teach your teen how to stretch her clothing allowance. Show her how to
shop clearances and at consignment and resale stores. At first she'll probably
reject these suggestions. But when she really wants something that's not within
her budget, she'll be more open to new shopping tricks.
too, that she use
technology to find clothing bargains. She could be better at using discount
codes than you are. She might also be aware of how many clothing deals can be
her to create her own style. You won't like some of her experiments. But if she
develops her own look, she'll be freed from the current trends.
her to make mistakes. You will be tempted at some point to step in and forbid
her to make a bad purchase. Don't do it. First, you'll be breaking your promise
that she has control over the money. Second, you'll keep her from learning
valuable lessons about money.
major goal of any teen clothing allowance is to help your children learn how to prioritize their purchases. Help your daughter learn how to tell the difference between wants and needs. She
has the opportunity to learn that a winter coat is a need and an expensive
party dress is a want.
also have the opportunity to learn that trendy clothes are just that: trendy.
And, what's trendy today will be
out of style tomorrow. Like milk, trends have an expiration date.
her to swap clothes with friends. Swaps work especially well if a whole group
of friends join in. Offer to help her host a swap-party.
on making periodic adjustments to your teen's clothing allowance. As she gets
older you'll want to give her more money, responsibility and freedom. Consider
getting her a debit card when she's 16 or 17.
her the option of making some money to add to her clothing budget. Some families
allow their teens to earn money by doing additional chores at home. Others
prefer to encourage teens to look for work outside the home. Working will help
her to understand where money comes from.
A teen clothing allowance can be a wonderful tool, and
not just to help reduce friction in your family. It can also help your teen learn
financial skills that every adult needs.
See related: Tips for teens: Stretch that clothing allowance
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