Recently, I received an email from a mother who wanted to buy some summer clothes for her children. Her problem, one that many families face, is that her son claims he needs to have expensive brand name clothes and shoes so that he can be “accepted” by his clique of friends.
I once had a client who had an unexpected expense one month, she had to buy clothes for her son. I asked her how old he was, expecting her to say 25, but she said that he was 14. So I explained that buying him clothes is not an unexpected expense, that a growing teenager needs clothes. So what do we do if your child asks for expensive brand name clothes? First and foremost, you have to check your clothes budget and see whether you can afford these clothes, by working with a budget, you will be surprised what you can afford.
A great way to deal with this challenge and to boost their child’s self-esteem and self-confidence, while also increasing their financial IQ, is to involve them in the decision process of buying clothes. Explain to them how large their budget for their clothes is, which is divided into top and bottom apparel, shoes and outer apparel. Explain to your children how much is available for each item, and make a list of everything they need to buy. Allow them to prioritize and decide what is really important to them.
Maybe your son really wants a certain brand name of jeans, and is prepared to take cheaper T shirts to “afford” those jeans. If your daughter has her heart set on a specific pair of shoes, find ways to cut back on some of the other clothes that need to be bought. If you think the child’s priorities are wrong, explain it to them, but it is important to respect their opinions, and allow them some degree of choice.
For older children, let them make the priority list of what they need and what they want. You can give them the budget to let them spend how they want, with the condition that all items on the list must be bought. You will be surprised how resourceful children can be when given this task. NOTE: Parents need to use their discretion to determine whether their child can go shopping by themselves.
However, if your child still insists on brand name items, and the amount that you have budgeted does not cover their desires, encourage them to work so that they can afford to buy the clothes they really want. Remember, when a child earns some money, encourage them to put a percentage into savings.