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Why a Clothing Allowance is The Best Gift You Can Give Your Kids--And Yourself

Updated on February 9, 2015

When my oldest daughter was in seventh grade I was feeling the pressure. If you have kids, particularly those about to enter middle school, you probably know what I'm talking about.

"Mom, Can I get a pair of Uggs this year?" Followed by, "Mom, NO ONE wears these jeans anymore. I don't want to shop at Target."

Now, up until this point my daughter was not the type to ask for a lot. She was smart, got good grades, helped out around the house and had a loving, caring heart. She also gave back a portion of her allowance to charity. This was a good kid, not a spoiled brat with a list of demands.

So I wanted to find a way to answer her from a thoughtful place, not an emotional one. Just saying "no" and "we can't afford it" were the answers I received from my parents. (I wanted real Levi's-not the generic brand.) It left me feeling frustrated and ashamed for asking--not to mention worried about finances.

I did not want to put that on our daughter when the truth was we were financially okay. But giving in and buying her a pair of $125.00 boots was not going to happen.

Peer Pressure Can be Overwhelming

Give Your Child Power And Responsibility

I understood that feeling of wanting to "fit in". Believe it or not, I remember middle school. I think wanting things that seem "cool" is a normal part of growing up. It just felt like this was a teachable moment and I had an opportunity to do more than just say "no".

One day, while walking with a friend of mine I mentioned my dilemma. She said "We just went through this last year with Ashley. We decided to give her a clothing allowance and it was the best thing we ever did."

A clothing allowance? I had never heard of such a thing. But my friend went on to say "It has put all the power in her hands. We don't fight about clothes anymore. We give it to her quarterly, and if she blows the whole amount on one pair of designer jeans, she can't buy anything else for three months."

This was beginning to sound interesting. It seemed like a great way to teach my daughter some valuable lessons about budgeting, as well as put the power and responsibility in her own hands.


Figure Out What Works For You

I went home and immediately began my own research on the subject. Soon afterward, I sat down with my husband and we looked at our year-end Visa statement to get an idea of what we were spending on her clothes. That helped us come up with a number that worked. (The amount is beside the point. Choose whatever works well within your budget.)

We decided quarterly disbursements worked best for us. In addition, we would pay for certain necessities outside of the allowance. items like socks, underwear, winter coats and athletic shoes. We also gave her one big caveat. We had veto power. She could not go out and buy clothing we didn't approve of! (This was a power we exercised more than once.)

I found the clothing allowance was a great gift not only to my daughter but to myself. I no longer had to be the mom constantly saying "no". Ironically, we also found we were spending a lot less on clothing than we previously had.


Take The Pressure Off Yourself

My daughters (the younger one also got a clothing allowance at 12), who are now in college, are savvy shoppers. They wait for sales, save their money rather than spend on impulse items and take responsibility for their own financial independence. (As much as they can in college, that is!) In addition, they've both held down jobs since they were 16.

Last week, my younger daughter told me she has friends who insist on shopping with her because they can't believe how many cute clothes she can buy without spending a lot.

That's when I really knew I made a good call.

* Recently, I found this great post called "How A Clothing Allowance Works." by Sheila Wray Gregoire. She has some awesome tips on how to set up a clothing allowance and implement it for your son or daughter.


The Top Ten Benefits Of A Clothing Allowance

1. Puts the power in your child's hands.

2. Takes the pressure off you.

3. Teaches your child about sales tax and budgeting.

4. Gives them a larger appreciation of what things cost.

5. Helps them become savvy consumers.

6. Their friends will be impressed by their shopping skills.

7. Teaches your children the difference between "wants" and "needs".

8. You will make fewer "emotional" purchases for them and actually spend less.

9. They learn financial responsibility at a younger age.

10. They will enter the "real world" already having life skills.

What Do You Think?

Would you give your child a clothing allowance?

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    • Ben Zoltak profile image

      Ben Zoltak 3 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      Yes, thank goodness for friends and their insight! Minnesota is doing so well now, congratulations on your new vibrant economy!

    • Tamirogers profile image

      Tami Rogers 3 years ago from Seattle, Washington

      Thanks so much Ben! You know I'm a Minnesota native..just noticed you're in Wisconsin..

      And yes--it really was an amazing idea--just wish it had been mine--have to give my friend all the credit. But hey, I was smart enough to listen, right?

    • Ben Zoltak profile image

      Ben Zoltak 3 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      Voted up and useful! A great idea, I love it! A little regulation goes a long way! What better way to hand over some control to our kids (while discreetly teaching them life skills) in your face old fashioned dictatorial parenting! Well done, I'm going to take this advice for my two youngest, too late for my teenager she just moved out haha.

      I'm a fan!


    • Tamirogers profile image

      Tami Rogers 3 years ago from Seattle, Washington

      Thanks so much @Au fait! I really appreciate it. I still thank my friend who told me about it..I think it may be the single best thing I did for my girls!

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 3 years ago from North Texas

      My daughter is all grown up, but I wish I had thought of this when she was becoming a teenager. It would have been such a help to her in learning how to manage money before she actually had to do it.

      This sounds like such a good idea for all the reasons you listed. This article is a great resource for parents! Pinned this to my 'Children' board.

    • Tamirogers profile image

      Tami Rogers 3 years ago from Seattle, Washington

      Thanks so much @FlourishAnyway! I love your twist on the idea. What we did was once they were old enough to work jobs, we reduced the amount they received. So important to give kids the tools to thrive in life.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      I'm glad you wrote a hub on this because it works really well as a teaching tool and parenting technique. I did this with my teen, too, a few years back when she was in eighth grade, and it's worked great for us. She now knows how to take advantage of store coupons, sales and BOGO events and understands how sales tax and percent off sales work. She can also see what buying for quality vs. popularity will get for you in the long vs. short run. Soon I am going to introduce a new twist to the scheme and let her earn her clothing allotment (rather than just giving it to her) based on grades. We'll see how that goes.

    • Tamirogers profile image

      Tami Rogers 3 years ago from Seattle, Washington

      Thanks @peachpurple. It really is an awesome teaching tool.

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 3 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      awesome tips that i should consider

    • Tamirogers profile image

      Tami Rogers 3 years ago from Seattle, Washington

      Thanks so much @ezzly..that's so kind of you..and nothing makes a mom happier than hearing affirmations!

    • ezzly profile image

      ezzly 3 years ago

      You must be a wonderful mother, I think a clothing allowance is fair and also teaches appreciation ! Great hub voted up!

    • Tamirogers profile image

      Tami Rogers 3 years ago from Seattle, Washington


      I agree with you as well. I totally stumbled on to this idea (thanks to a good friend) and now both my daughters really do thank me for it. And yes--I think one reason we have such a great relationship is there is a lot of trust there.

    • Tamirogers profile image

      Tami Rogers 3 years ago from Seattle, Washington

      @rebeccamealey ..thanks so much--and I agree!

    • sallybea profile image

      Sally Gulbrandsen 3 years ago from Norfolk

      I thought this was a great idea. I believe we should teach our youth at a young age how best to manage their money. I am sure your own children very much appreciate the trust you have placed in them to do it right.

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 3 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      I think a clothing allowance is a great idea for all the reasons you've stated!