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