What’s your reaction to this clothing budget for an older teenage girl?
Here’s one of my favorite approaches to teaching kids how to spend wisely: put them in charge of a fixed budget for a specific area of spending. For teens, my wife and I always pick clothing first. It’s a well defined area. It’s a "need" that can quickly morph into a “want”. It’s something that most teens care about a great deal. It’s prone to lots of impulsive decision making and peer pressure. It’s often an emotional friction point between teens and their parents.
In other words, it’s a perfect opportunity for teaching your kids some fiscal discipline in a hands-on way.
Here’s our simple approach:
Have your teenager submit a formal annual clothing budget proposal
List each line item with estimates of typical price and quantity. This tends to be a real eye opener for the teen and even the parent!
Revise the budget proposal until it’s appropriate.
What’s appropriate? It depends upon your family’s financial situation, your family’s values, where you live, and numerous other factors. This phase invariably leads to meaningful parent-child dialog and greater common understanding. It’s a good idea to record some simple explanatory notes along with your final budget. The historical record can come in handy if (when) spending gets off track later.
Establish a regular allowance that matches the overall budget.
The allowance can be weekly, monthly, yearly, or whatever. We like to create an annual allowance and fund the clothing expense account all up front. This challenges our teenagers to handle a large chunk of money wisely over a long period of time. That’s a skill that takes some trial and error to master.
Track the balance and step aside.
Keep track of the running balance in the clothing account and, otherwise, leave the decision-making up to your teen. Well, for the most part. You’ll probably want to set a few basic ground rules up front about what’s off limits. Do what makes sense for your family. But, by all means, let them make the inevitable poor decision here and there. Let them experience the consequences. Make sure they clearly understand one hard and fast rule up front: when it’s gone, it’s gone.
Want to explore the topic more deeply? Here are two excellent resources:
- Clothing Budget Discussions on Berkeley Parents Network
- Teen Clothing Allowance on DollarStretcher.com
How do you handle purchasing clothes with your teen?
How would you revise the sample budget at the top of this post?