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REAL Home Economics from a frugal, practical, fiscally savvy working mom.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Preventing arguments over clothes... use a budget

When my daughter hit middle school she also became more fashion conscious and brand aware.  At the same time, I became more aware how fast a college bill would be hitting us.  To reconcile the competing financial strains and teach budgeting and value I came up with the following solution --- a separate 'tween' clothing budget.

We sat down together and created a spreadsheet itemizing her clothing needs (after inventorying her closet).  We also took into consideration that she was probably going to need two sets of clothes to make it through the school year given her rapid growth rate.  We discussed and agreed upon the average cost* of each type of item. Then, she plugged it in the spreadsheet and I showed her how to do cell equations, copy & paste and column sum. After rounding up the total she liked the $ amount ...it was a lot more than she'd thought she'd get and was psyched to go shopping!

*Average Cost =  Mall Store + Old Navy on-sale price divided by 2 

Now, when she wants to buy something crazy-expensive there isn't an argument.  She understands she'll have to offset it with a super-sale item or do with less ex., one less pair of pants.  After purchases I hand her the card with the spreadsheet printout and she subtracts the cost from each line item.  She knows I'm a tough cookie and that if she spends it all in the Fall there will be no budget override in the Spring.  (She does have a March birthday as a safety net.)

The outcome:
  • She shops very carefully and looks for sales & clearance.
    Last year she decided to hold off on lots of back-to-school clothes so she could see what other kids were wearing and get them on sale! (Good decision since she grew 2" from Sept-Dec.)
  • She better understands want vs. need.
  • She's had buyer's remorse and I didn't have to save a word.  That expensive "great" sweater she wore twice before it was too small still hangs in her closet as a reminder.
  • She learned Excel and a practical use for math.
  • She had leftover $ at the end of the year!  
    I let her roll it on top of this year's budget so she could buy something awesome when she found it.
BTW - I also have some fashion guidelines in place for what I consider age/school appropriate so it's not complete free reign.  She knows the guidelines and is still a rule follower so, it prevents augments too.

Happy shopping,
Practical Jenn

1 comment:

  1. Jenn, this is still one of my favorite ideas and we are going to implement this as soon. Would love to learn more. Interested in your fashion guidelines. Also, would love to have a little info from your daughter's perspective...:) your bookclub mate