By Sarah Hamaker
Q: My teenage daughter refuses to wear anything not in the latest fashion or designer label. However, we can’t afford to buy the labels she wants to wear. Is there a solution to our fashion crisis?
A: I think this is one problem that impacts nearly every family with teenagers. Teenagers have an innate desire to fit in with their peers, and for many, that means dressing the same. But here’s a solution that won’t break the bank—and will make your teen happy.
First, figure out approximately how much you spent last year on clothes, entertainment, meals out, etc., for your teen. Then look at your overall budget and come up with a number for the year that you can afford to spend on those things. Divide that number by 12 and that’s her new monthly allowance. Then open a checking account for your daughter, and deposit that allowance amount there on the first of every month.
Second, sit down with your daughter and explain what you expect her to use the new allowance amount for: entertainment and food for herself (if she takes a family member, like a sibling, along with her, then you’ll pay for both of them). Tell her you’ll still pay for clothes, but only for the non-name brand items that she needs. For example, if she’s outgrown her winter coat, you head off with her to Kohl’s and pick out a coat in your price range. If she says she instead wants a name-brand coat from another store, you give her the cash for the coat you would have bought and let her make up the difference from her allowance. However, remind her that you still retain veto power over any clothing choice, whether she bought it with her own money or not.
Third, remind her that there are no overdrafts or borrowing against next month’s allowance. What’s in the bank is what she has to spend. If she overdraws the account, you will take the bank fee, plus a $25 fee for your inconvenience, right off the top of next month’s allowance.
Then stick with it. She’ll start making hard decisions about what she wants to spend her money on, and learn about budgeting and delayed gratification. In turn, you’ll be freed from arguments over clothing and the constant request for money. Sounds like a win-win situation to me.
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Sarah Hamaker is a certified Leadership Parenting Coach™ through the Rosemond Leadership Parenting Coach Institute. She’s also a freelance writer and editor. Sarah lives in Fairfax, Va., with her husband and four children. Visit her online at www.parentcoachnova.com and follow her on Twitter @novaparentcoach.