Dear Shopping Savage,
Two years ago my husband got a promotion so he and I decided to uproot our pre-teenage son and daughter from the Midwest to the West coast. Now they're both in high school and my daughter has really gotten into fashion. Because of the school she goes to and the faster pace of living in a major city, she wants to shop at high-end boutiques and stores like her friends and classmates.
Its not so much a question of if we can afford to lavish her with these things, its more so a problem of her feeling entitled to these things. I want her to be happy and popular but to what expense? Can you help me figure out a way to curb her desire for designer clothing or should my husband and I just liquidate her - and her brothers! - college funds now to support this new lifestyle? And I'm just kidding about liquidating the college funds :)
Designer Daughter Dilemma
Teenagers being the bane of their parents' finances is nothing new. Truth be told, unless you planned to raise your kids in an antisocial vacuum, your daughter would have eventually found her way to fashion, even in the Midwest. Today's obsession with celebrity tweens, paparazzi and the magazines that chronicle their every move and purchase almost validates the concern teens have for wanting to own the latest and the greatest. In today's society, the expression "Keeping up with the Jonses" should be re-coined as the "Jr. Jonses," who have no problem spending money their parents are hesitant to part with in the midst of a downward-facing dog economy.
Which brings us to the next point. A teenager that doesn't have to work for their spoils will never fully understand the value of a dollar. So if she wants expensive items then suggest she get a part-time job. Most teens are pron to working retail or at places they're more apt to spend their free time, i.e. spend their money, so try to police her paycheck by requiring that she put a portion of it into a savings account that she can't touch. (And if you haven't figured this out yet then let it be known: teens can't be trusted. Even the good, responsible ones. Have her give you the agreed upon amount in cash or have it direct deposited when she gets paid to ensure the money is being saved. Once she graduates you can give her the lump sum you saved for her as a gift from herself. If nothing else, the final total should drive-home the lesson you were trying to teach her about money.)
If she balks at the idea of a part-time job then cap her monthly spending at an agreed-upon, specified dollar amount, or as it used to be called, "an allowance". Teach her that she can stretch her money by introducing her to second-hand boutiques that sell designer clothing, vintage shopping, thrift stores or DIY projects to mimic higher-end looks she loves or just to experiment.
Its vital for future generations to understand the value of money, the importance of savings, keeping a good credit history and not living outside their means. Easier said than done for most, but if you teach her how to modify her spending now you'll thank yourself later...especially as she gets older.
Hey, come to think of it, back in the 90's another (television) family had a very similar situation happen to them. It might not hurt to rewatch the series with your daughter - or make it something to view for family night. There are lessons to be learned from shows like this: most importantly, you don't want your daughter to turn out like Shannen Doherty - on the show, or in reality.
Have a fashion question? Need sartorial advice? Email me: Dwaun@shoppingsavage.com