It won't be long until it's back-to-school time - a time when parents and kids argue about what new, expensive clothes teens have their hearts set on buying before school starts. To reduce friction in the home and teach your teen about money and shopping, one solution is a clothing allowance.
What is a clothing allowance? Instead of picking out and paying for your teen's clothes, you regularly give an allowance and let him or her pick out their own jeans, T-shirts and dresses.
Here are 11 reasons why you'd want your teen to have a clothing allowance and what they can learn:
1. How to save for a purchase. If the allowance is the same each month they'll need to save for back-to-school and large purchases like a winter coat or a homecoming dress. This is the perfect opportunity to learn about expecting a big need and saving for it.
2. Gain experience in handling money. Begin by giving them the allowance in cash. Even in our cashless society, they need to know how to handle 10 and 20 dollar bills.
3. How to handle debit and credit cards. In a few years, put their allowance onto a debit card. Not only will they learn about PINs, but they'll also learn how to read an online statement. They'll deal with card security and other similar issues.
4. Take on increased responsibilities. As they get older you'll want to let them have more control over their wardrobe. The goal is to have them buy all their clothes by the time they leave home.
5. Make selective decisions. There are times in life when buying one item would prevent you from buying a second item. Your teen will be faced with that situation and will learn how to make decisions in either/or situations.
6. Make decisions within the rules. Just because you're not making all the buying decisions doesn't mean that you have no role in their clothing choices. You're still the parent. You still have veto rights for clothing that's inappropriate.
7. How to handle surplus. Hopefully your teen will have money left over at the end of most months. He or she will learn to avoid the temptation to shop and spend money just because it's available.
8. Overcome frustration. There will be times when they can't afford what they want. Unlike many adults who automatically pull out the plastic, your teen will learn that patience isn't as hard as it seems.
9. What to do with extra income. Allow them to add money from birthday gifts or part-time jobs to their clothing allowance. They'll learn that there are times when you have to increase your income to afford what you want.
10. How to be a good shopper. When the money runs low, your teen will likely turn to discount codes and thrift stores.
11. Develop creativity. A clothing allowance will help them to find ways to be stylish without spending a lot. And since trends change quickly, they'll learn not to spend a lot on a fashion that could be old tomorrow.
Gary Foreman is a former financial planner who founded The Dollar Stretcher website and newsletters. The site features articles on how to save your valuable time and money including an article on teen clothing allowances.
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