I remember reading Amy Dacyzyn’s book The Tightwad Gazette many years ago. Amy herself had said people were tee heeing at her about what would happen when her kids turned into teenagers and started wanting name brand clothing and such. I tee heed myself, since my mom was never one to care much about name brand clothing, and I turned out to be a major clothes horse.
Finally, my mom sent one of her best dressed friends out shopping with me, and she taught me the joy of thrift stores and clearance shopping. Finally I was able to wear the name brand clothing that I so desired. By the time I was 16, I had gotten a job and spent all my money on clothes- I didn’t wear the same outfit twice my junior year of high school. Then we moved and I had to move all that clothing, and I realized more is not necessarily better.
Fast forward to now. I have a 14 year old son who also adores clothing. “I’ll only wear Abercrombie, Hollister, or American Eagle,” he says. Yikes. But I understand that, having been there myself as a teenager. What’s a frugal mom to do?
I gave him a set budget of what I could afford to spend on school clothing for him. He looked at me, appalled. That money wouldn’t go very far at his favorite stores. Then I suggested we go to Plato’s Closet first. Plato’s Closet is a high end consignment shop mainly aimed at the teen and early twenties set. What’s really cool about it is that you can sell the stuff you already have that no longer fits, you hate wearing, or otherwise don’t want anymore. And then you can buy more name brand, fabulous stuff.
My son was pretty happy with this arrangement. He’s funny about “used clothes,” as he calls them. But finding Abercrombie shirts for $7 quickly changed his mind about “used clothes.” He spent much of his budget there and then hit American Eagle and Hollister for the remainder.
What was cool about this was being able to teach him how to budget and get the most for his money. If he had bought full price clothing at his chosen stores and had never gone to the consignment store, he would have been able to buy very little, indeed. He saw that and made his own choices- good choices.
Having a teenager is expensive, there’s no getting around that. But you can stay within what you can afford, if you just teach your kid to live within their means.