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A Musing About "Wants"

I bet about this time of year you are tired of hearing “I want …” from your kids. When my daughter was young, I got really tired of it, especially when it referred to clothes. I like clothes, too, and am willing to indulge my inner diva. So, I understand I may have been an enabler, but it needed to be controlled.

When she was about 11 years old she was given a monthly clothes allowance.  The rules were simple:

  • If it shows (ie, underwear doesn’t count), you buy it.
  • Exceptions: winter coats, special event outfits and 2 pairs of shoes a year.

Cut and dry. No more arguments. She had a VisaBuxx card that refilled each month. Although unspent money could be carried over, there was no borrowing ahead. When it was gone, it was gone.

Shopping with her became a pleasure. Suddenly, she evaluated her purchases.

  • Would she wear it often?
  • Did it go with other things she already owned?
  • How well was it made?

I knew it hit home when we were shopping for a special event outfit and I had to nix her choice. But, I graciously said she could buy it with HER money. She said “No, it isn’t worth it.“ Aha! If it isn’t worth your money, then it isn’t worth mine!

Of course, she learned the expected:

  • money-doesn’t-grow-on-trees
  • budgeting
  • self-control
  • evaluating purchases

But, the biggest surprise was what I learned?

Kids can respect rules and meet expectations.

  • Kids truly value the things they work for.
  • (Tough one.) Not to offer my opinion until asked.
  • (Tougher one.) To let her make mistakes and live with them.
  • (THE toughest one.) She is growing up.

Now, when we shop, there are many times we look at each other and simultaneously wink as we say “would you spend your money on this?”