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Back To School Shopping Budget



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Hollister, Juicy Couture, Billabong, Hurley, and Roxy these are the brand names you know and love, but should your children's back-to-school wardrobe consist of these designer labels, or should they buy more practical attire? Or, have a combination of trendy and sensible items? How about letting them decide and budget their purchases accordingly?

One way parents can help their kids understand the concept of money is to allow them a back-to-school clothing allowance, instead of the parents spending indiscriminately or working within a budget in their own minds. Giving your kids a figure to work off of and bounce around in their minds will help them understand what it means to work within a budget, a good lesson to start learning at any age.

Set it up so that your expectations are reasonable and can be achieved.
Some kids can be dropped off at the mall with a few guidelines as to what must be purchased. Most cannot. But, so much more than budgeting is learned from shopping. It's a good chance for parents to get to know what kind of culture their kids are being exposed to and a good time for the kids to learn from you about proper fit and fabrics, and coordination. Consider it some quality time with your kids as well.

Here are five tips to help you and your children implement and maintain a back-to-school budget for their newest, fashionable duds:

1. Allow them to make judgments.

They can ask themselves, "Do I buy all these cool t-shirts with slogans, or do I buy the pants that I really need?" Their answer might force them to be more practical. "Do I want these $70 designer jeans, or do I want the $35 jeans, a $20 dress shirt, and a $15 t-shirt?" They will also have to plan for their clothing needs for the entire school year warm versus cold clothes.

When local mother of five, Amanda Jones, takes her children shopping, she always encourages them to be aware of the prices. "I have them look at the clearance racks first. I even have them scan the items themselves to see how much things cost. Sometimes they tell me, "It's a lot," she says.

Remain patient and supportive - they are absorbing way more than you think!
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2. Be realistic.

You know what your child needs, and you know what you have available to spend. Allowing a child less money than is practical will automatically make your child fail. This of course, could make your child give up on the idea of ever making a budget work. Set it up so that your expectations are reasonable and can be achieved.

3. Be firm.

If they grow up thinking they can always squeeze a little bit more out of you, they will learn to squeeze more out of their own budgets. This habit can cause a credit card problem in their future.

4. Do your best to allow...

your child to show her or his personality while staying within the guidelines of what your family considers appropriate attire. This is about asserting their independence and critical thinking skills, but that doesn't mean you can't influence their decisions or even disallow a purchase if necessary.

"My [older] boys are at the age that they want to wear the name brands," Jones says. "I tell them they can have a few clothes from the clearance racks, and then they can get a name brand. Even with shoes, I buy one pair that is a name brand and one that is not."

4. Kids need clear choices.

They will not automatically "get" it. You can help them learn by reminding them of the overall "project" status. For example, you can ask them: "Okay, you have this much money left, you've bought this and this, and you still need this and this. How should we handle it?"

Budgeting and, more importantly, sticking to said budget isn't always the easiest path to take. In the short term, it's much easier to hand over the credit card and say, "Try not to spend too much." However, parenting is about sharing knowledge and allowing kids to grow up on their own. As much as they may complain that you're "out of touch" or so "un-cool,' remain patient and supportive - they are absorbing way more than you think. Happy shopping!

Caroline and Vaun are two moms still waiting for Jordache jeans to come back in style.
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