Up until this point, my ultra-frugal shopping ways have gone unopposed by my son. Now that he is almost 13, he is succumbing to peer pressure and hearing comments that he wears "poor people shoes", etc. We can afford the brands of clothing he's wanting, but it goes against my core belief of saving money and not caving in to society's materialistic, commercial, look-at-me bent.
I want my son to feel accepted, because I remember what it felt like as a kid to wear second-hand, no-name brands (which is all my single mom could afford). Where is the balance? I want to teach him what's important, but also don't want him to feel odd (which he struggles with as it is). Any great great tips/advice on how to approach this?
Growing up we were pretty poor too, and my folks - like you - insisted on saving wherever possible. Like your son, us kids didn't understand and wanted 'stuff.' My parents' solution? "You earn half the money (to buy a bike, for instance) and we'll match it."
The lessons? If you want to buy something, get a job. If you want it badly enough to work hard and save and not change your mind halfway through, you must want it pretty badly.
I'm sure you an see all the other valuable lessons (like not paying credit card interest, testing to see if the "want" endures as long as it takes, how fleeting fashion can be ... ). I guess it all depends what you think your son needs to know to be happy in life.
High school lasts a few minutes compared to the rest of our lives.
A similar question came up on an old defunct frugality board I belonged too. These beautiful ladies were ultra frugal. I remember their answer so well to the question was buy the shoes. My first answer to that question when it was posed was buy the shoes. Children and teenagers are being bullied in worse ways than we were in previous generations. Your son's self-esteem is the most important. You don't have to compromise price for the shoes. Look for good deals online. You might find such a great deal you can buy him two pairs of shoes. Take that bullies! :) Use store coupons for the shoes. Seeing your son's head held high and his confidence soar. When I was a little girl my parents lived on my Dad's VA Pension. I was always dressed in beautiful clothes, carried gorgeous school supplies all on a frugal budget. Kids thought I was a rich. My parents taught me how to shop as a teenager for beautiful trendy items on a frugal budget. I am so grateful they taught me this. That might be a good way to teach your son. Tell him he can have the shoes and then help him find the best price on them frugally. It will give him a huge sense of accomplishment and teach him money management as the same time.
Another way to approach this is to allow your son to start paying for his own clothing and other things that he wants with an allowance. Then he can decide if he wants to spend the money on the fancy shoes, and have little left for something else, or if he wants to spread it around and spend it on several items. Another thing to consider is if the shoes are, perhaps, superior shoes that will give long service. However, at 13 his feet may be growing so quickly that long service is not going to do you much good. If you spend $200 on shoes, and wear them 4 months, and they are too small, that's not a good use of your funds. If you spend $200 on shoes, and wear them for 2 years, where cheap shoes would need to be replaced ever 4 months, that's a good use of your funds. These are all things for you to discuss with your son, and help him consider. And sometimes you just need to let him make some of those choices on his own.
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