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Teens and Consumerism

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.

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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?

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July 1, 20161 found this helpful

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.

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July 1, 20161 found this helpful

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.

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July 3, 20160 found this helpful

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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August 13, 20170 found this helpful

MOM, it is different today than it was when you were a kid. Really. Kids are now bullied for such things and recently our area even had a suicide over something similar. School is only for a short time, but try going back to a reunion and still hearing the same comments. One or two items, if you can afford them could make a lot off difference and boost his self esteem. My girls got new shoes, but many of their jeans and sweaters came from thrift stores or consignment stores. Try combining them.

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August 13, 20170 found this helpful

Kids don't appreciate their individuality until they are older. If you can afford it, dress them as much like their peers as possible. Kids are brutal and will make fun of anyone who looks and dresses differently.

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August 16, 20170 found this helpful

This was my high school experience in the 80s. We had no extra money and survived on thrift stores or hand me downs. I felt ostracized for dressing poor and not having the right hair or makeup. If I had been more outgoing, I probably could have weathered any fashion storm, but I was shy and just wanted to fit in. I started working as McDonald's at 16, in order to be able to buy new clothing. I still didn't really fit in, but I felt a little less awkward. The teen years are often difficult, no matter what the reasons.

Today, I have a friend who dresses her sons in name brand clothing year round, for cheap. She looks for bundles of clothing on Craigslist in specific sizes or brands. She will buy the lot, pick out the ones she likes best, and resells the lot. Sometimes, she can resell individual items for more than the whole bundle's cost.

She also goes to garage sales in better neighborhoods. Often, the prices are lower and they are more willing to barter. She finds name brands items with little to no wear. Sometimes the tags are still on the clothes. In this case, she will try to return it directly to the store.

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Good luck, these teen years are hard in an entirely different way than any other stage of parenting. My youngest is almost 15, and has just recently stopped flying into a rage at any adversity. And my 17 year old is usually delightful to be around, when you can tear him away from his active social life. Before you know it, he will be an adult. I'm sure the frugal lessons of his childhood will reassert themselves as he grows into acceptance of his own individuality.

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