Starting Your Child on a Clothing Allowance

The clothing allowance gives a child the chance to learn how to make a budget and stick to it.

Image Licensed by Ingram Publishing

Image Licensed by Ingram Publishing


Allowances 2.0: The Clothing Allowance!

It all started with a hole in some sweatpants! Recently,my 9 year old daughter came home from school with a hole the size of a fist in the leg of her sweatpants. They are very nice sweatpants (I would wear them if they were my size!). So, when I asked her what happened, she said, “I got bored today at school, so I cut them.” Excuse me?! She got bored at school – so she cut a large hole in her pants! Seriously!

There definitely needed to be a consequence for this, but what? Then, I remembered a genius idea from my childhood, especially my tween/ teen years. The clothing allowance! My parents gave my siblings and I each a budget for the school year for our clothes and let us figure out how to spend that money. It worked so well for many reasons, but what it really taught me was the value of a dollar. I really learned to care for my belongings and understand that the sky is not the limit when it came to my parents paying for certain items.

So, obviously my daughter does not know the value of a dollar and I hadn’t yet started the clothing allowance but will after this. In this instance, I ended up telling her that those sweatpants cost $20 and she needed to do $20 worth of chores for me to understand what those sweatpants were worth. It took her a few weeks and a lot of complaining, but she completed $20 of jobs for me (raking leaves, cutting brussel sprouts for Thanksgiving dinner, cleaning windows). Hopefully, she will remember this lesson and that nice sweatpants don’t grow on trees!

The idea of a clothing allowance is perfect because it offers the chance for a child to learn how to make a budget and then actually try to stick to that budget. It also allows your child to decide what is important to them (like blowing the majority of the allowance for a really nice pair of jeans and designer hoodie instead of a few cheaper versions), and to live with their decisions.

A clothing allowance could be used many different ways: an after school activity or sports budget; a summer camp budget; or school supplies. It is a true gift to your children to take the time to let them try to manage the money that you might normally spend on them- they will learn invaluable skills!



Author: Christena Saunders

Christena Saunders is a mother of two who has worked in financial services for 12 years.

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