3+ME: Kids outgrow clothes, but hopefully not money lessons

“Didn’t we JUST buy that bathing suit? What do you mean, it doesn’t fit?”

—  Me, to my 8-year-old stepdaughter

Kids outgrow clothes too fast.

That’s just one of the reasons why I like to shop at Savers.

If you’ve never been, Savers is a wonderful place of low prices, amazing clothing, sunshine, butterflies —

So maybe I’m glorifying it a little too much. It’s a thrift store.

You get so much more bang for your buck there. And when, say, your stepkids outgrow their clothing three weeks after you bought it, it feels like less of a waste.

So yep, that’s where we bring them when they need a wardrobe upgrade. (Full disclosure: It’s where I go for myself, too; if I can get a super cute swimsuit or practically new Vans sneakers for $8 — true story — you better believe I won’t go anywhere else.)

Call me cheap, but I’m happy with this life choice.

I know how much I worked to earn my money, and I don’t want to spend it on something I don’t think is worth it.

My stepkids don’t necessarily have that skill yet, of understanding the value of money. Because they’re 8 and 12, and their adults buy things for them. They want stuff, and We The Adults choose to, or not to, pay for it.

That’s why whenever we’d gone on a trip with them in the past three years, my husband and I have given them a budget. (It also took the pressure of on-the-spot decision-making off ourselves.)

At the beginning of the trip, we told them they each had x-number of dollars to spend however they wanted — and when said dollars were gone, that was it for the rest of the trip.

It was to encourage them to think more carefully about how they spent money. And I was surprised how well it worked.

It really made them think twice before they bought anything, and often, they either put the item back, or found a smaller, more affordable version.

But no travel budget was as effective at teaching the value of a dollar as what I saw happen to my stepdaughter this summer.

She and her brother ran a lemonade stand at their grandma’s tag sale a few weeks ago. And as far as lemonade stands go, they made a good chunk of change.

But it took work. A lot of planning went into it beforehand, and a lot of effort went into it the day of. They ran the stand in the hot sun for hours.

They earned their money that day.

And a few days later, when my stepdaughter asked to go to the store to spend it, apparently she remembered how hard she’d worked to earn it.

She asked to go to Claire’s. And as she browsed the store, she checked the prices.

The prices did not fit her idea of what the things were worth.

“This is $10?!” she asked incredulously. “This is $6?!”

“Yes, hon, that’s how expensive things are.”

She found a clearance ring for $2, but she couldn’t bring herself to spend even that, and put it back on the shelf.

“Maybe we can try another store,” she suggested, so we did.

She looked around there, too, and finally decided to go back to Claire’s, where after much deliberation, she finally settled on two surprise toys, totaling $10.

She knew how much she worked to earn her money, and she didn’t want to spend it on something she didn’t think was worth it.

I’ve never seen her put that much thought and consideration into buying something. We didn’t rush her, because we wanted her to spend her money thoughtfully.

Which she did.

Now if only she could stop outgrowing clothes so darn fast…

Originally published in The Herald News on July 21, 2019.

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