Financial Life Lessons at an Early Age

This weekend my daughter was dying to spend up the gift card she received for her 10th birthday, and as Sunday promised torrential downpours, I figured it was as good a day as any to hit Claire’s at the mall.

If you’ve never been in Claire’s or don’t quite remember it from 8th grade, the accessory store is pretty much a wide hallway just packed with tons of sparkling necklaces, rows of 80’s style Madonna gloves, miles and miles of sequins and rhinestones, the most neon earrings in one square foot, and the gaudiest hair accoutrements. And the tween girl simply must have it.

My daughter certainly wanted it, as much as her little arms could carry, anyway.

So I let her pick out what she wanted, and while standing on line I explained to her that she may need to make some decisions about which items to keep as I doubted her gift card would cover everything. Sasha, though, seemed to think her Claire’s gift card might be enough to purchase the $50 in merchandise she was holding.

When we reached the register and found out the gift card was for $10, Sasha had some serious thinking to do. I had already agreed to allow Sasha bring some of her own money to subsidize the gift card amount, but when I suggested she could use it for the beloved items she was holding, she balked. Suddenly the $15 dollar scarf was no longer necessary. The nylon peace-sign bracelet – history. She managed with the special buy two get one free offer on earrings to get three food-themed pairs for the amount of the gift card. Now that’s a smart shopper.

Then it was off to my daughter’s favorite store, Justice. A store lauded by young girls and loathed by their mothers. A store filled with bold mutli-colored prints, an abundance of neon, scratch and sniff shirts and no item left unadorned in spangles. My friend describes it as “the store that gives you a headache.”

Usually, entering the store causes me a panic attack, but this time Sasha was armed with her own fortune. I didn’t have to worry about being forced into spending all my money on a ridiculously expensive yet monstrously hideous garment. If she wanted it she could have it, but she would have to pay for it with her own money. I instructed her to look at the price tag and consider whether it was something special she couldn’t find anywhere else.

Having just been to Old Navy where the t-shirts were a fraction of the price, Sasha found she didn’t really need anything from Justice. As much as she loves Justice, she hates to part with her money even more. She decided to go back to Old Navy where the sale was on, and we had a coupon.

(Photo/Flickr: faster panda kill kill)

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