I might as well admit that when it comes to fashion, I am a recovering shop-a-holic. I’ve never sipped fine wines, and a home-cooked lasagna is as good to me as a night out at a restaurant (especially when my husband is cooking). I’m mindful of how I spend, so I always justified my spending on clothes as my one splurge. There are two problems with that justification: 1. Consistent splurging defeats the purpose of a splurge, and 2. I have a husband and children that are my responsibility and these splurges were coming out of the family purse. While my clothing habit wasn’t breaking the bank, it was one of many areas I could learn to cut back and identifying small areas helps to gain control. Budgeting became a form of gamification - it was just another competition to win.
One of my proudest budget moments: We were in a store and my daughter asked if she could show me something… you probably know that request well. Usually, “can I show you something?” means, “can I show you something I really, really, really want and will you buy it for me?” Well, my daughter took me over and said, “I know I don’t need this, but I really want it.” In this moment my daughter demonstrated something it took me four decades to practice regularly.
Whether you need a little push or are already budgeting and just need some fresh ideas, here are some tips that helped me:
Set a budget for items your children frequently ask for and include them in the decision-making of how to spend it (a good opportunity is a clothing budget since kids often want to weigh in on how they dress).
Enforce a one-night-sleep-on-it rule to curb impulse purchases. Make sure you sleep on the decision to buy anything that you are considering purchasing but didn’t go to buy that day. Once you go home and really weigh out the need vs want you will have a better perspective. It also models good money sense for your child.
Purchase with thought and share the process with your children so they understand the rhyme to your reason and so you are accountable to a true reason.
It’s ok to splurge every now and then so long as you practice gratitude for what you have.
I found that even with our new budget I was still feeling the urge to shop to settle my nerves. So how do I stick to our budget? I remember I am accountable to the family budget. This is a reminder to me that when I spend on clothing that money cannot be spent on something for my children or my husband. Though I still feel occasional pangs when I see an amazing new pair of shoes, it actually feels good to put a cap on spending. And the concreteness of the spreadsheet and the accountability to my husband when we would talk through purchases would help me think about what I want to buy, decide how I can divide the money to clothe us all, and remember to appreciate what I have. This lesson has been hard to learn for me, but I am glad to see my children developing into smart consumers as a result of my process. I still love clothes and shopping, but purchasing within reason has given me perspective and taught my children well.