As the parent of a 12 year old tween (going on 21), I LOVE back to school. Don’t get me wrong, I love the summer time spent with my lovely daughter, but at some point it gets old driving her to and from her many social engagements and entertaining her endlessly while also trying to get some work done.

So when I start to hear the “back to school” commercials, I get excited at the prospect of getting back to routine, and quite honestly, some alone time to get stuff done.

The Flip Side

My wallet, however, knows better.

Back to school brings with it back to school shopping, kids activity registration costs, and a litany of other financial costs along the way.

These expenses used to throw me off my money game. I never saw them coming (funny, they happen every year, but I never paid attention to them), and when these costs did arise, they always looked bigger than I had expected.

It all goes south

As my daughter has gotten older, her taste in clothing, shoes, and all things skincare has changed. (Skincare? Since when is this a priority for 12 year olds? Thanks Tik Tok!)

And I noticed that we started to fight WAY more about the things she wanted to purchase. I started to hate back to school shopping, or really, any shopping with her. Painful doesn’t begin to describe it.

It became a game of her asking, and me denying, the expensive items on her shopping list.

A mindset shift

That is until last year. I had a mindset shift about back to school shopping. In the Money Fix Pro program that I use with my clients (and follow myself), a key component is a weekly “spendable” amount, that you can spend on anything without guilt. It allows flexibility, choice, and freedom, all without breaking the bank.

I decided to apply this concept to back to school shopping with my daughter.

We discussed and agreed to a dollar amount for her shopping. $300.

The Rules

Much like our spendable number in the Money Fix Pro, I only put ONE rule into place for my daughter’s back to school cash. Once the money is gone, it’s gone.

I wasn’t sure how this would play out, quite honestly, but it was magic.

I went to the bank machine, withdrew $300 in CASH (yep, she got to hold the actual cash in her hands) and off we went to the mall with my sister and niece.

I was prepared for things to be less than perfect. I was prepared for her to ask for more money from me, but that did not happen.

The Magic

So what happened?

She took full responsibility for her cash, and started to make conscious decisions. She checked prices, and would ask me if I thought that an item was worth the price.

My answer. It doesn’t matter what I think, do you think it is worth the price?

She felt empowered, and happy, and like she had the ability to make the choices without permission (which she did).

The Best Part

She decided to buy a pair of jeans from Garage for $85. (BTW, she doesn’t even like jeans, but her cousin was getting a similar pair, cue social influence)

As we were walking away from Garage, jeans in hand, she paused and asked me, “Do you think we could return these? I don’t think these are worth that much to me. I can get cheaper jeans at H&M”.

It was the magical moment that flipped the spending switch from unconscious to conscious.

The Lesson

I learned a lot from this experience.

I learned that handing over cash when buying is just as hard for kids as it is for adults. It reduces unconscious spending and is a key component of the Money Fix transformation stage.

I learned I will treat back to school like this every year. Inflation might change the dollar amount, but I will allow her to be in charge. I am teaching her how to value her money, she loves it and so do I.

I learned that many of the Money Fix strategies are perfect for not only us, but our kids as well. Conscious spending is just as important for them as it is for us.

Want more?

There are other strategies that you can employ for back to school and kid’s activity costs (but this is a blog, not an e-book, lol) so April and I have decided to run a masterclass on August 8th at 10am ET in our FREE “Reboot Your Money” Facebook group. Click here to join, and there will be a replay if you can’t make it live!

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