Teaching your teens to shop responsibly

Teens love to shop — whether it’s for the latest fashions or the newest video games. Whether they are spending their own cash, your money or a combination of the two, it’s important to teach your teens to shop responsibly.

Teen girls shopping together

Reinforce the difference between wants and needs

From a young age, you should be teaching your children the difference between wants and needs. When they are teens, this needs to be reinforced regularly. New clothes for school are definitely a necessity, but having the most expensive sneakers or a closet full of designer fashions is not. Teach your teens about splurging on classic pieces of clothing or other items that they can use for years to come, and not overspending on trendy or fad purchases.

Encourage them to shop used

Shopping for used items shouldn’t be a negative experience. Encourage your kids to shop for gently used items, including clothes, furniture and other goods. It’s an eco-friendly practice, and certainly cheaper than buying everything new. Thrift shops, consignment stores, estate sales, Craigslist and eBay are good places to start.

Read more about shopping for used items >>

Help them create a budget

If your teenagers have money of their own — whether from a part-time job or an allowance — help them create a monthly budget, particularly if they want to save up for a big-ticket item. You can use a good old-fashioned paper ledger or a free budgeting software program like Mint.

Check out these budgeting tools >>

Be a good role model

Your teen is not going to shop responsibly if he/she sees you running up your credit cards on unnecessary purchases. Though teens love their peers, they most often look to their parents first when comes to money issues. If you are in debt or spend unwisely, now is a good time to change your money habits and get your finances back on track.

Read about teaching your teens good money habits >>

Discourage impulse buying

Encourage your teens to avoid purchasing items on impulse. All shoppers should do research before they buy, especially when something is pricey. You can read customer reviews and professional opinions online about all types of items from clothing to computers. Check out the reviews on websites like Amazon, CNET and Consumer Reports. When comparing prices, check both brick-and-mortar stores and online retailers. Also keep shipping prices in mind when determining the bottom line.

Step in when necessary

If your teen is consistently overspending or buying items that are inappropriate, shoddy or overpriced, step in and do something about it. Just because you have an older child doesn’t mean you no longer have the final say. Though you want to give your teens some leeway in their decisions, you can always set limits or guide them to more appropriate buying decisions.

More about shopping & kids

Teaching kids to be savvy shoppers
5 Online shopping tips for kids’ clothing
Teaching kids about grocery shopping


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