The Advantages Of Having Teens Do Their Own Clothes Shopping

by Travis Pizel · 4 comments

My daughter will drift through each store looking at the racks of clothes seemingly uninterested for a few minutes before declaring she couldn’t find anything she liked. My son will try on jeans and approve them, only to have them sit unused in his dresser. He would admit later he didn’t like them, and had only only picked them out so we could be done with shopping as soon as possible.

Shopping the traditional way with my kids is a waste of time, effort and money. This year we’re trying something different. Instead of packing them into the car and driving them to the mall, we give them cash. With that cash they have to do their own clothes shopping. It sounds like an extraordinary amount of freedom for teenagers, but we set up a few rules too.

Finite Funds

We have a budgeted amount of money for clothes for fall, winter, and spring clothes. When it’s time to buy new clothes for the season, we give them the budgeted amount of money. They’re welcome to spend more than the amount we’ve given them, but it will have to come out of their own pocket.

Make a List

First, we assess their current clothing situation, and decide what items are in need of replacement. We give them a guideline as to what they must get. For example, if they’ve outgrown their shoes, that purchase is a must.


We give them a date by which their shopping task must be completed. This gives them the flexibility to shop when it’s convenient for them, but also ensures that it gets done in a timely manner.

Right To Return

As parents we reserve the right to return anything that we find offensive or inappropriate.

We gave each of our children $200 for the recent back to school fall clothes shopping. Let’s take a look at how they chose to spend their money.


  • Shoes: $50
  • Boxers: $14
  • Socks: $5
  • Shirts : $130

Total: $199


  • Shoes: $50
  • Socks: $8
  • Shorts: $30
  • Shirts: $60
  • Leggings: $30
  • Pajamas: $25
  • Body Spray and Lotions: $20

Total $223

Several positives resulted from our new shopping methodology for the entire family:

Making Trade Offs

My kids had to pay attention to how much they were spending on each item in order to get everything they needed. They also decided which items they wanted to spend the bulk of their money on. For example, My son discovered that the jeans he already had still fit him so he could spend the bulk of his money on new shirts. My daughter’s total exceeded the cash we gave her, but she made the decision to use some of her own money to get some new lotions and body sprays.

Learning Where To Shop

My son made the decision that shirts were the thing he wanted to spend the bulk of his money on. However, he did realize that he needed socks and boxers too, so he asked for my opinion on where to get these items as inexpensively as possible. I took him to Walmart and knocked those things off his list without taking a big dent out of his funds.

More Enjoyable For Everyone

For my daughter, shopping with her friends was a fun afternoon at the mall. For my son, it was a way to get what he wanted, with the least amount of effort possible. He spent 30 minutes searching for and ordering the shirts he wanted online, and we went out together for his shoes, boxers and socks. This was great for my wife and I, since it saved us from taking to resistant teenagers to the mall for an afternoon.

Shopping with my kids had become an unproductive chore. By allowing them to do their own shopping within the confines of some rules and guidance, I lose a source of frustration and my kids earn some valuable shopping and money management skills that will benefit them for the rest of their life.

Do you let your teenager do their own shopping? Would you ever consider it?

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  • Michal @ says:

    Empowering children – that’s what I like! What you did should be common situation among parents. They have to learn how to mange money. What I always repeat, if you cannot mange little money, how do you want to manage higher amounts?

    • Travis Pizel says:

      Great perspective, Michal….thanks for sharing! Better to start them out now, when we can help guide them if they make mistakes. They’ll be much better prepared for the “real world” once they get there!

  • Money Beagle says:

    Great stuff, and definitely nice that you kept ‘veto’ power. Curious as to how many of each item that they were able to obtain.

    • Travis Pizel says:

      For my son, it was 1 pair of shoes, a pack of 6 boxers, a pack of 6 pairs of socks and 5 shirts.

      For my daughter it was 1 pair of shoes, a package of 8 pairs of socks, 2 pairs of shorts, 4 shirts, 3 pairs of leggings, 1 pajama set, and I honestly don’t know what lotions and body sprays she got.

      We definitely have to keep veto power…….video game tshirts can be questionable, and the school has some policies regarding the length of shorts and spaghetti straps on shirts.

      Thanks for reading!

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