I find that it is a critical priority to teach our children how to make better financial choices than Don and I have made over the years. We pay them an allowance that doesn't go as far as they would like for it to--- which is a healthy dose of reality. The necessities are provided for these children, and many extras are covered as well. I do find that I have a different idea of what things should cost than the children. (My brain comes to a halt like the Price Is Right wheel slowly winding down to a final number.) For example: Erin thinks a forty dollar backpack is entirely reasonable for a seven year old. On hearing this news, I wondered if Erin needed to hear the "Just Say NO to Drugs!" talk again.
We cover this gap between reality and fanstasy by giving the kids said allowance and by setting spending caps on everything from their entertainment to clothing. A prime example is the kid who really wanted a $7 toothbrush, but I was only willing to spring for the least expensive battery-operated model. I found it interesting how quickly the want for the $7 model capitulated to a willingness to accept the $5 version when I offered to accept payment for the difference. This year, I gave them a preset spending amount for their back-to-school shopping after doing a mental tally of what their wants could cost. I figured they could sort out what was a priority and be doubly satisfied with what I intended to spend because they were given the freedom to determine the priorities knowing that Mom held a veto right.
Back to Libby's over-priced backpack. (It had glitter, a brand-name, monkey zipper-pulls, and a slight discount.) $35 seemed a bit much to me, but the lure of glitter is strong. I watched her fork over more than half of her total back-to-school dollars on the uber-girlie backpack and a lunchbox that was three times my top price. The fraction of her funds remaining purchased a pair of capris, two t-shirts, and a pair of slip-on sneakers at bargain prices. I was impressed to see that she actually purchased everything on her list without going over budget. She is happy with her purchases, and she compromised on items that will be mixed in with her assorted hand-me-downs already in the closet while splurging outrageously on the two items that she will use every single day. I think she may actually be teaching me a thing or two.