Do any of these phrases sound familiar?
- “Mom, you never get me anything nice!”
- “No way am I buying that! It’s too expensive! “
- “Mom, I just HAVE to have those shoes!”
- “No, I do NOT want to try anything on!”
- “Why are you always so cheap?”
- “You don’t need this, you probably have one in your closet already!”
- “How come my friends all have these and I don’t?”
- “Can’t you just shop without me?”
- “Can’t I just shop without you?”
Shopping with teens can be stressful. I know, I have 4 teenagers! However, it can also be very fun. With just a few simple changes you can turn your frustration into a fiesta in no time!
- Set a Budget
For a while when my girls and I would go out shopping, what was supposed to be a fun, girls’ day out would turn into a battle over money. They were stressed because it seemed like I wouldn’t buy them anything, and I was stressed at the prices and all the things they HAD to have. A couple years ago I decided to give them a budget for the whole season (i.e. a certain amount for winter clothes, then when spring came around, another amount for summer clothes).
This worked wonders. Now all of a sudden they were being price conscience, and deciding on what they really wanted to keep and what they didn’t really need without me saying anything. Plus I wasn’t stressed because I knew exactly how much I would be spending. It really deflated the tension and put me in the role of advisor, “Mom, do you think I’d wear this a lot or should I get the blue one?” instead of adversary, “Mom, you’re so cheap, why can’t we get both?” or from me, “We can’t get that, it’s too expensive!!”
I would keep a record on my phone of what was spent so I would always have it and so I could text it to the girls if they were out with their friends shopping. This way they had a list of what they bought and knew how much they had left to spend. Anything over the budgeted amount they could buy with their own money. It worked great and everyone was much happier.
2. Bring a Friend
One time when we were going shopping, one of the girls asked if they could bring a friend. I couldn’t believe how much more peaceful and fun the whole experience was! Instead of fighting with each other, we were all cutting up and laughing, making fun of silly outfits, exclaiming at exorbitant prices, and complimenting cute finds. Bringing a friend definitely changed the whole climate of the day. Now we do it regularly and sometimes bring more than one!
3. Second-Hand First
On our last shopping, trip I mapped out the route like this…
- First, Plato’s Closet (second-hand boutique shop that buys used name brand clothes and resales them)
- Second, Savers (tried and true thrift store)
- Third, Ross (discount store that buys name brand clothes from other retailers and sells them for half price)
- Fourth, Target, Kohl’s, JC Penney (big box retailers who often have good sales or reasonable prices)
- Fifth, American Eagle, Gap, Charlotte Ruse (Name brand boutique stores)
Honestly, we never even made it to American Eagle, Gap, and Charlotte Ruse. For one, we were too tired to keep going by then, and more importantly, we had already found a lot of items by shopping the second-hand/outlet market first. And what we didn’t find there we ended up finding at Target. We still have a few more things to get so, another shopping trip is in our future! But overall, we saved a lot of money and stress by finding some sweet buys cheap, which also gave us more room in the budget to buy some more “fun” items later.
4. Explain Needs Versus Wants
My friend Dana is a missionary in Central America, and she says this is the main thing she explains to her kids before they shop. You could imagine that as a missionary, needs versus wants would be a lesson they have to think through often. But even in America, the rule still applies. It’s amazing how many items get shed from the list when you ask your teenager to pare it down to what they really need. And the nice thing about it is that, when they realize they don’t need everything (and they’re not going to get everything!), they are much more grateful for what they have, and even more appreciative when they get something they WANT!
5. Don’t Go
Let your teen go with a friend. A lot of times I’ll just give them some cash and drop them off (or they’ll drive, depending on the age) or go with another friend’s mom and shop without me. As long as we establish ahead of time more or less what they’re looking for and/or a budget, this works great, saves me a lot of time, and is more fun for them. If it’s a daughter, sometimes they will text me a picture of them in the outfit to see if I like it or make sure it’s modest enough. Otherwise they are on their own, which is a great way to learn how to make their own decisions and have some freedom/responsibility.
6. Go Without Them
My friend Shalena has 6 kids and lots of experience with outfitting them. She says her teens don’t really enjoy shopping, so she often goes to the store without them. She knows what they like and can often find winning items that they would otherwise never have tried on.
I know from my own experience my teen boys don’t enjoy shopping, or trying on clothes, so I try to shop for them as much as possible. If we have already tried something, like a type of shirt or a particular brand/size of jeans that I know they like, I’ll just do the shopping for them. Sometimes if I’m not sure I’ll text them a picture and see what they think. It’s fun for me and they’re happy too.
7. Shop Online
Shopping online gives you a lot more selection and sometimes great deals, especially if you get periodic emails from your favorite retailers with online specials. There are more size choices (such as tall or husky) and usually more color choices as well. Plus you have access to EVERYTHING available, not just what’s at the store. Of course, you can’t try on the clothes, but if you already know the size you need, or it’s something that’s usually sized pretty standard, you can shop snuggled up from the comfort of your own bed! Also, retailers like Amazon make it easy to return items (they even have a program where you can try before you buy!) and some like L.L. Bean have a 100% return policy with a FULL YEAR to return it. When in doubt, I like to buy from retailers that have a store near me, like JC Penney or Old Navy so that if it doesn’t work out, I can return it easily.
All in all there are lots of ways to make your shopping more merrier! Just changing a few habits can give you peace of mind and make your teen happy in the process.