How Do I Talk to My Daughter About Spending?

By Dannah Gresh, Creator of Secret Keeper Girl

It doesn’t matter how much your daughter has watched you print coupons or chase down bargains, somewhere around the age of twelve she will “just die” if she can’t spend something-like-half-the-amount-of-the-national-debt on a pair of jeans. What’s a mom to do?

I didn’t know. My normally content little girls had become two fashion-greedy tweens who would have liked to shop until I dropped of severe credit card exposure. Since we don’t like credit at our house and don’t use it much, something had to be done. I asked a friend who was parenting a few years ahead of me and found the most amazing solution. It was so simple that in my many efforts to solve the problem I hadn’t thought of it, but it literally cut my clothing budget in half and my girls got just as much…or more…each season.

  1. First, add up what you can budget for this season’s shopping, put it in an envelope and present it to your daughter.  (She will smile and be giddy at the thought of how far it will go. Don’t tell her just yet that it never goes as far as you think it will.)
  2. Second, help her establish a list of priorities. For example, if it’s time for back-to-school shopping she might want a new pair of jeans, three great t-shirts, a new pair of shoes, and a sweater. This step is really critical or she will be distracted by the bling on a party dress that she won’t need…ever! Instruct her that she needs to find the priorities and purchase them first and if there’s money left she can get that cute dress.
  3. Finally, head to the mall and hold your tongue while she learns the lessons of money management on the hot pavement of life! Expect it to be a little hard at first, but I can testify that the three Gresh girls cried a whole lot less after we started shopping this way. My daughters loved the sense of empowerment and almost instantly became bargain shoppers. They passed up Hollister for Charlotte Russe. They quickly found the sale rack in every store. It was their idea to take last season’s clothes to a local second hand store to increase their spending power.

Perhaps most importantly, my girls learned valuable lessons in budgeting and saving and our relationship was no longer strained by me saying “no” to things our family could not afford. Let me say that another way: this was one of the BEST things I did for our relationships during my daughters’ tween years.

Recently, I tried to buy one of them an expensive jacket as a going-off-to-college gift. She gasped when she looked at the price tag, “Mom! I could get four jackets for that!”

Lesson learned!

Dannah Gresh’s Secret Keeper Girl Tour is a faith-based mother-daughter connecting experience. This 2 1/2 hour event features two fun fashion shows that demonstrate modesty and true beauty, deep Bible teaching, live worship, and stories that help girls aged 7-12 embrace true beauty and modesty. Incredible balloon sculptures, bouncing beach ball competitions, mother/daughter conversation time & colorful confetti cannons make the night unforgettable. Click the video below for a sneak peak.


Dannah Gresh

Dannah Gresh is the best-selling author, speaker , and creator of Secret Keeper Girl, America’s most popular tween stage show for moms and daughters. Dannah has authored 27 books, including And the Bride Wore White, and Lies Young Women Believe (with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth) and is considered one of the leading experts on the subjects of sexual purity, modesty, and true beauty. More than 350,000 people have attended her live events. She has been a guest on CNN, Fox News, and the 700 Club and is a frequent guest on Focus on the Family and Family Life. Her TEDTalk on tolerance for virginity offers thought-provoking look at why sexuality is enhanced by self-control. She lives in State College, Pennsylvania with her husband, Bob on a hobby farm with a menagerie of animals. The couple has four young adult children.

Linda - December 10, 2014

I recently came across a great website tool for helping my girls with learning financial responsibility. It is called FamZoo (www.famzoo.com). I like it because it is a virtual family bank that my kids can access from their own personal electronic devices. (It had a low subscription fee). We have set it up to encourage saving and budgeting for things like clothing and even school lunch money. The most attractive part to my girls is that they can get their own prepaid debit cards.

We have been giving our girls a portion of their clothing budget for them to spend for several years now with the condition that it must be spent on something that we would have normally bought for them anyway (e.g., swimsuit or shorts in summer, coat in winter, etc.). It amazingly liberating as parents to actually give our girls control of their finances (within age appropriate limits) so they can learn early the value of money and how to make decisions between cost vs. style. We also found they took better care of the clothes they bought. One of our most rewarding moments was when we decided to buy a special pair of boots for each of our girls from “our” money instead of their clothes money. Not only did they pick their boots in a money conscious manner, but they profusely thanked us for the purchase as they clutched their boot boxes all the way out of the store! We got amazed looks from other parents in the store, because it was just boots — but our girls had learned the value of money.

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