The Back-To-School Budget Experiment

This year our family approached back-to-school shopping in a way we never have before and it worked out really well.  My girls got clothes they really liked and my wife and I didn’t spend more than we wanted.

Here’s what we did.  We gave each daughter $200 to spend on clothes, shoes, backpacks, and lunch bags.  We’re fans of the Dave Ramsey “envelope system” so we got cash and handed it over to them in their own envelopes.

School supplies like pencils, folders, etc. didn’t have to come out of “their” money.   My wife has been great at stockpiling those types of things when they’re on-sale.  Anything we didn’t already have at home in the way of supplies my wife and I took care of.

Some might think that turning over $200 cash to an 11 and 13 year old might be a little risky but it was a really good learning experience for them… and made it less stressful for me!

My daughters approached back-to-school shopping in a whole new way.

Instead of asking my wife or I, “Can I get this?” They were asking themselves if they should get it.  They needed to work out for themselves if the item was worth it or if it would prevent them from getting something else they would rather have.

Right away my oldest daughter decided her backpack from last year would be good enough to last another year.  She’d rather spend the money on clothes.

My youngest, even though she really liked a few expensive Nike shirts, realized she could get more for her money by going with non-name brand shirts.

The benefit for my wife and I was that we knew going into back-to-school shopping how much we’d spend.  Once the girls’ envelopes were empty we were done.  This eliminated the risk of overspending.

It also made my daughters feel like they were treated equally.  In the end I was impressed with everything they each got

This back-to-school budget experiment worked out so well we’ll replicate it again next year.

What are your thoughts?  Have you ever done something like this with your kids?

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