Monday, March 31, 2014

don't look a clothes horse in the mouth

The sun is shining, birds are chirping and it's not dark at 5:00. SPRING IS HERE! And it's everything I thought it could be. Seriously, the winter of 2014 is not something I wish to relive anytime in the near future. Between the ice storms, 3' pilings of snow and Witches Tit temperatures, this family is ready for a little sun and fun.

Notice I said we're ready...I wish I could say the same for the kids' wardrobes.

Can we just talk about how friggin' fast tweens grow? 10 months ago my stepdaughters' clothes were loose and had that "She'll Grow" look going. Now, their shorts look like underpants and dresses have magically transformed into belly shirts. This isn't going to fly.

My knee-jerk reaction to the kids' request for new clothes was to slit my wrists. Obviously I realize that's a completely inappropriate response, but can you blame me? Everything we buy for the kids ends up never being worn or over at their mother's house and then gets lost. I don't have a money tree in the back yard, and clothes aren't free. In addition, I feel like we're just constantly buying more and more and more clothes for the kids. They need socks, no wait, now they need sandals. They want jeans shorts, oh wait, no, capris are actually what are cool now. Something must be done.

Thankfully, Hubs and I are crafty, and we've hatched the  

2014 Spring/Summer New Clothing Plan:

1) Each child gets two new pairs of shoes for the spring/summer season (of course they can still wear the current shoes they have). One of the pairs of shoes must be sandals or shoes that are wearable to the pool. A reasonable dollar limit is set for both pairs of shoes.

2) Each child gets a $200.00 base to spend however they choose on clothing. If they want to blow all $200.00 on two pairs of True Religion jeans, more power to them. But they must live with the consequences when they have no shorts or tank tops in 100+ temperatures.

3) If they find and bring me a discount, that discount amount is added to their base. 

Example: Child finds a $15.00 coupon for JCPenney in the paper. We use the coupon, but instead of me reaping the savings, I add $15.00 to her base. (Meaning she now has $215.00!!! Yaaay!) 

The idea behind this is, find yourself some more money, honey. Learn to be creative and stretch your money farther. If you learn to be frugal now, it will translate into being frugal later.

4) If Ruby finds the discount, it can still be used, but no more money is added to the base. (I mean c'mon, I want to save moola where I can.)

5) Each child is responsible for keeping track of what they've spent. If they go over on their spending, they receive a $5.00 penalty against their base. This is similar to an overdraft fee at a bank. (Obviously this requires me to keep track of what they've spent too, but they don't have to know that.)

5a) Bonus money can be earned by doing chores, helping the lady across the street mow her lawn, baby sitting, etc. In other words, there is always more money to be made if you want it bad enough.

6)  Hubs and I will offer 33 years worth of free advice on what we would suggest the kids look for to prepare for the months ahead. They can take our advice or not, but ultimately it is their decision on what they purchase.

7) Each child must walk to the cash register and pay for their items at checkout with their money. You wouldn't believe how much this terrifies teens. It's like they think the cashier is going to spray them with mace. Human interaction is a necessity; get over it.

8) If a child takes an article of clothing to Mama Ex's house/friend's house/grandma's house and loses it, that is the child's problem. I don't make the kids keep everything at our house; that's unrealistic. I understand that a favorite t-shirt is a favorite t-shirt. They want to wear it all the time. But that doesn't mean Ruby and Hubs are responsible for that favorite t-shirt. If they can keep track of school books and homework and lunch boxes and cell phones, they can certainly keep track of their clothing. It's all about priorities.

(This rule is age appropriate for my SK's. It's probably not a good idea for a four year old.)

9) When the money is gone, the money is gone. I'm not entertaining the Target shenanigans that go something like, "it's only $7.00 for this shirt. PLEEEEEASE!??" The kids have their money and they should spend it wisely.

10) I love my bonus babes, but they need to look like children and not streetwalkers. Thus, their money will not pay for high heels, half-shirts or jean shorts that look like they've been through a weed-wacker. I'm their stepmother, not their best friend.

This is the first year Hubs and I have initiated this approach to clothing, so it's a work in progress. Rules may change eventually, but the end game is this: the kids are in control of their clothing and their style. Perhaps because they have a say in what they purchase, and they know there's a limit to how much they can have, some actual thought will go into what they buy.

Or maybe they'll just spend $200 on tie-dye tshirts and look like a Grateful Dead refugee.

Either way, we tried.

Do you have any additional rules you'd set forth for clothing? Would your stepkids think this is a good idea?


  1. This is a great new clothing plan. My stepdaughter is now out of the house but I always had some type of plan when she wanted something new. We wanted her to feel like she had the freedom she needed because of the family dynamic while still having some control. I became a step mom at 21 (12 years ago) and I sure wish your blog was around then. I really needed some guidance!

    1. Well thank you, Jenny! Even though your stepdaughter is now gone, I'm sure you'll come across someone in your life who is experiencing it for the first time and struggling. Feel free to send them here! Or, just read the blog and reminisce about those good times you had as a stepmom. Sounds like you were great at it!