! Tips

Look for sales and off-season buys - In today's retail environment sales happen all the time - so be on the lookout. There are certain times of the year to get bargains on various items. Clothing can go on sale at the beginning of a season but if your child can wait until the season is ending, prices on the clearance racks will be even better.

Shop with a purpose - Avoid leisure trips to the mall with your child. Shop only when you really need something.

Don't be afraid to return! - When you get home from the mall, have your child try on their new clothes again. Keep the tags on and be sure they still like the item as much as they did in the store. The same applies to home furnishings and accessories. Live with them for a few days and ensure they "fit" before removing tags.

"Shop" in your closet - Before going to the mall, check your child's closet and make sure they really need more. Perhaps a new accessory is all they need to freshen up their look. Make sure your child's closet is organized and ensure that their shoes and clothes are clean and in good repair to avoid last minute panic purchases before a big event.

at the shopping mall

It's easy to spend too much money at the mall. Shopping malls are designed to encourage high spending and tempt youth into impulse buying. It can be a challenge to keep on track and on budget at the mall. It's important to shop with a purpose!

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Comparison shopping

When you are going to the mall with your child to purchase something they need, ask them to help with the buying decision and guide them through the process. Check out all the stores that carry the item and have your child calculate the cost differences. Is there a sale at any of the stores? Is there a less expensive substitute?

The cost of being cool

Children can be susceptible to marketers and peer pressure when it comes to clothing, shoes or games they "must" have. Often, these are premium-priced items. It's important to discuss the difference between needs and wants, and the difference between cost and value. Take them to various stores to comparison shop for the item and similar items. Ask what other purchases they are willing to give up in order to have it. Suggest they take a break away from the mall before making a decision. In this cooling off period, they may realize they don't need the item after all.

Set up a clothing allowance

Sit down with your child and put a monthly or seasonal clothing allowance in place. Determine a basic dollar figure that will cover your child's clothing expenses for the year. Give your child the opportunity to practice independent budgeting within that allowance. Have them take an inventory of their existing clothes and plan out the purchases they will have to make over the next few months.