While Mr. Moe and I are quietly plotting our escape from the traditional working world partly by cutting costs where we can, two things we refuse to do are; sacrifice family experiences or Miss Moe’s standard of life. Lucky for us, she hasn’t been raised spoiled based on our area’s standards. However, from a U.S. perspective, she has more than most; and from a world perspective, she lives a life of absolute luxury. We live in a high cost area; consequently, there are some “keeping up with the Jones” that is kind of expected. We adhere to the lower end of these standards to keep our child off of the pariah rung of the social ladder, but we do spend a bit to do so. Do I want her to not “care” what others think, and for brandnames not to matter? Of course, but that just is not a reality for my teen girl. This is something we can accommodate with some creativity while still maintaining a reasonable budget.
Miss Moe has a nice network of friends on a dance team where the girls are very close, gifts are exchanged, and birthdays are celebrated – which can get expensive. And, like most teenage girls, Miss Moe is a very social animal, and not much of a planner. So, we often find ourselves in a situation where we need a gift within hours (sometimes less). Before the gift closet, I found last minute gift shopping both frustrating and expensive.
Most parents of teenagers aren’t in the habit of reflecting on their good fortune, but teenage girls are rather predictable creatures with their material likes (think fashion and beauty products). So, in this stage of life, there’s some savings in predictability. This same idea may not necessarily work for an age group of children with quickly passing fancies. My self-inflicted rules for the Gift Closet:
- Only pay 25% retail
- If I find something at the occasional 90% off (doesn’t happen often) – buy lots
- Keep some of the favorite stores coupons in my purse
- Don’t shop with a specific friend in mind – friends drift in and out of the lives of children (keep it generic)
- Always keep my daughter’s wish list in mind (Christmas and birthdays)
- I use the iPhone “Note” app to track spending for Miss Moe’s gifts so I don’t overspend
Two of my favorite stores for the teen girl genre are:
- Victoria Secret/Pink
- Semi Annual sale (late in the sale when discounts are at their steepest)
- Bath and Body Works
- The semi-annual sale (75% off only) and ALWAYS with a coupon
An example of some of the deals (pictured in the closet and throughout this post):
- Bath and Body Works Triple Wicked Candle
- Retail $22.50/Paid $3.25
- Victoria Secret Small Purse with Lotion and Spritz
- Retail $25.00/Paid $5.00
- Victoria Secret Bath Bombs (“throw in” items)
- Retail $6.50/Paid $1.50
- Victoria Secret lip glosses (“throw in” items)
- Retail $10.00/Paid $2.99 (broke my cardinal 25% rule here – oops!)
- Bath and Body Works Spritzes and Creams (6oz) (“throw in” items)
- Retail $6.00 ea./Paid $1.06 ea.
Living in this expensive area, there have been times when Miss Moe has had a few friends “request” specific items (to my horror). I have put my foot down on this first world problem and have always provided gifts from the closet. Miss Moe’s choice is to use her allowance to buy something different. There is no quicker way to make a spendthrift teen a miser than by declaring an item be paid for from their own money.
When Miss Moe has a Secret Santa, a dance team event, or a birthday party – I give her a “budget” and tell her to use the retail price of these items when assembling the gift (I typically toss something in a little extra). An additional benefit to the gift closet method is for the shopper in your life…. if someone in your house loves to shop – just give them the rules, the budget, and you’re on your way to a nice little gift closet. Ultimately, we aren’t looking to be draconian about our cuts and trims from the family budget. There are ways to indulge with a little less bite on the bottom line.
Happy Bargain Shopping and Building the Gift Closet,