Jan 23, 2012

The Value of Money--Part 1 of 3

I went shopping for clothes last week. With all the clearance sales and coupons for even more money off, I figured it would be productive. I was right! I did really well and I've got several mix and match basics for rock-bottom prices.

In one store, I was standing in line behind a high school/college age girl. The cashier commented on the party dress she was buying. The girl said, "Oh, I thought it was pretty. I usually do that. I buy something because it's pretty, wear it one time and then it just sits in my closet. Sometimes I give it to a friend." I peeked at the price on the dress. It was "marked down" to $50. In a bag at my feet was what I found at another store. It was filled with clothes for my son. I had paid $56 for the clothes. Know what I got? Five turtlenecks for this/next winter in basic colors, five more turtlenecks for the winter after that, one sweater for this/next winter, two for the third winter, and a long-sleeved rugby striped shirt for this/next winter. For $56.

So, I was looking through one of my vintage magazines and came across an article about parents who were teaching their daughter to be wise with money, especially when it came to clothes. Though this isn't "series" day (that's tomorrow!), I'm going to split up the article into three parts so that you can read it, too.

Maybe someone of the younger set (maybe the girl at the mall?) will come across my posts and see something to inspire them to be wiser about their money.. I hope so!

Experiment in Responsibility by Irma Simonton Black
from Woman's Day, November, 1952

I suppose every parent is touched and pleased when his youngster exhibits signs of dawning adolescence--the small pin worn by a twelve-year-old girl hitherto scornful of ornament; the slicked-back hair of a boy who, a few months before, had to be examined around the ears for cleanliness.

But there's one place it's likely to hurt--the pocketbook. This is especially true with girls. Our daughter developed a high, wide, and handsome approach to clothes buying that, at times, left us wishing for the careless youngster whose favorite costume had been a western shirt and a pair of faded jeans. And she shared this trait with all her friends.

The loafers, for instance. Why, everyone wore loafers! A loaferless thirteen-year-old, according to connie, was in danger of social ostracism. We pointed out that her feet were narrow at the heel and that loafers would slip. We said they weren't good for everyday shoes. Connie got the loafers. They slipped at the heel and hurt her feet. but another variety would probably be more comfortable, she said. Her friend Ginny had a pair that she loved. At this point, her father and I put a collective foot down, although we were considered a pair of stonyhearted old fuddy-duddies.

Then there was the rosy-pink dress, seen and loved at first signt on a routine shopping trip for socks. THe dialogue went something like this:

"Oh, Mother, look! It's just what I need for Linda's party!"

She did need a dress. But she didn't need this one. I looked at the price tag and gulped. "But, Connie," I protested, "it's more than I had planned to pay for a dress at this time of year. In a few weeks you won't be able to wear wool. And this would need frequent cleaning, so it wouldn't be practical for school."

"Just let me try it on, please, Mother," Connie pleaded. "I don't have to get it just because I try it on."

We retired to the dressing room with a saleslady in tow. Need I tell the result?

The new dress looked adorable, and Connie's devotion to it lasted. But it returned from every outing with a spot and spent most of the early spring and the following fall at the cleaner's. The cleaning bills just about tripled the cost of the dress.

My husband and I surveyed the next years with dismay. Connie was just starting. What would she be like by the time she was sixteen? We hated the prospect of constant bickering and admonitions, but we certainly didn't intend to fall into the opposite mistake of letting Connie think she was the pampered darling of a couple of millionaires.

(What will Irma and her husband do? Will Connie become the great-grandmother of the girl that I saw in the mall? Tune in next week!)


K Quinn said...

Yes! Someone who shops for their child like me! I didn't have to buy Peanut clothes for the first 3 years of her life because I loaded up for $100 one day at a JCPenney sale. I've never hit anything that good since but I still shop years in advance.

Roxanne said...

K Quinn--I have ALWAYS shopped for J like that. If I had more children, I would have an entire system set up for hand-me-downs and buying ahead at extremely low prices!

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