Kids And Finances

How I’m Using Jeans To Teach My Son About Finances

finances, financial tips, teenagers and money

My son is extremely picky about his jeans. I dread going shopping for new jeans with him, because he will pick out, try on, and approve jeans, but then decide somewhere down the road that he no longer likes them. One year I simply gave up and he wore shorts and warm up pants through the entirety of a Midwest Winter.

This year, I thought we finally had found the solution. While shopping in August, we had a very frank discussion regarding brand names, and what jeans he preferred. As an adult that cares nothing about brand names I find it a waste of money. But I do remember the pressures and difficulty of fitting in as a high school student, so I figured I’d cut him some slack.

We purchased five pairs of jeans from Aeropostale, two different styles. He had seen both styles in the store, but they didn’t have his size so we ordered them online. When they arrived, I had them try them on. I purposefully made a huge deal about it.

“Do they all fit?” I asked.

“Yes,” he responded.

“Do you like every pair?” I asked.

“Yes,” he responded.

“They are all approved?” I asked.

“Yes,” he responded.

“You’ll wear all of them?” I asked.

“YES!” he responded, rolling his eyes.

“Hey, you know why I’m asking. Right now the tags are still on them. If you don’t like them, that’s fine. I can return them, and we’ll keep looking. But if you like them, I’ll take the tags off.”

“I’ll wear them all, Dad,” he answered.

I took the tags off, and put all the jeans in his dresser drawer.

A few weeks later, on a Monday morning, he came down from his room and asked if I had any of his jeans clean in the dryer. I told him that they had just been put in the dryer, and would not be ready in time for him to wear to school that day.  He would have to wear one of his other pair.

“I don’t really like the darker ones.”

It was at this point I literally pulled out every remaining hair from my head. He had two more pair of brand new jeans he would not wear, and that I could not return. I’ve simply had enough of this. My son periodically shows signs of understanding the value of a dollar, but other times he seems completely oblivious to consequences of wasting money.


Image courtesy of John Kasawa at

There were two things that came out of my son’s latest reversal of acceptance of jeans:

  1. I took the latest jean rejects, and placed them in a plastic bin with all the others that I had recently assembled. I will be advertising them at Craig’s List as “almost new.” I’ve accumulated quite a selection over the last four years.  Hopefully someone will buy them cheap.
  2. I’m incorporating a new jean policy that will hopefully get his attention. If he approves a pair of jeans, and then later decides he will not wear them, he will be purchasing the jeans from me. I refuse to waste any more money on the jeans.

I could have went a little more harsh and required him to pay for his own jeans. But, as his parent it is my responsibility that he has clothes. If he decides he no longer likes a pair of jeans, he will then pay me for the pair of jeans he doesn’t like allowing the purchase of a new pair of jeans he will wear.

Hopefully he’ll put a little more thought into his answer before he says approves a pair of jeans.

Have you had a child that has been extremely difficult with buying clothes? How did you handle it?

Brought to you courtesy of Brock

About the author

Brock Kernin


  • You never said your sons age. High school I would say 14. As a parent you required. to put clothes on him. Walmart is a good start. If he wants anything more expensive he has to use his own money. The best year for our kids is when I gave them each cash to shop and they really saw how far money gets blown away fast. They made better choices on some high end stuff and what they could get by an some off brands.

  • @David – Pretty close – he’s 15. I really like that idea – give HIM the budgeted amount of money for clothes, and let him do the shopping. He’ll likely be much more cautious with his decisions, and if he ends up not liking something he would have to live with the consequences! Thanks for sharing!

  • Ah clothing, it’s so expensive!
    I was going to suggest what David suggested, too. Set a budget, and some parameters (ie: you have to buy 2 pairs of pants and the jacket that you need), and call it a day. If he buys stuff he doesn’t like, he’s stuck with it. Chances are good, he’ll only do that once.
    Buying them back off of you is a solid idea, too, but he will probably not fess up that he doesn’t like things, unless he’s in a stuck situation like he was this time with his jeans in the wash.

  • @Anne – I like the idea of also setting parameters as to what he needs to buy. He may not fess up with not liking things…but then he’d have less clothes to wear. 😉 Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  • I really like the idea of buying the jeans from you, and may have to try that. Like a couple of the other posters, we do a budget for my stepkids. They get a fixed amount to spend and how they spend it is up to them. It’s interesting because the boy will buy less pieces but more brand names, but the girl will go for quantity over quality.

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