Question: My daughter is into branded items. I fear that her taste will make it difficult for her to achieve financial freedom. Any tips on how to deal with this widespread phenomenon among teenagers? – Concerned Mom via text
Answer: Hi Concerned Mom. You’re right, this penchant for branded items is a widespread phenomenon among teenagers. This reminds me of a small talk I had with a co-parent from my son’s exclusive Chinese Filipino school back in the 1997. We were seated at the parents’ section to witness our sons’ “Graduation” from Prep. She shared with me that she already had sons in high school and went on to say, “I’m very happy with Xavier School, except that the boys develop a very expensive taste! My high school boys wouldn’t be caught wearing Giordano shirts!”
Somehow this piece of information stuck to my mind. In the first place, I never considered Giordano shirts cheap. I actually like them, they’re value-for-money shirts that we have a few in our closets. This information probably made me conscious that I should raise my sons not to develop an “expensive taste.”
Over the years I got to meet a lot of my sons’ friends and yes some of them do wear expensive signature items but I never really felt that it was a big deal among them. In fact, I know a lot of Xavier moms who actually know the ins and outs of Divisoria where all items are sold at a much cheaper price. As for my sons, they never bothered to check the brands of the shirts and shoes I bought for them when they were younger because shopping for clothes and shoes was one of their least favorite activities. (click to see related story). It was when they reached their teens that they started to have some form of interest in shopping. If their common schedules allow, they prefer to shop with their dad because he’s more lenient with prices. My husband usually computes this way: Price tag divided by 3 because the boys borrow from each other. In fact, if the item is really pricey he sometimes justifies, “Divided by 4 because I intend to use it too!”
While our children are our dependents we should bear in mind that their propensity to develop an expensive taste lies heavily on how we indulge them. So be careful. I would rather have them develop good taste and this does not always mean expensive. Go to value-for-money shops and have a healthy mix of inexpensive items and a few investment classics (provided you can easily afford them, of course) in your and your daughter’s wardrobe.
Some parents end up giving in to their children’s plea to buy them luxury items because they (the parents) also patronize these products. Well, it should be explained to the kids that Papa and Mama already earned their keep and are entitled to these perks and it’s best for them to wait for the time when they too can afford to buy their own. Of course, it does not hurt to give in once in a while like on their graduation or milestone birthdays.
More importantly, check out your daughter’s motivation in buying signature items. Does she want expensive stuff so she gets the approval of her peers? Is she living up with the Joneses? (Oh, I think these days we say Keeping Up with the Kardashians?) Is there a void that she’s trying to fill with these luxury items?
I’ve always believed that a healthy self-esteem is the answer to peer pressure on issues like this. If your daughter knows and feels that she is a great person whether she’s in designer jeans or in a local brand that she bought at 50% off, she can still strut her stuff with confidence.
I stumbled upon a very interesting experiment that confirms my belief and I’d like to share it with you. Sanjay Sood, an Associate Professor at the UCLA Anderson School of Management, conducted an experiment to find out the relationship between self-esteem and product choice. (click link & go to No. 78 Spend Less Affirm More)
One group of subjects was made to state reasons why they are good people and recite self-affirmations like, “I’m good.” “I’m smart.” “I’m kind.” Afterwhich, they were asked to make purchase choices on lamps and calculators from two categories – 1.) physically attractive but more expensive; and 2.) more functional and cheaper but uglier.
The other group of subjects was asked to make the choice between the two categories without the exercise of self-affirmation.
The result was the group that recited self-affirmations chose the functional, cheaper but uglier products. This experiment was also conducted among design-conscious subjects and the results were the same with those of the non design-conscious subjects.
The experimenters’ hypothesis was, “Choosing beautiful things make people feel good about themselves.” And the experiment’s results show that beautiful products can be substitutes to self-affirmation. This explains the so-called Retail Therapy. You shop to make yourself feel good.
So does this mean that people who buy beautiful and expensive things are lacking in self-esteem? Don’t we always hear advertisers say, “Because you deserve the best, the beautiful, the expensive” and consumers end up justifying the expensive purchase because of a high sense of self? “Because I am a good person I deserve this product even if expensive!”
So which is which? My guess is if you know your worth and when you shop in your “cold state” (not emotionally charged), chances are you will be able to make more rational decisions. You will not buy things just because they look pretty even if they will break your bank account. On the other hand, you will not buy something just because it’s cheap but because it’s functional and it’s a value-for-money purchase.
So the next time your daughter asks you to shop with her, make sure that both of you are in your cold state – no big issues and sadness to deal with which you will try to mask with shopping. Then do some self-affirmations, “I’m good, I’m kind, I’m smart, I’m strong, I’m pretty and lovable in anything!” Who knows this might save you big bucks?
Wishing you financial happiness,