Do you tell them the truth?

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To Tell the Truth?

I am a frugal 28-year-old mother of a 7 year old and 4 1/2 year old (both girls), and I am seven months pregnant. I shop at my local Goodwill here in San Diego, and I probably go once a week or every other week. I always find great looking, name brand clothing for my daughters. I love getting new (to them) inexpensive stuff all the time. It feels really good to get a good deal.

Should I tell my girls the name of the store where I do a lot of their shopping? Do I tell them it's used clothing? Should I explain to them how we get such good deals? They usually go with me to Goodwill, but they have never noticed the name or have paid much attention to it. My mom says that I shouldn't say the name (Goodwill) because she's afraid that they will mention it someday at school and others may have bad comments.

Lessons Learned in Childhood

Several thoughts come to mind about Goodwill, The Salvation Army, etc.

  1. Look around. People of all socio-economic groups shop there!
  2. These stores are set up to earn money for their organizations; you are directly participating in helping them.
  3. The children will eventually notice (as my grandchildren did after shopping there with me, on a regular basis, for three years). Although they are well off, they ask to visit the Thrift Shops to spend the money they have earned.
  4. Share with your children the facts. Money goes farther here and show them by comparison shopping. Tell them you as a family are helping others as well as yourselves. They can tell their friends or choose not to share this great secret!
  5. Donate your outgrown or unwanted items back to Goodwill and The Salvation Army.
  6. Share with them, with pride in your voice, that this is how you choose to spend your money.

All important lessons are easier learned in childhood.

Let's Head to the "Specialty Store"

When we were young and our parents were struggling financially, we never went to any store but Goodwill. The occasion was special, and it was always announced that we were going to the "Specialty Store."

At the time, we didn't know that it was a second-hand store, only a great store to get great bargains. We were given the treat of picking out something "special" each time. We loved being able to pick out multiple outfits, instead of getting one shirt or one pair of pants at the "other" stores.

To this day, I still shop at second-hand stores and have instilled the value of a dollar in my own children. My children now ask to go to Goodwill before hitting the mall stores!

Don't Worry About It

I don't think you should worry right now about having to explain to them where they get their "new" things. It is only important to teach them that they are fortunate to have it in the first place. Believe me, the time may come when they will be mortified about getting anything that is not new and purchased from a mall. But, if you've already made the issue unimportant, then they'll be better off as they get older.

Refrain from Telling Them

I agree with your mother. There is no need to tell them at this age (or later) where you shop. Though it is a pleasure for you to get good deals, your girls may be taunted by others their age. And, yes, children are cruel, and often, the taunt will hang on to them for many years. By the way, I also shop at Goodwill and many other second-hand stores.

Feel Good about Your Frugal Lifestyle

Yes, you should tell the kids where you shop and be happy about it when you do! Keeping secrets from the kids in this way will only give them the idea that there is something bad or shameful with being frugal and wearing pre-worn clothing. My children, now ages 17 and 19, love the idea of getting the name brand clothing at a fraction of the prices that their friends pay at "regular" stores. They also love that "broken in" feeling that pre-worn clothing has instead of wearing something stiff and shrinkable. They get clothing that is soft and will stay the same size!

Negative comments at school have never been an issue for them since they are wearing the same clothing their friends do. Their friends generally just want to know how to get there. This has become especially true since they and their friends now pay for at least some of their own clothing. If you feel good about the frugal lifestyle you have chosen, your kids will catch the excitement from you. It is also a good way to begin lessons about peer pressure that might help them stand up for their family's values as they get older.

Self-Worth Is Not in Possessions

Hi. I am a schoolteacher. In our town, I know a lot of up-scale people that shop at Goodwill because it is simply the smart thing to do! Be proud when you tell your daughters that you shop there, because they will grow up being smarter about their money than the other kids who grow up thinking they need to be throwing their money away to be accepted.

When you go to Goodwill next and the kids find nice things that they like, go ahead and buy them. Then, take your kids to browse around in a department store and let them see the ridiculous prices for some of the same clothing. Tell them that it is important to be smart with their money so that they can buy the things they really want on down the road, like a car. Then, for a treat, let them spend some of the money that you saved by going to Goodwill. They will learn the value of saving their money for more important things. Also, please teach your kids that their self-worth is not in their possessions. Truest friends will not care if their clothes are from the Salvation Army or from Famous Barr.
Meredith in MO

"The Clothes Store"

I've been shopping at thrift stores since my two boys were infants. My mom and I have always called it "The Clothes Store." When their friends asked where they got the cool shirt, they would reply "The Clothes Store."

When in Doubt, Tell the Truth

Twain wrote, "When in doubt, tell the truth." If they ask and they will, then tell them. Children are the cruelest people on earth and the easiest to hurt. They may not understand right now. When the time comes, just sit them down and explain why you need to save money. Your children might surprise you.

There is no shame in going to the Goodwill or Salvation Army. Those that shop there help others in worse shape. So keep you chin held high and be proud that you and your children will be helping others less fortunate.

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Kids Can Be Cruel

I wouldn't bother telling them where you get their clothes, especially if they haven't even asked. When they are older and realize what store it is, they can decide if they should mention it to friends or not. I shop at Salvation Army a lot, especially for my office clothes. When someone does ask me where I got such a cute outfit, I tell them. They are shocked that you can get such quality items there, and they usually go check it out for themselves. But I know kids can be cruel, so I just wouldn't mention it for now.

Explain the Concept

I also shop at resale shops and local thrift stores. I don't think your 4 1/2 year old would understand, but you could explain to your 7 year old the concept of a thrift store. You might even consider donating some things around your home as well.

I can remember being embarrassed as a child that my mom took me to yard sales, but now I love them and am a very thrifty person. I'm glad my mom pinched pennies because it taught me a lot about money and saving. I guess I would have to side with your mother and not mention "Goodwill" because children can be very mean at school. It doesn't really matter where her clothes came from and nobody really needs to know. My children are too young to understand right now, but I plan on explaining it to them some day. I'll tell them they can either have one shirt from a department store or 10 from the thrift store. I don't think it will take them long to figure out that the thrift store is a pretty great place. And you never know what you will find.
Lydia, mom of 3

Be Proud of Your Frugal Shopping

I'm a 29-year-old mother who is also very frugal. I find nothing wrong with explaining to your children where you shop. I used to shop at the nice department stores when I was younger and I didn't have a family. But now, I save any way I can. I am a stay-at-home mom and my husband is the sole provider. My daughter is still too young to understand but she knows how to say "Goodwill," and I have never been ashamed to tell anyone when asked where I got her cute Tommy Hillfiger outfit. With some pride, I tell them how much I paid for it. Almost everyone agrees with me when I explain where I shop and why.

Others may be surprised to know that Goodwill carries a lot of new items from department stores, such as Dillards, Macy's and even Target. Because of my frugal shopping, we as a family are able to enjoy many other things, such as going to theme parks, festivals, concerts and many kid activities. We live in a nice home and I drive a luxury vehicle. The money we save is a smart thing and one day my daughter will know that too. I also know that one day she probably will be made fun of, but if it's not about where her mom shops, it will be how she wears her hair. Kids will always make fun of other kids, but at least, I know that my daughter will learn how to appreciate what she has and respect others for who they are and not for where they shop.

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Teach Wise Shopping Habits

Tell them the truth in this manner. Go price shopping at a traditional department store that carries clothes they like. Have the older one keep track of prices and clothing articles that they like in a notebook. Then have them choose which articles they would buy with the amount that you set. Next go to the thrift store and have them repeat the process. The older one will be able to see how money goes further and that they can get many more items for their money. Showing them wise shopping habits at a young age should help them to understand that thrift store shopping is not something to be ashamed about.

Don't Have Regrets

You will never be sorry that you were honest with your children, but you may have regrets one day if you do not tell them the truth. This may seem like a small thing (shopping at Goodwill and then lying about it), but when your children are older and they learn the truth, they will wonder why you lied to them about such a "small thing." There's no shame in being frugal, but if you cannot be honest with your children about shopping at Goodwill, you always have the option of shopping someplace else!

Take the Next Step

  • It is never too early to start teaching your children the importance of saving. Compare savings and money market account rates and open an account for them today.
  • Don't allow debt to prevent you from providing for your family the way you would like. Start taking the steps to get out of debt today so you can give your family a better tomorrow.
  • It's tough raising kids today! You need every time and money saving idea you can find. That's why you'll want to get our free weekly Dollar Stretcher for Parents newsletter. You'll find great ideas designed just for parents that will help your family 'live better...for less'! Subscribers get a copy of our ebook Little Luxuries: 130 Ways to Live Better...For Less for FREE.

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