I had barely walked through the door before my daughter was standing front and center asking me, "How soon can you take me and my friends to the mall?" She had been saving her money, and had asked earlier in the week if we could take her and some friends to the mall over the weekend to go shopping. 

Apparently it was happening that night.

Less than an hour later, I was on my way to the mall with three very chatty twelve year olds in the back. My daughter had her cash in her purse, and it was understood that she needed to be responsible enough to determine how much she wanted to spend, as well as whether each individual item was worth it's cost.

I make sure I have such conversations with her as I want her to learn how to manage her money well, but I also don't want to beat her over the head with financial concepts. Growing up, it seemed my parents were constantly telling me the things I wanted were too expensive. I vowed that when I grew up I would never buy generic products and shop at only trendy clothing stores.

Note: Those memories have a tinge of irony as I write this while drinking a store brand soda, wearing workout clothes I bought at Walmart.

When we're paying the bill, we retain control over the purchases and do occasionally veto an overly expensive item. But on this night, she was going to be shopping essentially on her own. I wanted to give her some space and see how she'd do. As we pulled into a parking spot, I told the girls that I would be waiting outside each store on a bench and would follow them through the mall at a safe, yet non-embarrassing distance. They all giggled in approval.

For three hours I followed them around the mall.

At 8:45pm a voice from overhead stated that the mall was closing in 15 minutes. After getting some ice cream, we headed for the van. My daughter started telling me about her experience, particularly about a shirt she had tried on in the very last store. She liked it, but quickly put it back when she found that it cost $40.

Good girl.

Then she described a sweatshirt she really liked with a price tag of $50. Her friend broke into the conversation, blurting out that my daughter was about to put it back when they noticed it was on a clearance rack for 70% off. The third girl then described how the three of them worked together to determine what the price would really be.

They correctly calculated the price at $15.

My daughter pulled the sweatshirt out of her bag to show it to me. I stole a glance at the bright orange zip up sweatshirt in the rearview mirror. I smiled with pride at the sequence of events.

My daughter is going to be just fine.

Related Links:

When Kids Hear an Argument About Money

Who Knew Dance Recitals Were so Expensive

How to be a Rock Star Parent

Travis Pizel, debt management plan customer with leading provider of debt relief, CareOne Services, Inc. Travis Pizel

Travis is a contributing writer for the A Straight Talk on Debt blog. He is also a very active member of the CareOne community forums. Travis is currently enrolled in a CareOne Debt Management Plan (DMP). Travis candidly shares his personal journey to pay off his debt and the tips he's learned along the way. As a father and husband he provides a unique perspective on balancing debt, finances, and family in Minnesota. You can also read more from Travis on the Enemy of Debt blog, where he is a featured blogger. Compensated Blogger for CareOne Debt Relief Services.

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