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Back to School Giving: Learning to Share Freely

Back To School Giving: Learning to Share Freely | www.TheHeavyPurse.comLast week I shared my survival plan for back-to-school shopping, so now I’d like to share with you the results of our back-to-school giving. We’ve always donated outgrown clothes but this year, it was extra special for both the girls and me.

When the girls were younger, I used to sneak into their rooms and go through their closets and toys while they were visiting friends or running an errand with their Dad. This way there were no tears to influence me. It was easier and safer to do it by myself. Now days, I simply allocate more time because:

1. The girls now notice when things go missing. 😀
2. I want them to share and give openly, so they need to help.

This past weekend when we went through their closets, I had the biggest smile on my face. The girls were freely giving—no pouting or begging to keep a favorite outfit that no longer fit but was still deeply loved. Instead they were excited to share their clothes, particularly the clothes they would have previously wanted to keep.

They Better Understand the Purpose Behind Sharing

Lauren and Taylor Donate ClothesThis year we had some great conversations around spending and sharing. They acknowledged the clothes they didn’t wear and were honest about why. Last Fall, Lauren absolutely had to have a pair of Converse sneakers that were only worn once or twice. She admitted she only wanted them because her friends had them and really didn’t like them.

While I am, of course, never happy about money spent on things they weren’t worn, the truth is we’ve all made that same mistake, sometimes repeatedly. What I want the girls to understood is the cost of those mistakes, which Lauren really got this year. By spending money on something she never really liked, she didn’t have money left in her budget for something she did want, which was an awfully high price to pay.

In an attempt to get some use out of the shoes, Lauren asked, “Should we save them for Taylor?”

Taylor replied, “No. I only wear pretty shoes.”

Now that’s a girl who knows what she likes! 🙂

There was a bit of hesitation in the girls the first time they put a favorite outfit in the donation pile. So I reminded them that keeping clothes they don’t wear hidden in their closet benefits no one. But somewhere, there was another young girl who would treasure it as much as they did.

This startled them because they had not thought about it that way. They shared because it’s what we taught them to do. They gladly shared some of clothes and toys that they had little attachment to, but there were a few things that were hard to let go. They never thought about someone else loving something they once loved as much as they did. The earlier hesitation was gone. They were ready to give freely and without regret.

My Values Are Their Values

As parents, we need to demonstrate, in both words and actions, the behaviors and values we want our kids to emulate. So twice a year I go through my closets and donate the things I no longer wear. Lauren and Taylor always help, which is so important. We ohhh and ahhhh and I always tell them the next owner will love the clothes even more than I did.

My mom was visiting the last time I went through my closet. She got first dibs and was thrilled to take a few of my pieces. Seeing how excited she was, helped drive home the message that keeping once loved clothes in the closet is a mistake. Giving clothes to others who can wear and love them feels good and does not rob you of your memories attached to a favorite outfit.

It Takes Time

I started talking to the girls about money around age 3, but the last two years I’ve spent more time explaining how we use our money and why. When they were younger, I wanted to make sure they always observed good financial behavior, now they are also ready to understand why good financial behavior matters.

Some money concepts may take a little time for your kids to understand and embrace while others they will grasp quickly. Be persistent and continue talking to them and demonstrating the behavior to them. All good things take time and helping them develop a healthy relationship with money is worth it.


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August 19, 2013  •  32 Comments  •  Back to School

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  1. Monday, August 19th, 2013
    It's so important to walk the walk, as you say here. You can't expect kids to do something that you never do yourself. And by starting from such an early age, you can make these kinds of things feel just like a normal part of life, rather than some big sacrifice that must be endured. Glad to hear your daughters have gotten on board.
    • Monday, August 19th, 2013
      Kids absolutely notice when you don't walk the walk and will call you out. :D It's definitely my hope and belief that by ingraining these good habits in them at such a young age, they will become second nature to them and habits they will keep on their own.
  2. Monday, August 19th, 2013
    That's so great that you include the girls in the donating process. It's definitely something I want to expose my kids to early in life.
    • Monday, August 19th, 2013
      Thanks, DC! It's definitely a lot of fun to do together and to see the girls understand how they can make difference.
  3. Monday, August 19th, 2013
    We are currently going through a lot of our stuff and plan on donating much of it. It always gives you a good feeling knowing that you are helping someone in need and it is something that I want my son to get on board with when he is old enough to understand what it is all about.
    • Monday, August 19th, 2013
      It does feel good to help others out and a great reminder of how fortunate we truly are too. I constantly remind the girls that we are lucky duckies. I'm sure once your son is old enough to help that he'll be excited to help out too since it's something he will have you soon you already do.
  4. Monday, August 19th, 2013
    That is so sweet that you involve your kids! We are definitely doing the same with ours, the oldest at least. She gave away quite a few toys last year before Christmas...and I know that she felt good about it!
    • Monday, August 19th, 2013
      That's great, Holly! It's really rewarding to see our kids share and give selflessly. We all have so much and sometimes when we give it away is when we really appreciate what we have.
  5. Monday, August 19th, 2013
    Love it!
    • Monday, August 19th, 2013
      Thanks, Nick!
  6. Monday, August 19th, 2013
    I love this story! And as you mentioned, the girls that receive these cute outfits will love them as much as your girls do\did.
    Donating their clothes and things they do not use anymore is a great habit for them to get into and one that they can repeat throughout the rest of their lives.
    • Monday, August 19th, 2013
      Thanks, Sicorra! They absolutely will and I really think the girls understood that this go-round. And it is hard to part with something you love when you don't think others will value it. It is a great habit and why I stress sharing so much to go the girls. It's really great to see them embrace it even further.
  7. Monday, August 19th, 2013
    Great story, especially with the girls having an "a-ha" moment that donating something that they no longer can wear can bring a lot of joy to someone else. I also like to rummage through my closet at least once a year to make sure that what I have does not go to waste - at times I (sadly) rediscover things I forgot about, and when I donate some clothes it's both physically (space-wise) and mentally freeing to have less stuff.
    • Monday, August 19th, 2013
      I've found clothes lurking in my closet that I've forgotten too, sometimes purposefully, I think! :) You're absolutely right when we get rid of the things we no longer need or use - we not only clear out physical clutter but some mental clutter too. Great point!
  8. Monday, August 19th, 2013
    Awe good for Taylor & Lauren! And yes we have all purchased things we thought we would like but never wore. I try to go through things several times per year and ask myself if I really need it. And sometimes it's still hard to give a few things up.
    • Monday, August 19th, 2013
      I've never meant any woman who hasn't done that at least once! :) Sometimes it takes a few tries before we can give something up we have a strong attachment to as well.
  9. Monday, August 19th, 2013
    "Taylor replied, “No. I only wear pretty shoes.” Now that’s a girl who knows what she likes!" Lol, that so sounds like our daughter. Hey, at least she knows what she likes early on. :) Seriously though, nice post Shannon! It's so vital to walk the walk as well...otherwise the point just will not hit home.
    • Monday, August 19th, 2013
      Taylor is my girlie girl and definitely knows what she likes! We definitely have to walk the walk and talk the talk. They notice when they don't align with one another too!
  10. Monday, August 19th, 2013're such an awesome mom Shannon! Your girls are very lucky to have a mom like you :)
    • Monday, August 19th, 2013
      Thanks, Mackenzie! I feel pretty blessed to be their Mom and your daughter is lucky to have you too!
  11. Girl Meets Debt
    Monday, August 19th, 2013
    Taylor sounds a lot like young GMD (but smarter about money of course because Shannon is her mom) ;) I think it's awesome at such a young age your girls feel good about giving - talk about a priceless money less!
    • Monday, August 19th, 2013
      I think Taylor is very much like a young GMD! :) And when you become Mom, I know you'll be teaching your kids how to be money smart and stylish at the same time. J is going to be in so much trouble!
  12. Corina Ramos
    Monday, August 19th, 2013
    Hi Shannon!

    Aw, this is a great story! We have been doing this for the longest time too. We go through our closets every three months. At first it was hard for the girls even the boys to part with their stuff. But I set an example by going through my closet too. :)

    Now that they kids are older they understand why it's important to give and now I don't have ask them to get in their closet, they do it on their own and that makes me feel great.

    Hope you had a great day lady! Have a great week :).
    • Monday, August 19th, 2013
      I think it can be very hard to go through closets and give away clothes. Sometimes I think kids think they are giving away more than the clothes but also the memories attached to them. It's great you're setting a great example for your kids which I know made it much easier for them to follow you. You have a great week too!
  13. Monday, August 19th, 2013
    I love it when kids give! It's so inspiring to see how naturally it happens for them. We do something similar with our kids during Christmas. Our school collects clothing donations to be given to a local shelter that serves underprivileged kids. It's a neat lesson for them, especially during that season, when the focus from society is more about getting than giving.
    • Tuesday, August 20th, 2013
      Me too, Brian. It's great to see them develop a sharing mindset. It isn't always easy to give away our things and the earlier they discover the joy of doing so, the easier it will be for them to continue the practice. We adopt a family at Christmas and I think it's been eye-opening for them as well.
  14. Monday, August 19th, 2013
    A friend of ours started having her child donate one of their toys every Christmas since he was 3. And now 6, I heard him get all excited last Christmas about sharing his toy with someone who doesn't have any. I think I will start doing that early with my little one as well. Sharing is a great lesson learned (and a great way to declutter!).
    • Tuesday, August 20th, 2013
      What a great idea! And it's fantastic she started when he was so young too and now looks forward to it every year. It's easy to live in our world and forget there are those less fortunate who we can help.
  15. Tuesday, August 20th, 2013
    What a great story, Shannon! I find too, that when the kids know where the clothes/toys are going, it helps SO much. We have both a girl and a boy that we know that are younger than our kids that we now give our outgrown clothes to. The kids are so happy knowing that they're helping these two kids that it makes them eager to find stuff in their closets when they're going to be seeing them. Very cool. :-)
    • Wednesday, August 21st, 2013
      Thanks, Laurie. It really does help them when they understand who benefits. The girls always set aside a few pieces of clothes that they want to share with specific people too.
  16. Friday, August 23rd, 2013
    What a wonderful and meaningful post, Shannon! My kids are now old enough to know when we are decluttering, too. IT makes sense to them when we explain how their items will have a profound impact on the lives of others. Thanks for this reminder :).
    • Saturday, August 24th, 2013
      Thanks, Tony! It just makes sense to involve them in the process. And it is a lot of fun when they really see how their cherished belongings can help others and become their beloved things.
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    "As a Certified Financial Planner, it is my passion to help individuals and families build a healthy relationship with money. I look forward to helping you raise financially confident kids.” - Shannon Ryan