Question of the Day – Kid’s Shoes

Here’s something that’s been on my mind since it’s nearly time for kids to go back to school:

How much do you spend on your kids’ shoes? Do you make them contribute their own money towards the purchase?

Shopping for tennis shoes has become a real burden for me. It seems like the prices keep creeping upwards everytime I go to look at shoes for my boys. My oldest is now in men’s sizes, which automatically means his shoes are more expensive than they used to be.

My wife and I used to have a $60 limit and what we would put towards a pair of tennis shoes. But, after looking this last weekend, I bumped it up to $80. Maybe I’m a sucker but it just seemed like there wasn’t a lot of selection in the below $80 price range.

My oldest son picked out some Nike Shox Turbos that were $110 (That’s WAY MORE THAN I EVER PAID FOR A PAIR OF TENNIS SHOES!). I told him he could get them but that he was going to have to come up with the $40. He decided to wait and see what else he could find (it also helped that they didn’t have his size). Later that night he went on and found the shoes for a little less than the store but they required shipping. I told him to check out and he found a pair of Shox that he liked for $80. With shipping and sales tax, the total was around $95. He thought he got a good deal.

When he was looking at the $110 shoes, I tried to make him think about what he was doing by asking him, “Are you sure you want to spend that much money on a pair of shoes?” I told him that the $40 he was about to spend was nearly 10% of his ANNUAL allowance! I’m not sure if it got through to him or not but I am happy that he at least did a little bargain shopping before he made his purchase.

So, this brings us back to my questions of the day:

How much do you spend on your kids’ shoes? Do you make them contribute their own money towards the purchase?

27 thoughts on “Question of the Day – Kid’s Shoes”

  1. Hi,

    We are willing to pay for a decent mid level shoe. I remember cheap shoes I have had in the past, they don’t hold up very well and they are uncomfortable. I don’t want that for my kids. But I won’t pay for bling value.

    If the child wants to chip in their money for something “fancy”, fine. I do talk to them from time to time about value and such, but I take the position that it is their money. And better to blow $40 and regret it as a teen, than $400 as a college student, or $4000 as a young adult. (Indeed best of all $4 when they are little)

    Let them be stupid when the pain is in reality small and transitory, so they learn early.

  2. Rod,

    Good points. Although I tried to talk to my son about his purchase, I was prepared to let him go through with it as long as he had the money. I just want to teach my kids how to think about stuff BEFORE they make a decision.

  3. I have a 12 year old, and a 6 year old, and obviously we set their budgets differently. The 12 year old gets $50. If she wants more she has to come up with it. The 6 year old simple doesn’t care as long as they have Spiderman on them.

    I remember when $20 sneakers were top of the line, ie. Converse, Adidas, Puma, wow I’m old.

  4. I can still get a good pair of sneakers for my son under $60 since he is in a size 5.. My daughter opts to purchase kids/boys shoes since they go up to a size 7 and she can wear a size 6 or 6.5 which is equivalent to a woman’s 7.5 or 8. My limit is $60 but I have been known to bend when its a limited edition shoe *I’m a sucka I can admit it* but that money is usually taken away from HER allowance or she gets LESS of something else. My daughter is a fashion snob so she plans her allowance to allow for more shoes/clothing while my son is real simple and as long as he has a fresh pair of AF1’s he is ok.. while my daughter needs a different shoe for each day and still rotate shoes she has from 2 yrs ago.. *sigh* I tend to find deals at the outlets or when my local store has a 2 for $$ deal or buy 1 get one 50% off

  5. It’s great that your kid will feel a bit of the pain for buying the shoes, and recognized it and searched. Shoes are something kids really like, they go through fast, and are over priced.

    There are plenty of places to find good deals on shoes. The Shoe Carnival is one of my favorite.

    If your kids have reasonable sized feet, they can find big selections in the clearance isle. Sadly, my feet have grown too big, and there rarely is anything there for me anymore.

  6. Check Kohl’s Department Store. ( You should be able to find a good pair of name brand tennis shoes for middle-class budget.

  7. I forgot to mention my daughter does tons of research before she purchases a shoe and utilizes coupons and free shipping codes because she has a shoe fetish.. She has amazed me at times by getting 3 pair of shoes for under $100 and utilizing her OWN money.. she always checks the clearance racks first to maximize her spending power

  8. Hi JLP,

    Hope you’re surviving the rain!

    As for your question, I just paid $60 for a pair of tennis shoes for my daughter (which was the most I’ve ever spent). I tend to stay in the $30-$40 range because she’s still growing and I know that her feet will grow before the shoes give out. Now that she’s almost 12, her growth spurts aren’t as drastic as they once were…so I’m sure the $80 range isn’t too far away for me, either.

    And I always encourage her to pitch in her own money when she really wants something. She’s learning to work for what she wants (via chores and such) and she now values each dollar she has.

  9. I pay $35 at Big 5. People charging $80 are playing a game. You just have to find the place that doesn’t screw around. Look near the university, if you have one.

  10. Definitely would not do what you did. First, I raised three sons and never spent $80.00 on any shoes until they became competitive athletes in high school. Second, I would have used your son’s desire for expensive shoes as a teaching moment and STRONGLY discouraged him from spending such a large percentage of his income on a depreciating, highly consumable product. Better to start young with these lessons.

  11. I just paid $40 for my 1 year old. Size 6.5 in infants. I usually shop at Marshall’s/TJ Max and can normally get a pair of New Balance sneakers for $30 (for myself).

    You should wait until Footlocker/Champs has their friends and family discount. They seem to run it every couple of months. It amounts to 30% off. Tell you son to wait until those weekends!

  12. ToughMoneyLove,

    I hear what you’re saying but my son won’t learn that lesson until he experiences the pain of his decisions.

  13. Ive always been a shoe addict, especially limited edition Nikes! Although Ive paid up to hundreds for limited edition shoes, I think the industry can be a scam.

    Stephon Marbury of the NBA in 2006 started his own low cost training show line in an effort to revolutionize the shoe world. His entire line sells for $8.98!

  14. Egads! $80 on tennis shoes?!? I wouldn’t spend more than $30 on tennis shoes, but than I try not to spend more than $20 on a paid of shoes, unless they’re a really nice pair of heels (or knee high boots) that I’ll be able to use for many years.

  15. Slinky,

    Keep in mind that this is pretty much his only pair of shoes, unlike my daughter who has to have a pair of shoes for nearly every outfit (according to my wife. My daughter’s only 4 so her shoes aren’t nearly as expensive).

  16. Wow, I’ve never spent more than $30 for shoes. Usually I buy them for ~$15-20 at Costco. The “Court Classic” tennis shoes are excellent, and having tried on more expensive ones I see no benefit whatsoever to paying more.

  17. Having your kids chip in is a really good way to find out how important a purchase is to them. If mom and dad are picking up the tab of course they have to have it that second. My daughter had to save up for her first pair of Etnies (I think). They were $60.00. It took her a year because she kept blowing her allowance on other things. Since then I have found the shoes for less than in the Journey’s store. Her second and third pair were bought on sale. She learned about clearance shopping from that.
    Having to save and wait taught her that the item will still be there when she has the money. You can walk away and buy it later when you can afford it.
    I grew up without alot and have worked hard to give my child things I didnt have. Sometimes I wonder if I am taking away from her lessons in hard work and delayed gratification.
    If he decides to use the money for the shoes it should be OK. I tell my daughter it’s better to spend a little extra money on something you use every day and save it other places like passing on a 30 dollar shirt.

  18. I think you are right on track….setting a reasonable limit for kids to have nice shoes, clothes, etc., and letting them pay their own way if they want something more. I know I haven’t paid that much for a pair of tennis shoes for myself ever, but I remember the pain of wearing non-brandname shoes in jr high because my parents wouldn’t pay. I survived, but letting kids make the choice and pay the difference allows them to learn.

  19. Reading through everything, I see there is confusion between want and need. Your child needs a gym or tennis shoe, and wants bling. The next question that should be answered is what is the most inexpensive way to get a quality shoe, whatever quality means to you. If quality means buying over-hyped, over-priced shoes, then you have already decided on a minimum price level, unless you can find last year’s shoes at a good discount.

  20. my kids are still young (7 and 5) so high-priced shoes aren’t even an option yet. payless fits the bill for me (and i’ve been getting catalina coupons for them recently).

    i do think it’s important to get a good shoe for athletic purposes and would not mind spending money on that. but i’m not buying nikes just to look good at school. maybe with girls i won’t have that problem?

  21. How old are we talking? I mean they get only 400/year and are willing to blow 1/4 of their annual salary on shoes? I realize that the kids part was less, but looking at the whole process. Ouch. Are they still growing? Because then I’d draw the line firmly, by letting them spend the entire amount. My shoes are $50 at the outlet mall. I also wear shoes that I might not be caught dead in 25 years ago. zappos has some nice shoe prices, but maybe they aren’t fancy enough

  22. We buy our shoes at: DSW, Kohl’s,, Target, Dicks, Bass Shoe outlet, etc. I try to use % coupon if shopping at Kohl’s or Bass (join their email list); 10% shopping spree card if at Target, and enjoy rebate $ from DSW and Dicks after the purchase…

    My guys can even fit in rugged “women’s” shoes at times–the middle one didn’t even notice w/his hiking shoes! Of course we always check the clearance rack first at all locales!

    I try to keep the price below $60…No crocs, either!

  23. This is absolutely great. I just had the very same conversation with my two boys today. Although, I very rarely win.My oldest was wanting the Shox as well last year. While my oldest son is one that usually takes care of stuff very well….I rarely have to buy more than one pair of shoes a year for school. So, I don’t mind paying a little extra…. But, we have a shadow child (the youngest) who has to wear the same item… So the 110 would cost us eventually 220. They typically don’t run those on the buy one get the other half off. HA. However, when I explained to them that they would be sent home from school because they had no clothes on they ask me what I was talking about. I said well with shoes like that you don’t need clothes, because if I am going to pay that…you can bet that is going to be the first thing people notice and I am not covering them up with pants. Besides at prices like that you will at least have to wait until Christmas for your clothes. Well needless to say I did win this argument as my kids drew up this image of entering school in just tennis shoes. I think that was the first time I ever beat my kids at their own argument. They have not mentioned Shox again. We compromised and purchased another style of Nike.

  24. First off, I will never pay $100 for a pair of athletic shoes. Especially for a child whose feet are still growing. We pay may $20-30 per kid depending on age and what is available. We spend more on the oldest because i doubt that her feet will grow much more. I have two that are into softball and I see people spending all kinds of money on equipment for that and wonder what they are going to do with all that expensive stiff when they out grow it in six months or less. If my children can come up with the money then they can get whatever they want as long as they can justify getting it. I think that this always helps especially since they don’t want to spend that much of their own money on them. I also don’t understand why they have gotten so expensive, just because some person that I don’t necessarily want my kids looking up to wears them. The prices have gotten to be just way out of hand.

  25. After shopping a bit, I determine how much a “nice” but basic shoe should cost. If my son wants more shoe, then he will pay the difference. He has a job and will often pay.

  26. GAW…….. I have one better than that.

    What we should be asking is the following question.. Why is it that children and infant shoes cost the same as the adult shoes. This situation is also true in clothing. Next time you are in the store compare a like brand name item, same sku# if possible, in jeans, shirt and a jacket. One adult and one infant/child size and then tell me that is anything more than a racket. BUT, the reason they can do and do is SIMPLE…. it is because we buy it. It reminds me of the movie Evan Almighty when he ask God ( Morgan Freeman) how in the world would he get the animals on the boat. He simply said you build it and they will come. Just like clothes…if you make it and put it out there…Some one will buy it. Although, situations differ in moral complexity but the rationale is that whether we need it or not…we buy it. So basically, I could honestly say I would not change the price if no one ask me to either. But it is crazy.

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