This weekend my daughter was dying to spend up the gift card she received for her 10th birthday, and as Sunday promised torrential downpours, I figured it was as good a day as any to hit Claire’s at the mall.

If you’ve never been to Claire’s or don’t quite remember it from 8th grade, the accessory store is pretty much a wide hallway just packed with cheap, loud, migrane-inducing accessories: Tons of glittering necklaces, rows of 80’s style Madonna gloves, miles and miles of sequins, and the gaudiest hair accoutrements known to humankind. All of which the tween girl simply must have.

My daughter certainly wanted it, as much as her little arms could carry, anyway.

So I let her pick out what she wanted, and while standing on line I explained to her that she may need to make some decisions about which items to keep. A single gift card (of unspecified amount) I doubted would cover the small fortune she had amassed in her arms. Sasha, though, thought otherwise. She truly believed the lone gift card might be enough to make a $50 purchase.

When we reached the register and found out the gift card was worth $10, Sasha had some serious thinking to do. I had already agreed to allow Sasha to bring some of her own money to subsidize the gift card amount, but when I suggested she use it for the beloved items she was holding, she balked. Suddenly the $15 dollar scarf was no longer necessary. The nylon peace-sign bracelet – history. Instead, she managed with the special buy two get one free offer to get three food-themed pairs of earrings for the amount of the $10 gift card. Now that’s a smart shopper.

Then it was off to my daughter’s favorite store, Justice. A store lauded by young girls and loathed by their mothers. A store filled with bold mutli-colored prints, an over-abundance of neon, scratch and sniff shirts and no item left unadorned by studs, spangles or rhinestones.

Usually just entering the store causes me a panic attack, but this time Sasha was armed with her own savings, and I didn’t have to worry about being forced into spending all my money on a ridiculously over-priced yet incredibly hideous garments. If she wanted it she could have it, but she would have to pay for it herself. I instructed her to look at the price tag and consider whether it was something special that she couldn’t find anywhere else.

Having just been to Old Navy where the t-shirts were a fraction of the price, Sasha found she didn’t really need anything from Justice. As much as she loves Justice, she hates parting with her money more. She decided to go back to Old Navy where the sale was on, and we had a coupon.

(Photo/Flickr: faster panda kill kill)