One of the great things about North Florida is that we actually have seasons. As someone who spent most of her life in Southern California, this proved to be quite a shock. When we were making plans to move, one of our biggest criteria was that there wouldn't be any snow. I assumed that if we were living near the ocean and in a Southern state that the climates would be quite similar. But the temperature changes during the seasons are completely different.

This becomes a budget issue when it comes to clothes.

When the temperatures start to cool, our wardrobes have to change.

We live in an 85-year-old house which has a lot of historic charm, but very little closet space, which requires that our cool weather clothes are stored during the warm months and vice versa. So every year, we go through our warm weather clothes to discard what has been worn out and store them for the next season. And then we move our cool weather clothes into our closets and it's like having a new wardrobe again.

But for those of us with children, those cool weather clothes from last year have often been outgrown, and this can become a major expense item. Adding the fact that our kids want to be fashionable and cool can turn this into a major parent-child conflict. Out of our four boys, two cared a lot about how they looked, one cared some only because his brothers were close in age to him and pressured him into it, and our youngest couldn't care less. So we have had the range of arguing over designer labels to arguing about how you can't wear the same thing every day.

We resolved this by learning how to focus on the big things and to let the little things go. After many missteps, we settled on setting a budget amount for clothes for each one. We set the rules where the funds needed to cover a certain amount of clothes, so they each had to have seven pairs of pants, seven shirts, two pairs of shoes, etc. Beyond that, the decisions were theirs. We were amazed at what great shoppers they became. For the two boys who were somewhat obsessed about their looks as looking good for certain girls was a critical item, they pored over the sale fliers. They would return items to one store when they found they could get the same item at another store for less money.

When all the purchases were complete, they each had to show us the items to ensure we had sufficient quantities and then give the total. Any difference was theirs to keep. We also learned to compromise even on the quantities, which were based on the fact that we do laundry once a week. If they wanted to get by on fewer items, it was their responsibility to do the laundry. As they got older, we moved all their laundry responsibilities to them, which proved to be a great benefit when they went off to college and were the only ones in their dorms who knew how to wash clothes. This taught us a great lesson about balance and making choices. We can never have everything we want, but even with limited amounts of money, we still can strike a balance between having some of what we really, really want while still taking care of what we need.

Martha Cox is chief strategy and development officer of Jacksonville's Family Foundations, and her column runs every other Wednesday in the Times-Union. She can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..