The winner of last week’s book giveaway Tokens of Affection is commenter #1 Stefani.
I thought it might be interesting to some of you to hear how we work all the ‘extra’ expenses that teens tend to have. We have a moderate budget which allows us to supply all of our kids’ needs, but it doesn’t always allow us to fund the ‘wants’. So that’s where they come in. If they want something badly enough, they work for it. Here’s how it currently works at our house.
I will often buy kids some new clothes for Christmas. They also have a grandma who gives them new clothes at birthday time. At other times in the year I will grab them items at the thrift store or on sale as I find them and I see that they have need. When we go thrifting together, I will often tell them I’m game to buy them one item, and then they can buy whatever they find beyond that one item.
When it comes to shoes, the girls have so many, and get so many hand-me-downs that I don’t buy them much beyond what we occasionally find at the thrift store. In the photo you can see some thrift store shoe finds from a couple years ago. The boys wear out their shoes much faster than the girls, which I replace at the cost of up to $30. If they want to buy something that costs more, it’s up to them to pay the cost beyond that first $30.
We don’t really have a big entertainment budget these days, and our teens (like typical teens) have lots of wishes. In general if the activity is less than $5 or so, and we’re all going, we pay. If it’s more than $10 or so, and/or if it is something they’re doing on their own with friends, it’s their deal. Some examples: a couple of our teens have done judo at our local rec center, which they’ve paid for themselves, though I have several times paid for a month or bought them a judo gi as a Christmas or a birthday gift. We are willing to spring for dollar theater movies every few weeks. We also will pay for them to go to a couple other new-release (full price) movies during they year. When we went to the water park this year, the teens paid their own admission. But we had several half-price coupons, which made the cost a lot more reasonable. A few times our kids have done paint-ball, which they’ve paid for themselves. But we paid to take them all ice skating awhile back. This seems to work pretty well, and it also makes kids think about how badly they want to do any particular activity.
We have a minivan that has been our ‘teen’ car for years. We pay those expenses and the kids can drive that vehicle for free to necessary activities. Our daughter who currently uses the car most is doing a one-year dental assisting program at the community college this fall, and to assist her in that goal, we are letting her use the van for free, and will supply the gas. Once she gets out of school and gets a job she will be able to save and purchase a car for herself. We have also been driving our teen sons to their jobs this summer, which has allowed them to build up enough savings to buy cars of their own. Our teens typically don’t buy cars til they’re at least seniors in high school, but we currently have three 16 year old teens and one 18 year old. There just won’t be enough car to go around between all four of them. So it is actually a good thing that our boys are so eager to buy cars on their own. Once they have their licenses and their own vehicles (bought for cash– no loans allowed) they will be paying all auto expenses, as well as half the cost of insuring their vehicles. My dad has typically helped us out by fixing broken vehicles very affordably.
Some of the teens have taken college classes in high school, which they pay for themselves. They’ve also been helped out by a dual-credit scholarship that our local community college offers to high school students interested in taking college credits during high school. Once they are in college, they will continue to pay their own way. So far two of our kids have graduated from college with no debt. We are hoping it will work that way for the younger kids as well, and are encouraging them to apply for scholarships and keep grades up. Thanks to our large family, the kids do also tend to qualify for Pell grants.
Housing for College and Beyond:
Kids can live at home for free as long as they’re in college and are being responsible about their studies. Our current 18 year old is planning to stay home while she gets her one-year program done, but most of the other kids have opted for dorms and later apartments. We are willing to let kids stay home beyond college for a small amount of rent, but so far all the kids have been eager to get out on their own and live independently.
Sometimes I wish we had the finances to afford this or that special activity for the kids– I’m a momma, after all, and want to give good gifts to our kids. But then I have to remind myself of the good growth that is coming from this; the limits of our budget are teaching our kids a lot about their limits of their own budgets. I’m sure there will be budget stumbles for them along the way— we all have them. But I think that having to work and pay for some of their own wants from an early age will help them have more realistic ideas about budgeting as young adults.
What about you? If you have teens, do you pay for all their expenses, or do you encourage them to pay some of their own?
If you’re interested in reading more about teens and money, you might enjoy our $20 Grocery Experiment