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The Cost of Raising a Teenager

This article was written by in Family and Life. 6 comments.


USA Today’s reporter, Kathy Chu, talked to some typical parents to get a feel for how much they spend indulging their children. Here’s a statistic from the U.S. Department of Agriculture of all places, quoted in the article:

Last year, a middle-income family spent an average of $190,980 to feed, house, clothe and entertain a child from birth until age 18, with the preteen and teenage years taking the heaviest toll…

At an average of $10,610 each year per child, parents often have to choose between funding their own retirement and their own children. How do you find that balance?

You want your child to be well-rounded and to have the opportunity to discover his or her talents, so you want to provide summer activity camps, music lessons, sports participation, class trips, and college-level summer courses. Children feel they have needs spurred by society like a hot car, tech gadgets, and extravagant parties (remember Marissa and her sweet sixteen party?). All of this comes at the expense of funding that child’s higher or private education and your own needs.

teenager.jpgThe article offers some actions you can take to minimize teenager-related expenses.

  • Look into scholarships. Those expensive extra-curricular activities can turn into acceptance advantages and scholarships for colleges.
  • Early financial education. It’s important for teenagers to understand the use and value of money. Some parents want their children to get a job (or jobs) to help teach them. I’d rather see my children volunteering their time with an organization they like or fostering talents and skills. This falls into the “some things are more important than money” category.
  • Budget. Being open about your finances with your children helps them understand the choices you need to make. Perhaps when they see the numbers, they won’t feel it’s necessary to ask you for money for the latest tech toy.
  • Give allowances. How much should you give? The article suggests $1 per week for each year of their age. A sixteen-year-old would receive $16 each week. Don’t cave in when he or she asks for more.
  • Manage expectations. Parents should be clear what will be covered by them and what won’t be. The parents may be willing to pay for equipment for sports and music, but not for cell phones or parties.

On the one hand, I’m looking forward to having children. On the other, I’m dreading it until I’m sure that my income will keep growing.

Updated September 18, 2011 and originally published May 15, 2006. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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About the author

Luke Landes is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about Luke Landes and follow him on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar J.D. @ Get Rich Slowly

Heh. I have an entry in the works on the same article. Maybe I should just abandon it and link back to yours…

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avatar Financial Samurai

Very cool you got this linked to the Yahoo 10 ways to save money tips Flexo!

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avatar kevin

you must be rich. 10,610 a year for one child? I don’t think so. if you know where to shop for groceries, clothing, ect it doesn’t even cost half that. I can take $400 a month to aldi to feed a family of 5. 1 teenage boy, 1 teenage girl, 1 4 year old boy, myself and my wife for the entire month and that is 3 meals a day. they only need cloths twice a year and not $50 jeans or $150 shoes this isn’t a household of fashion. for clothing I have one word WALMART. for shoes shopping anywhere will do with a $40 limit on the shoes. shoes you need twice a year maybe 4 tops if they are really hard on shoes. the problem with people and households today is that they are worried about what others will think if they are seen at walmart or aldi friends may view you as being poor. so what if you are or not? I have a middle class household but that doesn’t mean I should be spending over $10,000 per child per year. you ready for this? This is per child per year with strict rules such as no lights on during the daylight hours and at night, shut of lights as you leave the room. Recycle everything you can garbage is $20 a month for 5 of us making $4 per person per month. only run water when absolutely needed. $50 a month for water making $10 per person. so here it is. my children are 14, 12, 4.
1 child per month

Groceries = $90
Clothing = $20
electricity = $8
water = $10
gas = $5
Garbage = $4
school supplies = $30
mortgage/rent = you pay with or without kids doesn’t count.
medical/dental insurance = $100

total monthly cost of 1 child per month (30 days) = $267 which makes $3248.50 per child per year. even if I was to include activities for the kids that cost money such as movies, chucky cheese’s, the fair, xmas and birthdays it still wouldn’t come near 10,000. maybe 6,000 tops. budget better, hunt/fish for meat, have a garden for fruits & veggies save some $ and only spend it on American products. ever wonder why our economy is so bad right now? think about it.

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avatar Heath

What does a hunting and fishing license cost? What if they want to play sports and other activities that cost money? You can save all the money you want on food and clothes at walmart but thats not all that cost money. Do you keep your kids locked in the house and only let them go to school and the movies, chucky cheese’s, the fair, and buy them gifts? No, kids want to do more today then we ever did. Do your kids have a phone or computer? That cost money idiot.

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avatar Aella

of course the rent counts, genius, unless your kids sleep on the street.

if you didnt have the kids, then your house/apartment would be smaller, and therefore you would pay less. So it counts.

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avatar Jen

Ok, please tell me where you buy your clothing for your kids, because $20.00 a month on clothing is even impossible if you are going to a second hand store! Wow! You must also be feeding your kids garbage! I feed my family natural home cooked meals and I buy whole foods, not your processed convenience crap. Your full of yourself or completely delusional if you think you can pass that off. I’m guessing that you don’t even carry dental or medical, because your numbers are so delusional. If you are truly providing for your children, as you say, you would know that even $10,000.00 a year is the bottom of the barrel. As for you rent, sorry, but it does matter in your household and IS considered in the cost for your family. I assume you never give you children a ride either??? LOL! You really are out of your league.

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