6 Things You Need to Budget for When You Have Teens

From the time our kids are born, parents have a long list of things to budget for. Groceries and diapers only scratch the surface of it. As they grow, add to the list strollers, toys, clothing, shoes, haircuts, school supplies, field trips, and anything else our kids might need to keep up with their peers. We have a lot to consider with school-age children, and the budget seems only to stretch as they become teens. We want to give our kids everything we can, but let’s face it, the teenage years are expensive. According to a report by the USDA, parents who have a child today will spend, on average, $284,500 by the time the child turns 18, with annual costs rising steeply. So, the best advice is to start saving while they’re young. But even if your kids are already on the cusp of teendom, it’s not too late to plan. Here are 6 things you need to budget for when you have teens.

budget for when you have teens, girls and boys eating pizza at home

#1 | Food

If you already have children, you know they eat a lot. So, it comes as no surprise that this is one of the largest costs of raising a child. If you had one dollar for every time your kid said, “I’m hungry,” you could probably mitigate most of your annual food expenditures. The USDA reports that families spend about $310 to $320 per month feeding a teen son. The average monthly grocery costs for a teen daughter are $255. Bear in mind that these numbers do not include dining out with friends or family at a restaurant.

To Offset: Consider buying food in bulk, especially if you have more than one teen to feed, and in many cases, all their friends too. Places like Sam’s Club or Costco are ideal! But you can also find food and snacks in bulk at Walmart, Target, and more!

budget for when you have teens, two African American girls, friends window shopping at a mall

#2 | Clothing

While boys are more expensive to feed, girls tend to be more expensive to clothe. Teenagers, according to a study done by Teenage Research Unlimited and published by the National Consumer League, spend $104 a week on clothing. This adds up to a yearly total of $5,408 per child. According to a 2016 Piper Jaffray report, teen spending habits include using 38 percent of their own money on clothing. Music, movies and video games are also ranked high as things teens spend their money on.

To Offset: Consider having a set amount of money allocated each month for clothing and use it as a way to teach your teen about budgeting. Plus, it never hurt any teenager to get a part-time job so they can start learning about managing money, while they save up for the stuff they want.

budget for when you have teens, African American girl doing homework with headphones and a laptop

#3 | Education

Grade Power Learning estimates that the out-of-pocket education cost for children attending public school from K through grade 12 is roughly $162,899, including extra-curricular activities. For kids in private schools, parents spend an average total of $292,719 per child. Both costs do not include tutoring or SAT prep courses. The amount rises dramatically when pursuing a four-year college degree. Investopedia reports the average cost for teens attending college in their home state is $20,000 per year. If your child chooses an out-of-state school, the cost jumps to $65,000 per year, not including food, entertainment and travel costs for coming home.

To Offset: Registered Educational Savings Plans (REPS) are a good way to save for your teen’s college. You can open an RESP at any time, and grandparents or other family members can contribute.

budget for when you have teens, two girlfriends taking a selfie outdoors making silly faces

#4 | Technology

It’s no big secret to parents that smartphones are an extension of our children’s arms. They’re expected to use computers both in and out of the classroom to make the grade. Kids also manage their social lives through various apps and social media platforms. They use technology to stay organized and stay on top of their many, many activities. The USDA estimates the average cost of smartphones to be $50–$75 per month, per child. Laptops are an additional $500–$2,000 every 3 to 5 years.

To Offset: Look for family plans and bundles, as well as second-hand devices, to lower costs. High-end used laptops, with a warranty, are also available through reputable resellers. Check places like eBay, Best Buy, Amazon, Walmart, and Overstock for refurbished laptops. Buying a damage or loss insurance policy for their devices may also be a good investment.

budget for when you have teens, teen girl at the orthodontist smiling with braces

#5 | Healthcare

This category can be hefty, depending on your teen’s needs. Healthcare costs include everything from sports physicals to therapy to nutritionists to unexpected illnesses. Most major costs are covered by health insurance plans, but you should budget $90 per visit for deductibles or health practitioners not covered. Dental visits average $150 per check-up and cleaning (not including cavities). Braces will run you anywhere from $2,500 to $7,000 per child. Prescription glasses are $300 to $700 per pair while contact lenses can cost $400 to $800 per year.

To Offset: If you have a workplace or other group health plan covering some or all of these costs, you’re in luck. Another option growing in popularity is Membership or Association Health Plans. Learn more about them here.

budget for when you have teens, mother teaching daughter how to drive

#6 | Transportation

While your gas bills will go up when you have a teen, the biggest expenditure in this category is the increased cost of car insurance. According to Quote Wizard by Lending Tree, teens can cost an average of $397 a month for an individual car insurance policy. In most cases, it’s cheaper for parents to add a teenage driver to their policy. This adds, on average, an extra $187 per month to your insurance payments.

To Offset: Carpooling and ridesharing are smart options if you can coordinate it. My kids have also shared the cost of Uber rides with groups of friends (I won’t let them Uber alone).

Do you have some helpful tips on budgeting for your teens? Please share in the comments below! Check out this post with 5 things your kids need to know about debt and money!

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