Do Teen-agers Have To Be So Expensive?
By Jonni McCoy

There is no doubt about it - teen-agers are expensive. But there are some ways to make a dent into how expensive they are. Let's take clothes first. What seems to work the best for our family is to give the teen what you have allotted for their clothing budget. It should be enough to cover them with normal clothes (not stylish or brand name) that you could buy on sale at the department stores. If they want to spend more than that amount on stylish or name-brand clothes, then they will have to make up the difference with their own money. This has been tried and works well. They make mistakes at first, like blowing the entire wad on one jacket. But after a few months of wearing the same clothes, they learn from it. These are the years where they have to learn to make choices with their money and should not expect to have everything that they want.

As for the car insurance, make sure to investigate the discounts that are available to you (good-student, multi-policy, etc.) Make sure you are getting other discounts on your own coverage to reduce the overall cost (non-smoker, middle-age, anti-theft-devices, low mileage, etc.). We have also found it cheaper to keep them on our policy than to have them on their own policy. Ask your insurance agent for suggestions as well. You should also shop around for quotes from different insurance carriers. Insurance rates very considerably between companies. Just make sure that the company is reputable - cheapest is not always the best. To check a company's rating, visit

I recommend that you make them be responsible for their own insurance. If they still cannot afford the insurance, then perhaps they shouldn't have the privilege to drive.

Your last area of concern was food. Snacks are what eat up a family's budget, whether it's because of teens or not. Snacks are handy and usually taste better than "staple" food. So we need to be careful in this area. If the family had a choice, they would make snacks their meals. At our house, we budget for a certain amount of store-bought snacks, and if they eat them all in one day, that's their loss. The snacks don't get replenished until the next week's shopping. But they won't starve, because we have a supply of homemade snacks on hand: banana bread, cookies, muffins, popcorn, etc. Homemade snacks cost a fraction of the cost of store-bought. We cook them in bulk and keep them on hand. I even taught my teenage son how to cook his favorites so he can feed himself. :-)

This article copyrighted by Jonni McCoy 2006,

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