Kids And Finances

Teens And Money: What Should Teenagers Pay for?


teaching teens about finances, teens and finances, teens and money

Teaching teenagers about personal finances includes requiring them to pay for some things on their own. As a parent, part of me would like to pay for everything my son needs, allowing him to use his own funds to have as much fun as possible before taking on the responsibilities of an adult. But a bigger part of me knows that I need to find a balance between requiring him to use the income stream from his part time job to pay for his financial responsibilities, and continuing to provide the support of a parent.

My son is 18, and will graduate from high school in a few months. While this list has changed several times even in the last few months, here’s some things we continue to provide for him as well as some things he must pay for himself:

Things We Provide

  • Food : We buy groceries each week for meals as well as snacks. I commonly will ask my son if he has anything in particular he’d like to put on the list before I go grocery shopping.
  • Clothes : We give him a set amount of money that he is to use to go clothes shopping. We do this a couple times a year with the changing of the season.
  • School Fees: His education is important, and it’s our responsibility to ensure he gets the most out of his high school experience. We pay for any class fees for materials or field trips.
  • Haircuts : This is viewed as a life essential, but truthfully it would be the next thing to be moved over to the list of things our son would pay for out of his own pocket.
  • Medical Costs : He’s under our insurance, and health care is definitely a life essential. Plus, he likely wouldn’t be able to afford it.

Things Our Teenager Must Pay For

  • Food : He has food available a home, but if he goes out with his friends, or wants to buy food when on break at work he’s on his own.
  • Clothes: We put basic clothes on his back, but if he wants an extra pair of shoes, or sees a cool shirt online that he wants then he has to fork over his own cash.
  • Spending Money : If he wants to go to a movie or skiing, or any other activity with his friends, it comes out of his own paycheck.
  • Car Insurance : An extra driver in the family means higher insurance. He’s expected to pay for the privilege of being able to drive.
  • Gas: If he’s going to drive, he has to pay to make it go.
  • Oil Changes : As he just bought his own car, we just moved this to the list of his responsibilities. This does open the door to a whole different conversation regarding car maintenance costs that quite frankly we figured out exactly where that line is yet.

It’s a challenge to find a balance between providing the essentials for my son, and teaching him financial responsibility. This is by no means a complete list, and even as the list has changed over time, it may be different depending upon the child. But it is essential to have teenagers learn that you don’t get to keep every cent that you earn, and to start getting an idea as to how much things cost in day to day life.

What do you think, Clever Friends? What do you have your teenager pay for? What did you have to pay for as a teenager?

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Brought to you courtesy of Brock

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About the author

Brock Kernin


  • Interesting article, it really takes me back to when I was a teenager!

    My parents provided me with everything you already mentioned. Food, basic clothing, education. However, I distinctly remember the time cell phones became “a thing”. Everyone in my class had one, but me!

    My parents explained they can afford the basics, but there was no way in hell they would buy me a cell phone I didn’t even need!

    I was taught a good lesson back then: for the luxuries I could very well live without, I’d have to pay myself!

    I’m actually glad they refused to spoil me with ‘stuff’. Many of my classmates got new cars when they turned 18… God only knows how they would have reacted if I thought I ‘deserved’ one too 😀

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