Most of the blogs I run across about frugality seem to be written by younger wives (I guess they have more energy to multitask than us old fogeys), and there is a dearth of blogs by mothers of teens. Or at least I haven't found them. It definitely is a bigger challenge to become more frugal and change habits when your children are older. For one thing, my children do the bulk of the work around here, since I home school them and also work 20-30 hours a week. So it's a lot to ask them to take on the extra work that frugality requires, when they are already very busy with school and activities.
And speaking of activities, the bald truth is that the cost of activities grows as the child grows. Since we have always lived a somewhat frugal lifestyle, our children are used to paying their own way with activities. All our children are fortunate to have been able to pursue their passions either by working or by gifts from their grandparents. They know that anything extra is not really possible right now and they don't ask. I cannot imagine the shock that teenagers in today's economy are facing as they have to either give up expensive pasttimes or find a way to bankroll them when the Mom and Dad Savings and Loan has to shut its doors.
Clothing for teenagers can also be more difficult to acquire frugally. Hand-me-downs tend to run out when the child reaches adult size, as four of my children have. More current styles can be hard to come by in thrift stores, especially in our smaller town. Again, I am fortunate that my children usually buy their own clothes if I don't have the money for a thrift store run. My oldest teenaged daughter has two friends that are real clotheshorses. She loves fashion, too, but sticks to thrift stores and Walmart when it's her own money.
It probably helps that we have been "oddballs" all their lives. We used to live in rural Montana, in a county the size of New Jersey, and we were the only homeschoolers in the entire county! We drove 75 miles to a neighboring state to go to a support group. In our small church we were considered "liberals" and were left somewhat alone. We were organic farmers and ate organically way before it was mainstream. We spent a lot of time at home with no TV and basically no friends, so the outside influences on our children were minimal. So we got to totally brainwash them and it was great.
Now we live near the big city (50,000 whole people!) and my children have lots of friends and lots of activities. We have a wonderful, big church. Life is lots more expensive. But so far my children are handling my new, more radical frugal ideas.....well, the jury is still out on the cloth "family wipes" (love that phrase). I'll give it a month or so and let you know.
Moms of teens, do you have experiences to share about trying to become more frugal? Please share! I need all the help I can get.