Friday, February 6, 2009

Being Frugal With Teenagers

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.


  1. Hi! Thanks for commenting on my site: And, YES, we have a lot in common! We are raising four teens (well...17,15,13,and 11). It is VERY hard to be frugal when they want to go and do,do,do...the kids are off this whole week for winter break and I have been making homemade breakfasts all week to keep the grocery bill down. However, last night, the girls had friends sleep over, so I promised them I would go to the bagel shop and bring home a bag of bagels. I may not be able to be as frugal as some with small children who don't know a difference, but at least if we are AWARE of the budget, we are already better off than if we were going out to lunch all the time, and movies every afternoon. I am glad you are a mom of teens and older than 21! It feels good to have some company in the raising teens area while at the same time motivating eachother to become DEBT FREE!! Good Luck to you too!!


  2. You are so many blogs have tons of stuff with young families. I applaud them for being frugal early on but I'd like to see things that uh....we more "mature" moms have to offer. I do learn from the young ones but there's now way our food budget will look anything like theirs. We have 2 teen boys, one grown boy and two little boys still to feed and clothe.

    I look forward to many more posts!

    Mavis D