Spending Habits of Teenagers

I’m sure there is some report somewhere that captures the spending habits of teenagers, but after setting up bank accounts and debit cards for our three teenagers early this year I had to look not farther than our online statements.

Now their accounts have only been open a little over four months so this will be far from a scientific study, but will shed some insight on what at least our teenagers are spending their money on this summer.

It’s a good chance for us to review their choices and help guide them. As I’m sure others reading this with teenagers understand that teenagers know everything and are very temperamental. They need to be handled gently at all times.  I kid, I kid, they know we mean well, they just don’t like to hear it.


The Gory Details

We have three teenagers, seventeen-year-old twins (boy-girl) and a fourteen-year-old son. Now it’s a bit early to break down the numbers, so I just give you the categories at a high-level. Here’s how their spending has broken down:

  • Twin Boy
    • Food
    • Video Games (Steam)
    • Entertainment
    • Gas
  • Fourteen-year-old son

Now our fourteen-year-old son had the benefit of celebrated a Birthday recently and having a stash of gift cards which allowed him to delay cash spending. I didn’t have a good way of tracking it, but needless to say in a little over six weeks his gift cards are gone.

The other expenses the twins will begin to incur is a $25 per week charge for car insurance, payable to the bank of mom and dad. As long as they are earning enough money from their part-time jobs to cover, which should not be an issue. It will be a real impact on our son’s income who started varsity football practice this week. His working hours have dropped off until after the season.

They are also responsibly for gas in their car and we will pay for maintenance of the vehicle. We feel this is a pretty good balance. They have shown responsibility with the car so far and have done a good job sharing it.

Going Forward

My wife and realize most of their money is being spent on food and entertainment related to socializing with their friends. We encourage them to make plans and spend time outside the house. It’s a fine line with a debit card in pocket and available cash in the bank.

We want them to make good choices. Do they always? No, they are teenagers, they are still learning. Having them use their debit cards leave a nice record of all of their purchases for us to review and gives us a great conversation starter with them.

We just want them to be aware of how often they are eating out, and to remember we have plenty of food at home. It’s a great time to review the trading your time for your money, and was the fast-food meal worth 1.5 hours of your time? It’s all about choice and I know no matter how much my wife and I try to teach them, they need to experience a little bit of it on their own.

What do your children spend their money on? Have you ever reviewed their purchases with them? Do teenagers really know everything?

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