Use this list of teenage expenses to help you and your teen figure out who is paying for what, and to help them make a budget.
Let’s be honest here and say that a teen’s expenses are dependent on both:
- the teenager (their wants, and what they can afford)
- the parents (the money responsibilities they expect a teen to pay for, and what they will allow a teen to buy with their money)
Because of this, every single household is going to have a different list of teenage expenses.
Some households will shift a cell phone bill responsibility onto a teenager, while others will keep paying the cell phone bill because they want to have 100% control over its use.
Some teens will desperately love getting their nails done on a consistent basis, so will add that to their “expense” list. While other teens will spend lots of money on snacks, so will need an extra-large-sized category for food spending.
There are literally limitless variations for teenage expense lists.
Which is why I’m offering you first, some guidance (in the form of things to think about), and second, a long list of possible teenager expenses.
Finally, we’ll talk about some teenage spending habits so that you can get an idea of what real teens are spending their money on.
First up, why is it important for you and your teen to come up with a list of teenage expenses?
Why a List of Teenage Expenses?
We all know that budgeting and learning how to budget as a teenager (and then as an adult) is an important money life skill for your child to have.
But…how are they supposed to use a teen budget worksheet and learn teen money management if they’re not sure about:
- What’s expected of them (money responsibilities to pay for)
- What they typically spend money on
- What they might need to spend money on over the next weeks
By listing out teenage expenses, and sitting down with your teen to get clear on what is required of them, and what they’re allowed to spend money on, you’ll be helping your teenager with their budgeting skills.
Why else should a teen figure out their expenses?
Well, it helps them to plan. And when you get a teen planning with their money, then you’re really:
- teaching them how to do things like make savings goals (41 things to save up for as a teenager and how to save money as a teen)
- motivating them to earn more money (if they can’t get the things they want, when they want them, etc.) through a job app for teens or by getting their first teen job
- helping them to figure out how to spend less money as a teenager (if they're overspending)
- and much more.
Alright, let’s dive into the list of common teen expenses.
Psst: you might want to check out these 3 sample budgets for 18-year-olds.
58 Common Teenage Expenses
Remember that “common” doesn’t mean it needs to be the norm in your own household.
Instead, I’m offering this list of teenager monthly expenses as a jumping-off point for money conversations to have with your teen, and help with them setting up their budget.
Pssst: does your teen have their first job? Here are 7 money conversations to have after your teen earns their first paycheck.
Also, you may notice that some of these items border on needs.
Remember that money responsibilities and money boundaries shift as a kid ages.
As a child ages and is more capable, it’s a good idea to put them in charge of some of their own expenses (even if that means giving them control over the money you would spend on them in a certain category – such as school clothing – so that they can learn to manage and budget money).
Until one day, they turn into adults and they’re 100% responsible for themselves (read lots more in how to teach your teenager financial responsibility).
Here's that list:
- Charity donation
- Car insurance
- Data plan/data overages
- Money penalties (parking ticket, late library fee, speeding ticket, etc.)
- Items they break or lose
- Cell phone
- Cell phone data plan
- Pet accessories
- Dance classes
- Christmas presents for siblings
- Facial wash/Personal Toiletries
- Movies/Bowling/Weekend entertainment with Friends
- Date night expenses
- iTunes charges
- Stationary supplies
- Bedroom accessories
- Eating away from home
- In-app purchases
- College application fees
- Video games
- Extra sports stuff
- Mall money
- Convenience store snacks
- School trip expenses
- Driver license expenses
- Driving Course
- Starbucks drinks
- School dance tickets
- Horse care
- Xbox and PS4 Account
- In-App purchases
- Gym membership
- Concert tickets
- Event tickets
- Amazon purchases
- Brand name shoes (Nike, Vans, etc.)
- Clothes (American Eagle, Forever 21, etc.)
- Streaming service (Netflix, Hulu, etc.)
- Activewear (Nike, Under Armour, etc.)
- Spring break trip
- Job interview outfit
- Job uniform
- Instrument upkeep (restring a guitar, tuning, etc.)
- Parts to build a computer
- Summer camp
- Prom costs (here's a prom budget template)
- Salon services (hair, nails, etc.)
- Oil changes
- Art supplies
Now that we’ve gone through this list, let’s look at what makes these items “common”.
Meaning…what exactly are real teenagers spending their money on?
Teenage Spending Habits
Do you remember your own teenage spending habits? I do.
I used to spend my money on:
- gas for my car
- dance tickets for school dances (homecoming dance, winter formal, prom, etc.)
- dance/prom gowns
- occasional candy bars from the convenience store
- the movies with friends
- saving up for various savings goals (like saving up and buying my first car)
- senior week beach house in Delaware
- food court money for the mall
- nice razor and shaving cream set
Turns out, my purchases aren’t that out-of-character for teens today, either.
According to the Piper Sandler survey of 9,800 teens (average age is 15.8 years), the following are the most common spending habits teens have:
- Clothing (average spending $507/year)
- Video Games
- Personal care/beauty
I hope you can take this information and sit down with your teen to gain clarity on which teenage expenses they're responsible for, and which you'll cover or partway help them with. They'll get more and more comfortable with things like fixed costs and recurring costs by being responsible for some of their own expenses, which will only help them as they become young adults.
Amanda L. Grossman
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