Wednesday, October 12, 2011

How Teens Wreak Havoc Upon Your Budget

*This is the post where I ramble on about the etymology of teenagers and their affect on your emotions and your finances.

Consider the Teenager.
The precious child you gave birth to(or not) and you guided and parented successfully for 12 or so years.
Then your child embarks upon the journey through those hormone laden years, where their brains are taken over seemingly by alien forces, commonly known as the TEEN YEARS.

And you no longer hold sway over this child.

Instead they become peer controlled.  Paramount is what other teens, their "friends" say, think and do.  This herd of hormones is also heavily influenced by everything that parents do NOT like....Like popular culture.  Teens in their core want to become what their parents are not at this stage in their development.

This is nature's way of making sure that the child does indeed separate from the parent and grow into their own person.  But this stage of life is fraught with peril for the relationship between child and parent.  The teen's frontal lobe is not fully developed, which makes them say and do things that no person in their right mind would think of doing.....because they are NOT in their right mind.
Remember that the next time your teen opens their mouth and you have a "WTF?!?" moment.

By the time the teen graduates high school and moves out of your home, you, the parent are RELIEVED.  Relieved because your teen has made your relationship so fraught with difficulties that you are so ready for them to become a grownup and be responsible for their own life. You are also so ready for them to NOT be your financial responsibility.
This is why the jacked up car insurance rates for teens is a good thing in a twisted way.  Once you have to pay for their insurance for a couple of years(especially if they ARE bad drivers!), you have one more reason why they need to grow up and be independent!

And speaking of teens and money......nice segue, huh?......let's talk about how teens can wreak havoc upon your household budget.

Since they are becoming their own person, they so want to show to the world that they are an individual so they want to dress differently.
They want to wear black clothes, or skater clothes, trucker clothes or pimped out clothes, etc.  They want strange haircuts, to dye their hair day glow colors, get tattoos and piercings and wear make-up.
Anything and everything to stand out and look different from society.

But because teens are "pack driven animals" who want to fit in with the HERD and the fact that they are all trying desperately to Be Different, their efforts to Look Different just make them all look like each other.
Why don't Teens get the irony of this?lol

Anyway, this wanting to have their own style often translates into big money out of your budget.
While a few teens do figure out to be different from their peers and society merely takes learning to sew and buying secondhand from your local charity shop, most can't wrap their brain around this concept. If they do get the concept then they still might not do this because, well, it takes effort and most of them don't want to make an effort at almost anything.

Being different and cool means dropping large amounts of cash on what is being marketed to them by corporate America.....the designers and designs that are "in" and carried in those overpriced stores in malls across our country.
If it's got a label and the teens consider it 'cool', the companies can charge anything they want and the teens will still buy it(often using the parent's money because teens can't afford much of this stuff).

While 2 of my kids have not become this "led by the fashion nose" type of teen, #2 son has.
If he had his druthers he'd have a closet stuffed with high-end name brand clothes and I'd be on a street corner begging for change in a tin cup to pay the bills.
While his sister shopped at Salvation Army with glee and his older brother was happy with Walmart jeans, only the likes of Vans clothing will rest next to his skin.
Luckily for us, there is a Vans Outlet Store on the way to visit family and on occasion Kohl's & Penney's carries some of their line at discounted prices.  Even so, because of the cost(even on sale or clearance)#2 son has a very limited wardrobe(because I put him on a budget)and his clothes are washed more frequently(and because of this, he is responsible for doing his own laundry).
This is how I deal with his looking different and not breaking the budget.

As for the food budget, the teen has certain foods he "can't live without"...many of these may not be actual "food" but that's another post for another time.  And even though I attempt to stockpile so I never buy his food wants for full price, some of these foods are difficult to find a deal on.
One such item is Nutella.

Nutella to #2 son is it's own food group.
Seriously.  Addicted.  This boy.
It hardly EVER goes on sale and coupons for it come around once in a blue moon.

I was thrilled on Sunday, when I traipsed up to BIG LOTS for their "One Day Only 20% off everything in the store Sale" and saw jars of Nutella on the shelves.
Nutella for $3.00.
$3 is an ok price for this area.  Even with the 20% off, or $2.40 a jar on Sunday it was better but it wasn't what I'd call a deal.
But sitting on a display aisle in Big Lots of imported from Italy foods was this.....

Yes, it's the Italian version of Nutella.
Same ingredients, same size jar and 50¢ cheaper.  Take off the 20% discount and it was $2.00 a jar.
Do I really have to mention that I stocked up?lol

Since my brain is always working, I have already considered what to do if #2 son balks at eating this Nutella imposter.

First I will play up that it's imported.....from Italy!
If he's like most Americans, I'll be able to convince him that since it's European that it has to be Better than what he's been eating, right?lol

If that tact doesn't work, I'll wash out an old Nutella jar and dump this Italian version into it.  If his eyes see the familiar label, his tastebuds won't know any different.

Another way the Teen will wreak havoc on your food budget is due to their lack of self-control.
I know, I know.....teens aren't alone in the not having any self-control arena, but most teens aren't capable of this trait due to the whole "not fully developed frontal lobe" issue.  Work with me here!

I've spoken before about how quickly soda disappears in this house due to #2 son's inability to limit his intake of the substance.

Well, I stocked up on 6 x 20-packs of Pepsi products this past weekend as part of doing the Pepsi Moments to Save Cat Deal at Weis.
I gave 1 20 pack to Daughter to take back to college Sunday.
That left 3 packs of Mountain Dew(#2 son's favorite soda), 1 pack of Dr. Pepper and 1 pack of actual Pepsi.
2 of the Mountain Dew packs came into the house on Thursday evening.
By Monday morning, here is what one of them looked like....

Completely empty.

Ok, so #2 son had a friend sleep over on Sunday since there was no school on Monday.
He drank 20 sodas in the span of 3.5 days!!
Even with the sleepover friend who might have had 3 of them, that's 17 sodas.
If you take away time for sleeping and time in class and having band practice after school & a football game on Friday and sleeping over someone else's house on Friday night, that leaves 45 hours he was here and awake.
Meaning he had a soda an average of every 2.65 hours while home and awake.

This is why I am forced to hide the rest of the soda in my closet and dole it out like a methadone clinic does to those addicted to opioids.

And if anyone tells him where I've hidden the soda I will personally drive him over to your house and let him eat you out of house and home. ;-)

So tell us what your teen(s) can't live without in the way of clothing and food?
And how do you deal with keeping them AND your budget happy?



  1. Great post, I can totally relate! My 14yo LOVES soda & chips too. We had neither in the house this weekend, so he went to Price Chopper w/my husband & bought his own 12 pk of PC black cherry cola & a big Family size bag of Ruffles - with his OWN $ :) BTW, I'd dump that Italian stuff in the Nutella jar - you know he's going to say it tastes different.

  2. Sheila--Great thinking! I'm about at the "buy it with your own money" stage with my teen but his money is MY money since he doesn't have a Maybe when he turns 16 and/or gets a job....

    I figure I'll try the "Italian made is better" tact first since it saves me time having to do

  3. If we fix your son up with my youngest daughter we could go broke together. Although now that she has a clothes budget Goodwill looks better to her.

    But um see...THAT IS MY FAVORITE FOOD GROUP...but I have eaten the generic nutella if I have to.

    Great post


  4. Our youngest is a trial. She went to college and intermediately got her upper lip pierced, something strictly forbidden by our religion and family and my good taste! Well when it was time to pay the rent, I did not help her. I have always told my kids not to sh** where they eat. She has to take it out when she is with me. You have to love being a parent!

  5. Judy--No, if we fixed our youngest ones up together we would have to disown

    Seems Nutella is a lot of peoples favorite food group!

    Out My Window--My oldest went and did 3 crazy things once he got to college....and it took him a whole week to do them all!lol I try to pick my battles with them and let most of it roll off my back...but it's so HARD! ;-)

  6. Sluggy, on the upside, teens DO grow up. I promise. I have 3 to prove that. It takes a while, but they do, eventually.


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