Author Topic: How do you handle the never ending teenager expenses?  (Read 12899 times)

Juslookin

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How do you handle the never ending teenager expenses?
« on: October 07, 2015, 06:03:30 AM »
I have two, a DS, 17 year old HS senior and DD, 15 year old HS sophmore. They are good kids, good grades, not trouble makers, don't ask for a lot. 

I can not seem to get a handle on the avalanche of never ending high school expenses. Of course every day is a different fundraiser. I trained my kids on this early though, they don't even bring them home. It's absolutely ridiculous for me to buy a $5.00 pepperoni roll for them to earn $2.00 for a field trip. I'll just pay for the field trip.

But there are also high school expenses I didn't recall. This week alone it was class ring ordering time for the sophmore $366., senior portrait deposit for the senior. Two application fees for college and I am staring down the barrel of the homecoming dance that both kids want to attend. The dance entails tickets and clothing.

I think my only option is to suck it up. DS works on the weekends already and is banking his income so that he has spending money in college. DH doesn't want him working during the week and DD is too young to get a work permit. She has tried the babysitting route but we live pretty rural and we just can't scare up any customers for her.

We can afford the expenses it's just frustrating to me that I don't always see these things as the best way to spend our money. Senior portraits when I was in HS was the photographer came to the school and we all wore what they supplied. Now it's a professional photographer you hire, doing photos of your kid sitting casually on a log in the woods at peak leaf time. Cost averages $1,000.

I did spend a couple of hours doing research and I have found a nice photographer who will do the whole shebang for $350. But the $1,000 photographer is who a lot of folks are using, even those kids receiving free or reduced lunch. I just can't believe it!

So my question is, how did you handle these expenses? Did you simply refuse to participate or did you just suck it up and pray for graduation?
« Last Edit: October 07, 2015, 06:06:10 AM by Juslookin »

boarder42

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Re: How do you handle the never ending teenager expenses?
« Reply #1 on: October 07, 2015, 06:07:57 AM »
everyone has a DSLR now, you can shop around and find some really reasonable deals from people starting out.  my wife just charged a couple friends 100 bucks to do baby pics .... shop around find someone new and cheap for pictures. 

Pigeon

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Re: How do you handle the never ending teenager expenses?
« Reply #2 on: October 07, 2015, 06:20:25 AM »
I don't want my kids having any major work commitments during the school year, and consider those expenses to be mine, not theirs. 

My oldest is now a freshman in college.  Last year, everyone had to go have their senior photo taken by a certain photographer.  One image was used for the yearbook, and there were various expensive packages you could buy.  Honestly, the photos weren't great.  All the girls had to wear one of those black velvet drapes, and she hated it.  We didn't buy a package as she didn't want one. 

We do have their photos taken professionally every year or two.  I get a groupon for JCP portrait studio for around $20 that gives us three digital images and a print.  They always come out great.  I don't worry about what other people in other financial situations do about the photos as it's not my business.

She also didn't want a class ring.  I offered, but she declined.

There were a few additional expenses to being a senior.  I did throw her a graduation party.  It was at home, but she wanted to rent one of those bouncy house things.  I thought that was silly for high school aged kids, but they all used the thing non-stop, so I ended up thinking it was a good idea.  I also shelled out for good food and a badminton set.   She ended up going to two proms (hers and her boyfriend's), but kept the costs reasonable.  She got new dresses ($79 and $29) but no limos, salons, etc.  She's a great kid, no drugs, no drinking, good grades, and I don't mind paying a little more for a few frivolous things. 

We are generally much more frugal than the parents of most of my kids' friends.  I could have not paid for anything, but I don't want to be a total scrooge.

BPA

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Re: How do you handle the never ending teenager expenses?
« Reply #3 on: October 07, 2015, 06:21:08 AM »
Separate out wants from needs.

A college application is a need.  A school ring is not.

It doesn't bother my son at all that he didn't get grade 8 grad photos like the rest of his classmates.  That is ridiculous.  He's in grade 12 now and I have told him that I will pay for these grad photos as a grad present even though it is a want and not a need.  They won't cost $1k though.  That is nuts. 

People seem to appreciate things more when they aren't handed their every whim. 

BPA

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Re: How do you handle the never ending teenager expenses?
« Reply #4 on: October 07, 2015, 06:35:37 AM »
This is an excellent MMM post about the issue:  http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2013/03/28/the-incomparable-advantage-of-having-to-work-for-what-you-get/

I have to echo what he says here.  I teach high school and while I love this generation for their kindness and open-mindedness, many of them are rather spoiled and coddled. 

My own son has special needs and can only reasonably work in the summer, not during the school year or his grades suffer.  I'm always trying to make sure that he's not spoiled by my doing too much for him.  I want him to be resilient.  So, I provide the necessities and his work in the summer provides for wants. 


I'm a red panda

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Re: How do you handle the never ending teenager expenses?
« Reply #5 on: October 07, 2015, 06:57:33 AM »
Separate out wants from needs.


Yep.  I didn't get the senior portraits from the "it" photographer (who was known for mostly doing nudes- no idea how he became the go-to senior photographer, except he let you take pictures standing on top of his corvette) and went with a much less expensive one; like 1/20th the cost. I didn't get the class ring because I saw how silly it was to pay so much money for something I'd never wear again.  These were my choices, not my parents- but as a frugal parent, you can help guide your son to see these decisions make better sense.

Could you possibly resort to a bit of bribery?  Senior portraits from photographer X OR senior photos from Y, and something he actually wants and cares about, but with a total cost of less than half as much for both?

asauer

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Re: How do you handle the never ending teenager expenses?
« Reply #6 on: October 07, 2015, 07:08:12 AM »
I was told as a high school junior and senior; "our budget for the year is X.  You decide how that $.  It was not enough for all that stuff so I had to pick and choose which things to get.  I chose prom, high school ring and some $ to augment my own earnings for a class trip.  I didn't go to homecoming, I didn't buy a portrait package, I made my own graduation announcements, I did a volunteer project on spring break and I funded my own Senior Skip Day.  I liked that approach- it gave me the choice but didn't run my parents into the ground.

stashing_it

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Re: How do you handle the never ending teenager expenses?
« Reply #7 on: October 07, 2015, 07:36:18 AM »
Simply do not buy the class ring.    He will not wear it longer than a year.  It will not be cool in college to wear your high school class ring

BeanCounter

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Re: How do you handle the never ending teenager expenses?
« Reply #8 on: October 07, 2015, 07:41:23 AM »
I was told as a high school junior and senior; "our budget for the year is X.  You decide how that $.  It was not enough for all that stuff so I had to pick and choose which things to get.  I chose prom, high school ring and some $ to augment my own earnings for a class trip.  I didn't go to homecoming, I didn't buy a portrait package, I made my own graduation announcements, I did a volunteer project on spring break and I funded my own Senior Skip Day.  I liked that approach- it gave me the choice but didn't run my parents into the ground.

This is basically what my parents did, throughout all of high school. They gave me a large weekly allowance (I think it was $50 a week) that was to cover lunches (or I could pack mine for free), clothing and social events or really anything else I wanted. I was taught to work in the summer and save some of that money to fund a difference in what they gave me and I wanted. I really wasn't allowed to ask for anything else.
 This is an excellent way to teach your kids to budget. I plan to do the same with mine.

Mr. Green

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Re: How do you handle the never ending teenager expenses?
« Reply #9 on: October 07, 2015, 07:53:33 AM »
Perhaps it's different depending on locale, but when I graduated in 2001 senior portraits for the school year book were done by the same company that does all the other pictures. They bring a faux shirt you put on and that's it. You can choose to buy them or not, just like every other year of school pix. The log pictures where something people did on their own. We did have those done but it was much less expensive than $350 and I think my mother wanted them more than anyone else. I would agree that, with the rise of DSLR cameras, it ought to be fairly easy to have a good quality picture taken for next to nothing.

A class ring or class jacket weren't even a possibility in my family. $300 wouldn't be spent on something that trivial. Personally, I'm glad I didn't buy a ring or jacket. Five to ten years after graduating that symbolic high school item isn't a highlight or your life anymore. It might not even take that long.

Juslookin

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Re: How do you handle the never ending teenager expenses?
« Reply #10 on: October 07, 2015, 07:58:08 AM »
You guys have given me some things to think about. I like the idea of giving them a set amount for the year. It honestly never occurred to me, I just didn't realize how much some of these things would cost.

I like Chippewa's plan of saving in an account a little at a time to release money for the future.
I'm going to start that immediately for both kids.  I'm going to sit down with DH and figure out an amount.

I have been doing the bargaining with DD, you can pick one thing but not all things, like homecoming, they all get professional hair, nails and makeup. I did them all last year, spent a fortune. I told her I would pay for one, she could pay for the others if they were important. I don't really give them allowance because I've always paid for things but I think it's time to institute allowance. If it's important to her she will spend her allowance on it.

Good ideas I have been too narrow minded to think of, any other thoughts?


Juslookin

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Re: How do you handle the never ending teenager expenses?
« Reply #11 on: October 07, 2015, 08:01:02 AM »
Perhaps it's different depending on locale, but when I graduated in 2001 senior portraits for the school year book were done by the same company that does all the other pictures. They bring a faux shirt you put on and that's it. You can choose to buy them or not, just like every other year of school pix. The log pictures where something people did on their own. We did have those done but it was much less expensive than $350 and I think my mother wanted them more than anyone else. I would agree that, with the rise of DSLR cameras, it ought to be fairly easy to have a good quality picture taken for next to nothing.

A class ring or class jacket weren't even a possibility in my family. $300 wouldn't be spent on something that trivial. Personally, I'm glad I didn't buy a ring or jacket. Five to ten years after graduating that symbolic high school item isn't a highlight or your life anymore. It might not even take that long.

This was exactly how my senior photos were handled in 1980 something :)

It is not how they are done here, now. That is not even an option, the school photographer doesn't even take pictures of the seniors, you are on your own.

FYI, class ring for the daughter, son skipped it, he knew he'd never wear it or use it.

Dee18

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Re: How do you handle the never ending teenager expenses?
« Reply #12 on: October 07, 2015, 08:11:35 AM »
I started much younger with my DD saying, "that's not something our family needs to do" and " when you grow up you will get to choose how to spend your money."  I also pointed out things our family did spend money on, mostly travel and other experiences including some camps, that other families did not do.  (We live in the midst of raging consumerism.) With the class ring, I told her to try to find three people who ever wore a high school ring after their first year of college....she could not find a single one. 

The key is you must be confident in saying no to things you believe are a waste if money.  As for hair and nails for a dance, I burst out laughing when she suggested that.  Also, my teen always said "everyone is..."  But I knew several families I admired and I would pointedly ask, " So if I call Lily's mom she is going to confirm she's paying for hair, nails, and makeup?"  Encourage your daughter to invite a couple friends over to do each other's hair, nails, and makeup.  Help her learn that making fun is way better than trying to buy it. 

acroy

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Re: How do you handle the never ending teenager expenses?
« Reply #13 on: October 07, 2015, 08:12:09 AM »
"How do you handle the never ending teenager expenses?"

The teenagers get J-O-Bs and pay for it themselves. Do them a favor; allow them to learn the value of hard work and money early on!
I do not (yet) have teen so my own, but have 6 and 9yr old who have started mowing lawns, watering plants etc for neighbors to make some $$. We have a system - they work, have to save so much, get to spend so much, etc.

hunniebun

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Re: How do you handle the never ending teenager expenses?
« Reply #14 on: October 07, 2015, 08:26:04 AM »
My kids are much younger yet I still struggle with the expenses. It is hard because you want them to have what 'everyone else' has, even though we know this is not logical...sometimes I even want/buy my kids things they don't even really care about, because I care!  But for me now, the expenses are not in the same magnitude.  My kids are motivated by money (even at a young age).  For the class ring, maybe offer to buy half if it is something they really want. If they choose not to, offer 50$ to their savings account?  For the photos...1K is just absurd and I would never consider paying this for photos...ever.  As other posters have suggested, there are many options for this.  The objective is mark the occasions with special photos, not pay for some photographers summer home!  Madness!!  I very much doubt that many parents are thrilled at paying this amount, so maybe be brave and start the trend by finding a lower cost option and maybe the other parents will be grateful and follow suit. If this is a school sponsored/recommended photographer, I would make a complaint to them about the unrealistic prices.    As for the dances and the outfits for them, I would suggest that they should foot the bill there.  The tickets likely aren't that expensive and either wear something old, or using your own money for something new.  At what age can dd get a part time job? I had one when I was 14, but I am sure it is different everywhere...but there are lots of other options for making money at that age, babysitting, dog walking, odd jobs for family/friends etc.  I might let her try that to get her used to the idea (if you aren't already).  I know it is a struggle but hopefully you can find some middle ground.  It doesn't have to be all or nothing :)

waffle

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Re: How do you handle the never ending teenager expenses?
« Reply #15 on: October 07, 2015, 08:29:13 AM »
It might have been a bit different for me than most since I grew up on a farm, but I don't get the concept of not wanting kids to have a decent work load during school. I went to school, came home and did farm work/home work and still found time to earn money on the side and have a healthy social life. I was near the top of my class and the work ethic/time management skills I learned growing up helped me to breeze through my undergrad with no debt and very little stress.

Do your kids a favor and teach them to work. Don't pile on adult worries and stress, but good honest work will build them up. Don't wait till they are adults to teach them character. If you buy them every optional thing that might pop up in school then you are just building them into consumer suckers, but if you let them do without some of those wants or have them find their own way to pay for it then you are building them into hard working mustachians who will remember those lessons and thank you later.

waffle

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Re: How do you handle the never ending teenager expenses?
« Reply #16 on: October 07, 2015, 08:31:46 AM »
Side note on the photos. My wedding photos which included a full day with the photographer following us around only cost about $800, so $1k for some senior pictures is plain laughable.

Lis

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Re: How do you handle the never ending teenager expenses?
« Reply #17 on: October 07, 2015, 08:36:21 AM »
Agree on the class ring - I wore mine for maybe two years in college then put it away. I will admit my college class ring is different - I still wear mine. But I also paid for that myself and would happily do so again.

$1,000 on pictures?? That just seems absurd. In my experience, the pictures were for the parents. None of my friends cared about the senior portraits (in high school or college), but my parents wanted that official picture. But I think taking the picture itself was free - my mom bought one large picture for cheapish and made her own copies (not legal, but she couldn't stand the rip off).


I'm a red panda

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Re: How do you handle the never ending teenager expenses?
« Reply #18 on: October 07, 2015, 08:39:11 AM »
Agree on the class ring - I wore mine for maybe two years in college then put it away. I will admit my college class ring is different - I still wear mine. But I also paid for that myself and would happily do so again.


Wow- that's two years more in college than anyone else I've ever heard of :)

As for college ring; at my university I often found people who thought the ring was more important than the degree! It was a HUGE deal. And I still wear mine 11 years later. And LOVE seeing the very old ones where they are worn smooth over 50+ years. It's an amazing tradition. Very different thing than a high school ring, IMO, but it depends on your school. My sister didn't even know college rings were a thing based on the environment at her school.  I do know people who didn't go to college, who got high school rings, but they don't wear their high school rings after HS.

Retire-Canada

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Re: How do you handle the never ending teenager expenses?
« Reply #19 on: October 07, 2015, 08:41:06 AM »

So my question is, how did you handle these expenses? Did you simply refuse to participate or did you just suck it up and pray for graduation?

I didn't spend a dollar on my graduation from high school. Unless that's the pinnacle of their academic achievement it's just not that big a deal. Certainly not worth $1000+ dollars.

The ring is stupid. So is a $1K photog.

Now if HS is as far as they are going and they worked hard to complete it I would spend some money on a celebration and get them the ring.

If they are going on to college nobody will care about HS is 4yrs.

What I would do:

- buy them a ticket to the dance and rent them a tux/dress as required
- spend $100-$200 on photos
- put the cost of the ring and the difference between your phtog and the $1K photog in an investment account for them

Years down the road when they need a deposit on a house point them to the investment account and let them know that would have not been there for them if they had a HS ring in a box somewhere gathering dust with a bunch of expensive photos that are not materially different than what they have.

Pigeon

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Re: How do you handle the never ending teenager expenses?
« Reply #20 on: October 07, 2015, 09:07:38 AM »
It might have been a bit different for me than most since I grew up on a farm, but I don't get the concept of not wanting kids to have a decent work load during school. I went to school, came home and did farm work/home work and still found time to earn money on the side and have a healthy social life. I was near the top of my class and the work ethic/time management skills I learned growing up helped me to breeze through my undergrad with no debt and very little stress.

Do your kids a favor and teach them to work. Don't pile on adult worries and stress, but good honest work will build them up. Don't wait till they are adults to teach them character. If you buy them every optional thing that might pop up in school then you are just building them into consumer suckers, but if you let them do without some of those wants or have them find their own way to pay for it then you are building them into hard working mustachians who will remember those lessons and thank you later.

Different strokes.

My parents didn't let us work in high school, other than casual things like babysitting.   We did get summer jobs. Oddly, it is possible to develop a perfectly good work ethic and character despite that.  My parents did teach me lots of lessons, frugality among them and I do thank they for all they did for me.  None of their six kids were doomed to failure and we are all pretty successful.

My kids work summers but I prefer they don't work during the school year and concentrate on their studies.  They carry a full class load, have no study halls, take AP classes and get a boatload of homework.  They are also very involved in extra curricular activities that are quite time-consuming, and they do some volunteer work.  They are doing lots of "good, honest work," it just happens to be school work and volunteer work.  They are also both pretty frugal.

They have decades ahead of them to be in the working world.  For now, I'm happy to have them be students.

Juslookin

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Re: How do you handle the never ending teenager expenses?
« Reply #21 on: October 07, 2015, 09:37:12 AM »
It might have been a bit different for me than most since I grew up on a farm, but I don't get the concept of not wanting kids to have a decent work load during school. I went to school, came home and did farm work/home work and still found time to earn money on the side and have a healthy social life. I was near the top of my class and the work ethic/time management skills I learned growing up helped me to breeze through my undergrad with no debt and very little stress.

Do your kids a favor and teach them to work. Don't pile on adult worries and stress, but good honest work will build them up. Don't wait till they are adults to teach them character. If you buy them every optional thing that might pop up in school then you are just building them into consumer suckers, but if you let them do without some of those wants or have them find their own way to pay for it then you are building them into hard working mustachians who will remember those lessons and thank you later.

Different strokes.

My parents didn't let us work in high school, other than casual things like babysitting.   We did get summer jobs. Oddly, it is possible to develop a perfectly good work ethic and character despite that.  My parents did teach me lots of lessons, frugality among them and I do thank they for all they did for me.  None of their six kids were doomed to failure and we are all pretty successful.

My kids work summers but I prefer they don't work during the school year and concentrate on their studies.  They carry a full class load, have no study halls, take AP classes and get a boatload of homework.  They are also very involved in extra curricular activities that are quite time-consuming, and they do some volunteer work.  They are doing lots of "good, honest work," it just happens to be school work and volunteer work.  They are also both pretty frugal.

They have decades ahead of them to be in the working world.  For now, I'm happy to have them be students.

Yes Pigeon, we have similar ideas about working. My son started working over the summer once he could get a work permit. Now that he's back in school we only allow him to work on the weekends, he enjoys it, he likes earning his own money.  He spends much of his other time either on extra curriculars such as spring track or keeping up with homework and helping around the house. My kids also carry AP courses and a full schedule and it's often a struggle to get it all done in a day. Grades come first. They are both going on to college and thanks to grades, DS already has been offered some real scholarship money to college.

Also to clarify, the girls do get their nails, hair and makeup done. I have spoken to other mothers, and if anyone is against it, nobody is speaking up. We are drawing a line though.

And the $1,000 photographer is so busy with our school, he's booked through the January 1 deadline to have the photos submitted to the yearbook. He is now turning down people.  I'm in the wrong business.

2Birds1Stone

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Re: How do you handle the never ending teenager expenses?
« Reply #22 on: October 07, 2015, 09:56:29 AM »
Stuff like dances, activities etc are important......$1000 for HS photo's? GTFO of here lol, same on a $365 piece of metal junk that they will NEVER wear past college.

FLBiker

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Re: How do you handle the never ending teenager expenses?
« Reply #23 on: October 07, 2015, 10:00:23 AM »
It's interesting to me to see how many folks are against kids working while in school.  I started working summers @ 15, and after school @ 16.  I loved it.  It never occurred to me to prevent my kid from doing this.

That said, I graduated HS in 94 and have heard that school has gotten more ridiculous in terms of HW, etc.  Furthermore, I totally approached HS as a game (highest grades for least work -- all honors, aimed for A-'s) and had lots of freetime.  I didn't do clubs or sports, either.

Thanks for getting me to think about this (tho w/ my daughter being 6 mos old, there's still a ways to go).

asauer

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Re: How do you handle the never ending teenager expenses?
« Reply #24 on: October 07, 2015, 10:13:20 AM »
It's interesting to me to see how many folks are against kids working while in school.  I started working summers @ 15, and after school @ 16.  I loved it.  It never occurred to me to prevent my kid from doing this.

That said, I graduated HS in 94 and have heard that school has gotten more ridiculous in terms of HW, etc.  Furthermore, I totally approached HS as a game (highest grades for least work -- all honors, aimed for A-'s) and had lots of freetime.  I didn't do clubs or sports, either.

Thanks for getting me to think about this (tho w/ my daughter being 6 mos old, there's still a ways to go).

Me too.  I started working 10-15 hrs per week when I was 14 and usually worked 20-30 hrs per week in the summers.  However, my parents didn't push me to do it.  I just did.  I can certainly see the POV of not wanting them to work but focus on school.

Tom Bri

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Re: How do you handle the never ending teenager expenses?
« Reply #25 on: October 07, 2015, 10:47:08 AM »
My daughter had her senior class photos taken by a fellow classmate who is a gifted photographer. She did pay him, but it was lot less than a pro would have charged. I think it was $100 or $150, and they looked great.
Prom dresses are often available free or very reduced cost. Since they are only worn once or twice, lots of shops will buy them back and resell them much reduced. In my town, a local church takes them and provides them free of charge. My daughters have used both methods, as have many of their friends, even the more wealthy ones. Neither girl has shown any interest in class rings, but maybe that is because they know we are cheap bastards. If one of them really wanted one, I would try to prevail on my spouse to get it, since we really are not poor, even if it seems we live that way sometimes.
We tend not to participate in fund raisers, unless it is kids of neighbors/friends. If I don't know the kid, I don't buy. This is a bit of a conflict for me, since I live in this society and want to keep up my end of the social bargain. I think we should support the local community, and the kids' school activities. It would be a sad town to live in if some of these activities were lost due to non-participation.

Pigeon

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Re: How do you handle the never ending teenager expenses?
« Reply #26 on: October 07, 2015, 11:04:09 AM »
If my kids were getting home at 3pm and spending the next 7-8 hours texting, watching TV and playing video games, I'd be all over them getting jobs.  But that's not the experience we have.  Mine are musical.  They belong to several extra curricular music groups at school and generally don't get home until 5pm.  They have lessons (music, dance, sports) most evenings.  One was in a regional youth orchestra through high school that was very time-consuming.  They have an insane amount of homework.  We spend several hours most weekends doing volunteer work as a family.  I can't remember the last time my younger daughter watched a TV show.

None of the extra curricular stuff is necessary, and yes there's the opportunity cost of not having a job.  It's also expensive, with private lessons, orchestra fees, sports fees, instruments, etc.  It has been amazingly good for them though, and I think it's been money very well spent.  The oldest is continuing to play in her college orchestra.  She's not a partier or drinker and she find it great for stress management and its her social life.  (And her violin tutor is trying to talk her into doing music as a second major, yikes.) She has made some money in a quartet, doing weddings and events, but still, it's been expensive.

Personally, I'm perfectly happy to work a couple more years because of it.  My kids aren't entitled, don't expect much "stuff" and are very appreciative of the opportunities they've had. 

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Re: How do you handle the never ending teenager expenses?
« Reply #27 on: October 07, 2015, 12:06:39 PM »
I don't have kids yet, but my parents used to match my expenses at 50% up to a certain amount. If I wanted something that wasn't supposed to be covered by my allowance, I had to pay half of it and they'd cover the other half.

I'm a red panda

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Re: How do you handle the never ending teenager expenses?
« Reply #28 on: October 07, 2015, 12:19:27 PM »
I didn't do clubs or sports, either.


It can be really difficult to get into competitive colleges without clubs or sports now.

Greg

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Re: How do you handle the never ending teenager expenses?
« Reply #29 on: October 07, 2015, 12:21:26 PM »
Simply do not buy the class ring.    He will not wear it longer than a year.  It will not be cool in college to wear your high school class ring

Actually he/she will likely not ever wear it.  A big waste of $366.  If they whine, ask them if they would spend their own $366 on it.

Also, $1000 for a picture is stupid, take your own.  Hire a friend.  Take a photography class.  Think about it: $1000 for a photo.  Think about it.

Drifterrider

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Re: How do you handle the never ending teenager expenses?
« Reply #30 on: October 07, 2015, 01:18:01 PM »
So my question is, how did you handle these expenses? Did you simply refuse to participate or did you just suck it up and pray for graduation?

My school had a photographer come for the yearbook pictures.  I never heard of Senior Pictures.  If we wanted to buy pictures we bought them from the company.  We didn't pay to be photographed.

Class ring.  They can be expensive.  Most people never wear them once they leave HS. 

I wanted to buy two 8 X 10 portraits.  One for mom, one for Grandmother. That is all.  They wanted to sell me 'packages'.  I won, just two please.

Graduation invitations?  I wanted five.  Just five. Not five boxes, not five gross;  just five.  They wouldn't sell them, I bought generic cards and sent them.

Prom?  Some guys rented a tux:  I wore a suit I had. 

How you handle it is to get enough parents to agree ENOUGH.  It has to start there. 

infogoon

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Re: How do you handle the never ending teenager expenses?
« Reply #31 on: October 07, 2015, 02:30:44 PM »
Simply do not buy the class ring.    He will not wear it longer than a year.  It will not be cool in college to wear your high school class ring

I was going to wear mine to my reunion this year, and I forgot.

Back in the drawer for another decade.

Gone Fishing

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Re: How do you handle the never ending teenager expenses?
« Reply #32 on: October 07, 2015, 02:39:36 PM »
My mother took the proof of my senior photo, scanned it, photoshopped out the word "proof" stamped across it and printed out copies to send the grandparents. Yes, she did, and I love her for it! 

teen persuasion

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Re: How do you handle the never ending teenager expenses?
« Reply #33 on: October 07, 2015, 08:11:55 PM »
DS4 is a senior this year.  He had his yearbook photo/ senior picture taken last June when the photographer was at school, no charge for that (you could pay an extra fee for costume changes and more shots, DS had no interest).  We didn't buy any photos.

None of the older kids so far have wanted a ring; we offered to let them choose a non-class ring if they preferred.  DS2 did get a varsity jacket, early in HS so he used it well, and covered it with letters and pins and bars (mostly for music, but also XC, track, swim).  The girls didn't opt to go to the proms, but the boys have (suits they owned/bought, and no limos).

To be honest, other HS activities are more costly for us, on a low level constant basis.  Our school district has a strong music program and our kids have embraced it enthusiastically.  All-county and all-state solo fees, accompanist fees, private lessons, instrument rentals (as they grew) and purchases, concert clothes, costumes for musicals, music, travel, camps/festivals.  None of those are $1000 items, but eventually over the years with 5 kids in multiple ensembles they add up.

Our kids pursue what they are interested in (music, drama, XC, Quidditch, languages), but they've seen our family make choices, money is not infinite for us.  From an early age we've had discussions about the different choices different families make in spending priorities.

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Re: How do you handle the never ending teenager expenses?
« Reply #34 on: October 08, 2015, 04:10:33 PM »
My youngest is almost through the teen years.  Yes, these have been expensive years, but we'd planned for them and were pleased with the balance we achieved between needs and wants:

Senior pictures:  I know of one girl whose mother paid something like 1K for her pictures.  ONE.  Assuming you're talking about public school, you'll have an option to have "just one yearbook shot" made -- it may not be highly publicized.  However, I love the pictures I have of my girls.  Of all the things I wouldn't skip, senior pictures are at the top of the list.  A couple pictures won't break the bank, and no one ever says, "I shouldn't have wasted money on pictures." or "I just hate looking through photographs and remembering the past." 

Class ring:  Our school uses Jostens.  Note that deep in the ring booklet among all the choices-that-all-look-the-same is a BASIC RING that offers the choice of silver or gold ... your school colored stone ... and your date /school mascot on the side.  I'm pretty sure it was $99.  You can get something similar from Walmart or JC Penny's, but I don't know about the quality. I loved my class ring, and my kids love their class rings -- and, yes, they still wear them in college.  In contrast, no one here seems to care about college rings.  I probably know half a dozen men who wear them -- and no women.

Yearbooks:  Again, this is something I'd want my kids to have.  It's a memory of the friends with whom they grew up.  Usually they're cheapest if you order in August. 

Homecoming, Semi-formal, and Prom:  I gave my girls one budget for small dances and a larger budget for prom.  No problem sticking to it. 

Cap and gown, announcements, etc.:  Again, I gave my girls a budget and told them they HAD TO buy the $9.95 cap and gown, and they could buy whatever other stuff -- scrapbooks, extra tassel, senior tee-shirt -- they wanted with the rest.  Both bought JUST the cap and gown and kept the rest of the money. 

SAT fees and college application fees:  These are tough to get around.  I did skip some college application fees, but it isn't something everyone can do -- it kind of has to do with who I am.  Our state has a free application week in November, but it's mostly the small, private schools with lackluster reputations.  One family I know (who has twins) told their kids they'd ONLY pay for two college applications each.  Their reasoning:  The kids need to be selective up front and make decisions ... instead of what most really smart kids do, which is apply everywhere, and then decide whether they like the school.  Kids have this idea that applying to lots of schools increases their chances of scholarships; overall, I haven't found this to be a worthwhile effort -- the vast majority of scholarships are not school-based (of course, as I say that, my youngest IS on a scholarship from her school!). 

Another expense that senior parents (well, this is actually more a junior parent thing) don't see coming:  Visiting colleges.  It's a big decision, and you really should visit the school.  If you can't afford to visit, it's a hint that getting there/back will be a hassle for the next four years.  Anyway, visiting isn't free:  gas, meals, perhaps a hotel room. 

No one's mentioned the biggest single teen expense:  Car insurance.  We chose to pay.  We wanted our kids to gain experience driving (and you don't become GOOD at driving 'til you spend some time behind the wheel on your own) while they were still living in our house. 

Our kids didn't work during the school year.  We feel that the teen years are their one chance to be fairly sure they can make the sports team, their chance to take part in social and service clubs, and just to be kids.  We told them that their JOB is to get a good education and earn scholarships -- they're BOTH in college this year, and after scholarships my total educational outlay for fall semester was $330.  Yes, that's for BOTH girls.  They learned the value of a dollar because we gave them small allowances, and they had to learn to scrimp.  They do more grocery shopping than I do now; I can give them my credit card and a list, and food appears in my house.  It's wonderful!  They also learned responsibility, team work, and all those other things that kids get from jobs.  They did "their job" well in high school, and I'm not at all unhappy that they didn't work at paid jobs. 

Noodle

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Re: How do you handle the never ending teenager expenses?
« Reply #35 on: October 08, 2015, 04:58:40 PM »
I was told as a high school junior and senior; "our budget for the year is X.  You decide how that $.  It was not enough for all that stuff so I had to pick and choose which things to get.  I chose prom, high school ring and some $ to augment my own earnings for a class trip.  I didn't go to homecoming, I didn't buy a portrait package, I made my own graduation announcements, I did a volunteer project on spring break and I funded my own Senior Skip Day.  I liked that approach- it gave me the choice but didn't run my parents into the ground.

I love this idea! (bearing in mind that I am not a teenager or the parent of one). If the family can manage it, I think it is a nice gesture for parents to make a contribution toward senior year. Giving a budget that will help and then letting teen manage it, along with as many ideas as teen is willing to listen to about saving money on various areas, seems like a nice compromise. It would have driven me crazy to negotiate every single item with my folks. (I went to school in a rural area long enough ago that the senior year "specials" were pretty modest and easily covered by most families/teens).

La Bibliotecaria Feroz

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Re: How do you handle the never ending teenager expenses?
« Reply #36 on: October 08, 2015, 05:06:10 PM »
+1 for budget idea. You should not be negotiating every item, and kids should not be learning that class rings grow on trees.

I get that you don't want them working too much, but if you just buy all their stuff, they will not learn to manage money.


teen persuasion

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Re: How do you handle the never ending teenager expenses?
« Reply #37 on: October 09, 2015, 07:39:07 AM »
The discussion of whether you will/do continue to wear your HS ring has struck me.  I did get a HS ring, but it is not the traditional HS ring.  I went to a private all girls school, and we have a unique ring, locally everyone knows our ring. AFAIK, everyone gets a ring, there is a special ring ceremony.  My ring was first my mom's ring (she's also an alum), so it is something of a family heirloom to me.

That said, I don't wear it now, I'm not in the immediate area that recognizes the ring, and constant wear can be rough on them (the pearls tend to fall out with repeated exposure to water).  The generation before me did tend to wear them proudly for decades, though.  It was a different era, few went to college, and the ring is very different: flat gold with a pale blue enamel stripe on the front surface, and 7 tiny pearls along the bottom edge.

ETA: looking online, I see that there is a donation site set up so alumnae that no longer wear their rings can donate them back to the school for girls that might have trouble affording to have a new one made.  Older ones were better made than the "new" ones when I was a junior, my mom's is much nicer than my classmates' rings.  Nice to see them handle it this way.
« Last Edit: October 09, 2015, 07:51:18 AM by teen persuasion »

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Re: How do you handle the never ending teenager expenses?
« Reply #38 on: October 09, 2015, 08:03:55 AM »
My mother took the proof of my senior photo, scanned it, photoshopped out the word "proof" stamped across it and printed out copies to send the grandparents. Yes, she did, and I love her for it!

This to me is the difference between frugal and cheap.
Stealing someone's work is not a good thing, IMO.

Cgbg

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Re: How do you handle the never ending teenager expenses?
« Reply #39 on: October 09, 2015, 08:34:55 AM »
What others have said - wants vs needs and allowances.

I have a senior and a junior and aggressive savings goals so yes it is painful. The word 'no' has been handy. My oldest is in the throes of college applications so he has a better grasp on the financials than the younger one. We have a set limit for what we will spend for college annually and I've been frank with them over the years on what that actually means for the spending choices we make.

So yes, I will pay for cross country fees and band fees and college class fees (they both take college classes in high school - these are not free.) No I will not pay for an international rock climbing trip (*snort* dh and I are still chuckling over that request.) Yes you can take the SAT more than once and yes we will pay college application fees and the fees to send test scores (what a racket!)

Class rings aren't a thing at our school. Senior portraits aren't either. Kids generally just take the one that the school photographer does. Dances are reasonable - I generally have them pay the fee for that.

For parents of younger kids, it might be helpful to figure this out before the kids get to high school. The concept of wants vs needs should be started much earlier.

We switched them from all cash to debit cards once they hit 16. I can see how they manage their money, and the conversations over the years on how we spend money just means that they have been very responsible. There is no guarantee of repayment of things they buy- so if they are unsure they ask me ahead of time. I pay for gas and dinners out when their team travels, but otherwise if they spend they don't get it replaced. Allowance money goes in once a week.

We are also in the no-jobs camp. Summer jobs are fine - we actually require that they either get a job, do an internship (paid or not) or take a college class. They don't get to hang out all summer doing nothing. But during the school year- no way unless they only do weekend jobs. School is their job. Fitting in college classes, sports and other extracurriculars is already time consuming enough. The oldest will get a job this spring when he isn't bouncing around between high school and two different universities- and I'm ok with that because he will only have one high school class this spring.
« Last Edit: October 09, 2015, 08:36:50 AM by Cgbg »

mm1970

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Re: How do you handle the never ending teenager expenses?
« Reply #40 on: October 09, 2015, 11:11:41 AM »
I have two, a DS, 17 year old HS senior and DD, 15 year old HS sophmore. They are good kids, good grades, not trouble makers, don't ask for a lot. 

I can not seem to get a handle on the avalanche of never ending high school expenses. Of course every day is a different fundraiser. I trained my kids on this early though, they don't even bring them home. It's absolutely ridiculous for me to buy a $5.00 pepperoni roll for them to earn $2.00 for a field trip. I'll just pay for the field trip.

But there are also high school expenses I didn't recall. This week alone it was class ring ordering time for the sophmore $366., senior portrait deposit for the senior. Two application fees for college and I am staring down the barrel of the homecoming dance that both kids want to attend. The dance entails tickets and clothing.

I think my only option is to suck it up. DS works on the weekends already and is banking his income so that he has spending money in college. DH doesn't want him working during the week and DD is too young to get a work permit. She has tried the babysitting route but we live pretty rural and we just can't scare up any customers for her.

We can afford the expenses it's just frustrating to me that I don't always see these things as the best way to spend our money. Senior portraits when I was in HS was the photographer came to the school and we all wore what they supplied. Now it's a professional photographer you hire, doing photos of your kid sitting casually on a log in the woods at peak leaf time. Cost averages $1,000.

I did spend a couple of hours doing research and I have found a nice photographer who will do the whole shebang for $350. But the $1,000 photographer is who a lot of folks are using, even those kids receiving free or reduced lunch. I just can't believe it!

So my question is, how did you handle these expenses? Did you simply refuse to participate or did you just suck it up and pray for graduation?
I think just choose a budget for the year.

Class ring for a sophomore? I think I got my class ring as a senior.  It was so important to me.  Ask me how important it is now?  I lost it decades ago.  Also, I didn't date much, so I only went to dances as a junior and senior, not as a sophomore.

Also, when I had my senior pics taken, it was much cheaper and not a special photog.  You should look around for that and find someone else. I have a high school friend with a DSLR who has been getting into doing senior pics, and she charges only about $100 to $200 for a session, because she's just getting into it. But she's very good.

MrsPete

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Re: How do you handle the never ending teenager expenses?
« Reply #41 on: October 09, 2015, 08:18:35 PM »
My mother took the proof of my senior photo, scanned it, photoshopped out the word "proof" stamped across it and printed out copies to send the grandparents. Yes, she did, and I love her for it!

This to me is the difference between frugal and cheap.
Stealing someone's work is not a good thing, IMO.
As a photography teacher, I agree.
I also can't believe this would come out looking good. 

MrsPete

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Re: How do you handle the never ending teenager expenses?
« Reply #42 on: October 09, 2015, 08:22:23 PM »
We switched them from all cash to debit cards once they hit 16. I can see how they manage their money, and the conversations over the years on how we spend money just means that they have been very responsible. There is no guarantee of repayment of things they buy- so if they are unsure they ask me ahead of time. I pay for gas and dinners out when their team travels, but otherwise if they spend they don't get it replaced. Allowance money goes in once a week.
This is off-topic, but the summer before they became high school seniors, I helped my kids open a checking account and got them a debit card.  During their senior year, I deposited their spending money into their accounts instead of giving them cash, and every month I helped them balance their checking accounts each month.  With a year of me looking over their shoulders, they learned. 

I may've done other things wrong, but I did teach them to manage money well -- and it shows. 

MrsPete

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Re: How do you handle the never ending teenager expenses?
« Reply #43 on: October 09, 2015, 08:32:57 PM »
I think just choose a budget for the year.
Great choice.  Things to consider:

- How will you determine the amount?
- If this concept will be new to your child, consider giving it in "increments":  X amount when it's time to order senior items.  X amount for college costs.  Etc.  If your child is new to budgeting, THE WHOLE THING might seem like soooo much money, and the project might backfire.
- If you give a budget, you must also give the child freedom to make choices.  If you give him money and then stand over his shoulder and tell him to spend X amount in this way, where's the learning experience?   
- What's your fallback plan?  By that, I mean, IF your child should mess up ... and then he doesn't have money to buy a class ring, you can say, "Suck it up" ... but what if he doesn't have money to buy his cap and gown?  You're probably not okay with him skipping the graduation ceremony. 

Finally, when you make a financial "deal" with a 17-18 year old, DON'T change the rules on him later.  This stuff is hard enough for them without you moving the targets!  I'm thinking of a friend of my daughter's.  She fell in love with a school she couldn't afford.  Her parents had saved roughly ZERO for her college expenses.  She and her mom agreed that they'd each borrow 1/2 the cost of attendance -- okay, bad choice in my opinion, but not my decision.  She went to school, loved it, was successful ... but after Year 1, mom realized that she couldn't afford to do this for four years ... and then do it again for the younger sister ... so she told the girl that she couldn't continue to borrow.  That if she wanted to stay at that school, the daughter would have to borrow the whole cost -- essentially doubling the cost for her.  It put the daughter into a bad situation, and she dropped out of school.  I say Mom allowed the daughter to get herself into a bad situation by failing to say, "Sorry, but we can't afford that", but then she was awful to her daughter in changing the rules partway through.


LiveLean

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Re: How do you handle the never ending teenager expenses?
« Reply #44 on: October 09, 2015, 08:41:17 PM »

Simple: Have sons only, no daughters.

ltt

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Re: How do you handle the never ending teenager expenses?
« Reply #45 on: October 10, 2015, 05:56:55 AM »
I have two, a DS, 17 year old HS senior and DD, 15 year old HS sophmore. They are good kids, good grades, not trouble makers, don't ask for a lot. 

I can not seem to get a handle on the avalanche of never ending high school expenses. Of course every day is a different fundraiser. I trained my kids on this early though, they don't even bring them home. It's absolutely ridiculous for me to buy a $5.00 pepperoni roll for them to earn $2.00 for a field trip. I'll just pay for the field trip.

But there are also high school expenses I didn't recall. This week alone it was class ring ordering time for the sophmore $366., senior portrait deposit for the senior. Two application fees for college and I am staring down the barrel of the homecoming dance that both kids want to attend. The dance entails tickets and clothing.

I think my only option is to suck it up. DS works on the weekends already and is banking his income so that he has spending money in college. DH doesn't want him working during the week and DD is too young to get a work permit. She has tried the babysitting route but we live pretty rural and we just can't scare up any customers for her.

We can afford the expenses it's just frustrating to me that I don't always see these things as the best way to spend our money. Senior portraits when I was in HS was the photographer came to the school and we all wore what they supplied. Now it's a professional photographer you hire, doing photos of your kid sitting casually on a log in the woods at peak leaf time. Cost averages $1,000.

I did spend a couple of hours doing research and I have found a nice photographer who will do the whole shebang for $350. But the $1,000 photographer is who a lot of folks are using, even those kids receiving free or reduced lunch. I just can't believe it!

So my question is, how did you handle these expenses? Did you simply refuse to participate or did you just suck it up and pray for graduation?

For the class ring, we did tell our children that you don't wear them for very long, and it was just not worth the money.  Neither child has seemed very interested.  Senior pictures---took our own.  I took a whole lot of pictures--well over 100.  We live in a rural area with lots of trees on our property, so we just went all around it and took pictures.  Narrowed down the ones we liked, and ended up with a wonderful senior picture that our teen liked.  Probably spent 1 to 1-1/2 hours taking them.  Application fees for college--our teen was interested in two colleges (one had an app fee; the other didn't).  The one he has chosen didn't require the fee.  I don't think that having two college app fees is very bad.  For cap and gown and all the other little extras on the order form, we simply ordered the cap and gown only.  It's all the marketing that really bothers me.

the_fella

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Re: How do you handle the never ending teenager expenses?
« Reply #46 on: October 10, 2015, 10:57:36 AM »
I think class rings are stupid, but if you must get one, Walmart has them starting at $74. http://classrings.walmart.com/

FIRE me

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Re: How do you handle the never ending teenager expenses?
« Reply #47 on: October 10, 2015, 11:24:09 AM »
She also didn't want a class ring.  I offered, but she declined.

And I thought I was the only human being on Earth to have turned down a “free” (free to me) high school class ring.

yuka

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Re: How do you handle the never ending teenager expenses?
« Reply #48 on: October 10, 2015, 12:50:06 PM »
I just finished undergrad in May, so my experience would be pretty recent (HS c/o 2011). The photos thing is absolutely insane! At a cost of $1000 per person, that's the ceiling for my fiancee and I for our wedding. But for photos of them just being seniors (not a particular event)? Just take pictures when you do things as a family. Then your pictures also serve as reminders of fun memories.

The class ring has been beaten to death, but I'll agree that all my friends and I thought people wearing high school rings were weird. On the other hand, I am glad I bought my college ring. It's an unwieldy $1500 pile of gold, topaz, and diamonds, but I wear it a lot. Well, mostly I used to; working through some self-esteem issues that make me uncomfortable being a representation of my university, which I don't think I lived or am living up to.

And I agree with other posters that you should let them pay for more of their own expenses. I'm quite sure I paid for my own tickets and clothing rentals. Although I should admit that my parents would give me money to go do things with friends because I would otherwise skip things that cost me money...

On the college applications thing... I don't know. I only did one application, and it was free. I completed three others, but refrained from submitting them because I didn't want to waste my parents' money if it turned out I was uninterested in those schools. I'd say if they won't be bothered spending your money on applications (doesn't sound like that's a concern), then you should just pay for all the applications. I imagine they'll mostly apply to the number of schools that you suggest is reasonable. My brothers and I each applied to four schools (or planned to, in my case) because that's how many SAT scores were included in the cost of the test. I also knew some people who applied to 10-12 schools; I liked to ask them if they could remember their whole list of schools. If your kids are doing the ivy applications, they'll need to do a lot because those are all a crap shoot without something really spectacular on your application.

Juslookin

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Re: How do you handle the never ending teenager expenses?
« Reply #49 on: October 10, 2015, 06:17:08 PM »

Simple: Have sons only, no daughters.

This, for sure!