The photo above may seem like an odd illustration for the title of this post, but read on to find out why I used it.

Let’s face it, teenagers are expensive. I have had to learn to be creative over the years in order to provide for their “fitting-in” needs, as well as keeping my husband and I sane in the process. Well, maybe not totally sane!

Here are some practical (and sometimes fun) ways to save money with your teenagers.


– Those cute flower barrettes and clips that sell for $3-10 a piece can be made simply and cheaply. Just go to the dollar store and get bouquets of those gaudy fake flowers. Snip or pull them off of the stems, and hot glue them to any  cheap or old barrett or clip. Wrap head bands in ribbon and glue vintage jewelry to look like expensive boutique style headbands. Buy those awful thrift store purses with the sequined flowers…then just remove them and use them for your new one of a kind hair pieces. We have made some awesome looking hair accessories over the years! The picture above is our newest endeavor.

We are going to make our own hair extensions. My daughter is attending beauty school and says the good quality ones made with real human hair sell for $90. We are using real human hair from a mannequin that I picked up at a thrift store for $8. We figure we can make about 50-75 hair clip extensions out of that mannequin head. She will color them different shades and sell them to help pay her student loan. Along with keeping some for herself of course! I found a tutorial using fishing line to weave the hair into a solid form. Then it is sewn into cheap wig clips.

Voila! Home made hair extension clips!

For boys hair, invest in some clippers. Most cuts are simple to do at home, and save you the unnecessary trip and cost of going out to get it cut. Also, when you buy shampoo, opt for the cheaper brands for the boys. They won’t mind as long as it doesn’t make their hair greasy, and you won’t be wasting expensive, detangling, conditioning, girly products on a boy who could usually care less!

Tennis shoes

– When the kids insist on having the best and coolest shoes and there is no way around it (without feeling like a total cheapskate), I usually go to the manufacturer’s website to see if there are any coupons to print. Then I go to the stores we have in mind for buying the shoes and see if they have a blanket sale. (20 % off everything in stock etc.), Thirdly I look for the best sale price on the shoes they want. I have gotten a pair of $125 Osiris brand shoes for $50 doing this. We were also able to purchase a pair of $90 Nike for $35. $80 Etnies for $30. I could go on but you get the point. Shop around and use the coupons!

School supplies

– The time is over when you can spend a few dollars on crayons, glue, and a cute little cheapo backpack or book bag. When the kids get older they need things like calculators, computers, nicer backpacks, and huge binders. We always buy things like this on eBay. I hate to talk about eBay so much, but when you can save as much as we have I just can’t help it! This past school year I bought a really nice Texas Instruments scientific calculator on eBay for $4.00. You just can’t beat that.

Halloween costumes

– My kids know by now that I refuse to spend $100 on that perfect Halloween costume. They only need to decide #1 If they want to dress up or hand out candy. #2 What they want to be. # 3 How to create their costume for under $20.  When I look back at some of the costumes that we have made over the years, I think they actually look better than some of those expensive, ready-to-wear, store-bought costumes.

Birthday parties

– Make a bowl of punch instead of soda. Half-full soda cans will be all over the house with money poured right down the drain. Just keep refilling the punch bowl as needed. Make your own pizzas. (Recipe on this site.) It’s MUCH cheaper then buying a dozen frozen pizzas or ordering out. You can make them in advance so you’re not messing around with dough while the party is going on. Since they are not little princes and princesses anymore, don’t spend a huge amount of money on decorations. Two different colored streamers around the room with matching balloons should suffice. Plain old paper plates without the “themes” and white plastic silverware. If you are going to have games, do not buy the ready-made type. The home-made ones are always the most fun. Have a good old-fashioned scavenger hunt, do an egg balance game, or try cheese curl toss. (Outside.) There are lots of good web sites with free party ideas for teenagers. For prizes, buy the large-sized candy bars, or frame a picture of the birthday boy/girl and give it to them. If they insist on treat bags, fill plain old zip-lock bags with a party horn and bite sized candy with shredded colored tissue paper (which will become confetti later.)

Go ahead and let them collect some junk

– My 15-year-old son continues to impress me with some of the ways he earns his own money for buying the things he likes. He once bought an old bike frame at a garage sale for $5. After nagging him about his junk in the yard for about a week, he presented me with a freshly painted frame that was a brand name called “Gary Fischer.” The bike frames alone sell for $400 on eBay! He also acquires lawn mowers he gets from junk piles and does minor repairs like fixing the magneto or rebuilding the carburetor and turns around to sell for profit. He recently started replacing the LCD screens on Ipods and making money that way. He just learned a way of fixing the common “3 rings of death” on the Xbox 360 by taking out the old heat sinks, and wrapping 4 pennies with electrical tape and white pipe thread compound to make new heat sinks. I often find him collecting discarded lumber that he uses to make bike and skateboard ramps. The next thing I want him to build is a shed that he can keep all of his projects in! Bottom line is, if you have a handy son (or daughter), don’t be so quick to make them get the junk out!

I like to include recipes with some of my posts and thought this one was fitting.

Home-made acne soap

1 small bar ivory soap (grated)

1 teaspoon tea tree oil

1/4 cup grated ginger root

1 teaspoon pure undiluted lemon juice.

2 cups boiling water.

Bring ginger root and water to a boil. Continue boiling for at least 20 minutes to release beneficial oils from the ginger. Strain, and return medicated water to pan. Add ivory soap and heat, stirring occasionally until soap is completely dissolved. Allow to come to room temperature, and then add the tea tree oil and lemon. Gently funnel into a pump dispenser. Wash as you would regular soap and rinse thoroughly. Mixture will be very thin but effective at drying the skin and removing the dirt and oil.

Remember “Raising teenagers is like nailing Jello to a tree.”


3 responses

  1. Heather says:

    Great ideas! Thanks 🙂 We have 3 teens currently. Very helpful!

  2. Ha! Haven’t got a teenager yet, but some good advice and suggestions there.

  3. Don’t have a teenager yet but some useful advice there!