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3 Big-Ticket Items Teens Save Up For That Also Have Hidden Costs

There comes a time in every teen’s life when their interests and hobbies outgrow the realm of childhood and enter into a mature landscape of adulthood. The only problem is their maturing interests develop faster than their financial literacy skills.

Despite their best efforts to save money toward expensive items they intend to buy , most teens fail to account for the additional, and sometimes hidden, costs associated with these purchases.

Here are three big-ticket items many teens will save up for without considering the additional costs.

Cell Phone

Today’s cell phones are used for more than strictly making phone calls, but that doesn’t mean your teen should buy one simply for its camera capabilities. A data plan is a necessary evil, and the average monthly bill can range upwards of $100, according to U.S. News & World Report. Additionally, there are the expenses to insure a phone, not to mention all the bells and whistles teens will surely want to add on. What all this means is after your teen has saved up money for the physical phone they will need to continue their thrifty ways on a month-to-month basis if they want to keep their phone operational.


When it comes to ditching the “little kid” status, owning a car is just about the quickest route for teens. But cars are a big responsibility, and the associated costs back that up. Right off the bat there’s car insurance, which the DMV says averages close to $900 a year. There’s no grey area here—if your teen wants to be on the road they MUST have car insurance. Then there’s gas, which is fairly important if your teen wants to actually drive anywhere. (Parents might be fine with a car that never leaves the driveway though.) And don’t forget how costly it is when—not if, when—the car needs repairs. Teens should be aware that car ownership is an ongoing responsibility.


It’s more than likely that your teen already has access to a home computer. It’s also more than likely your teen wants their own fancier version. That’s fine as long as they understand that without paying the additional costs, they’ll be able to use it for games of solitaire and little else. Most software comes with a price tag (think Microsoft Office), as does hardware (mouse, printer, speakers). Then there’s virus protection and a warranty, which is recommended if your teen wants to get the most out of their purchase.

Maybe you’re covering all of these costs for your teen, and maybe you’re not. It’s safe to say most parents will fall somewhere in the middle. Encourage your teen to research additional costs when they begin the process of saving. It will save them from disappointment later on, which will save you from having to hear about how unfair it all is.