What should a teenager pay for: A comprehensive guide

What should a teenager pay for: A comprehensive guide

With teen independence comes teen expenses, and with this, more frequent trips to the bank of mum and dad. Yet, there comes a time in every teen's life when they need to navigate their own expenditure and become more financially responsible.


Related: Budgeting for teens




Examples of what a teenager could pay for by themselves

According to our report, Is this the end of the bank of Mum and Dad? The average weekly pocket money for teens aged between 13 and 17 years is £13 a week. Your teen may get less or more than this, but it's a good amount of disposable income for someone with no bills, mortgage or grocery payments to make.


If it's part of your plan to help your teen become financially responsible and improve their financial literacy, then the teen years are a great time to start handing over some items for them to pay for out of their own pocket. This will help them become more financially empowered and teach them how to budget, spend and delay gratification to ensure they have money for what they want.


Here are ten examples of what a teenager could pay for by themselves:


  1. Clothes: Uniform and everyday clothes aside, most teens love to buy clothes. One in five teenagers say they buy second-hand items through websites like eBay and Depop regularly, and our data shows that last year, GoHenry kids and teens spent £635,350 at Depop, spending an average of £58.76 per customer. It's rarely a question of need with extra clothes, so this is one to hand over.

  2. Going out: Teens love socialising away from home, so ensuring they pay for movies, concerts, or sporting events is a good way to get them to prioritise their money and budget.

  3. Snacks and sweets: The average UK kid consumes 156 cans of fizzy drinks and 208 bags of sweets, according to a survey from Arla Explorers. Let kids see how fast that adds up when using pocket money.

  4. Transport: School journeys aside, bus fare and train tickets for when they go out with friends is something they could cover themselves. 

  5. Gifts: They also need to factor in buying gifts for their friends, family members, or significant others.

  6. Gaming. 40% of teens spend on gaming, so remind them to add it to their list, whether they’re after a new skin, a loot box or a new game.

  7. Toiletries. Beyond personal care items, teens who want specific items should pay for their own skincare, make-up and expensive shampoos and hair care.

  8. Streaming services. Again, beyond what you have as a household, let your child know what services they need to budget for, whether this is Spotify, Apple TV or something else.

  9. Subscriptions: Whether these subscriptions are for a beauty club, a discount site or something else, personal subscriptions should come from pocket money.

  10. Miscellaneous items: LED lights for their room, books, face masks, gadgets, and anything that's currently trending on social media can come out of pocket money.




Why you shouldn't pay for everything for your teen

There are so many reasons you should only pay for some things for your teen, but the main one is that always paying for things doesn't teach them money management.


If your teen never has to save or budget, they won't learn to value money or be financially responsible. This means they won't be prepared for adulthood when they leave home for university.


Being an endless source of money for them can also lead to a sense of entitlement. If your teen always gets what they want, they can start to feel that they don't have to work hard for anything.


Financial education is key for teens, and the top of this list is budgeting and tracking their weekly spending. Our research reveals that young people who develop good financial habits like budgeting early in life tend to become financially responsible and independent in adulthood. In contrast, adults who don't learn about money management in childhood can struggle to save money and are more likely to get into debt. 


Examples of what you pay for as a parent

Outside of the obvious expenses you pay as a parent, many teens aren't aware of the range of costs associated with everyday life as an adult.


Talking to them and showing them what you need to pay before you have any extra money can be eye-opening, and help teens to see why it's important to learn to budget, save and manage your money effectively.


Break down your costs in black and white and then subtract from your monthly income to show them how many costs are on your plate as an adult.


  • Food

  • Rent/Mortgage

  • Gas/Electricity/Water

  • Council Tax

  • Mobile phones

  • Broadband

  • Streaming services

  • Insurance

  • Car expenses

  • Pet expenses

  • Savings

  • Credit card bills


Showing teens that handling finances is more complicated than it appears can help them improve their financial literacy by helping them understand why it's important to take on their own costs.


How can a teen earn money to pay for their own things

Of course, taking on a range of costs isn't easy when your money is limited. Help your teen see that they have the power to affect their income by generating work and earning more to add to their pocket money. The good news is our  Youth Economy Report found that more than seven out of ten kids (71%) say that making their own money is important, so here's how to help them find ways to earn:


  • Sell things online. Our data shows a quarter of kids and teens (25%) now earn from selling items on online marketplaces such as Etsy, eBay, Depop and Vinted.

  • Find a part-time job. Finding a part-time job can be challenging. Only about one-third of teenagers today have part-time jobs due to limited opportunities and time constraints. If your teen is looking for the best high-paying jobs for teens aged 15+, here are some options: retail work pays £9 - 10 an hour; babysitting pays £8 an hour; working in a salon pays £4.81 an hour plus tips; working in a fast-food restaurant pays £8 an hour.

  • Do extra chores for pocket money. Appropriate chores for older teens that not only help them pull their weight but could earn them extra pocket money could include doing their own laundry, cooking a meal once a week, helping with younger siblings, and picking up supplies at the supermarket.

  • Tutoring. Teens who have passed their GCSEs can offer tutoring help to younger students via tutor centres.


How can GoHenry help?

A GoHenry account can accelerate a teen’s financial education in several ways. Firstly, a GoHenry teen prepaid debit card can help establish a link between work and money by letting kids get paid for tasks and chores directly within the app. It can also help them track their spend and budget, so they learn to live within their means. In addition, in-app Money Missions helps teens gain real-world skills through bite-sized videos and quizzes.




Written by Anita Naik Published Jan 16, 2024 ● 4 min. read