Costs to consider when raising a teenager

The teen years –can be expensive; estimates for raising a child to 18 years of age range from $165,000 to $240,000 or more1, with annual costs rising steeply.

And it’s not just about the expenses – your time and energy will go toward supporting your teens through emotional turmoil, changing hormones and social dynamics.

Having a plan and budget will help you manage costs, which can reduce stress so you can better enjoy your time together as a family.

Here are some rough estimates of the main expenses for raising a teen. However, they don’t account for household costs, family vacations and other special items. Nor do they reflect that some teens find a part-time job to cover discretionary spending (clothing, eating out, mobile devices, hobbies, etc.).

As every family is different, the costs will vary:


  • Estimate: $2,400/year during the teen years, with boys’ food costs significantly higher than girls’ (this doesn’t include restaurant meals and snacks).
  • Mitigate costs: Consider buying food in bulk, especially if you have more than one teen to feed (and in some cases, their friends).

Clothing and fashion

  • Estimate: While boys are more expensive to feed, girls tend to be more expensive to clothe — costing sometimes 10% more than boys.
  • Mitigate costs: Consider having a set amount in your budget per month for clothing, and use it as a way to help your teen learn about budgeting.


  • Estimates:
    • $200+ annually for school supplies while your teen is in high school
    • This amount rises dramatically in post-secondary (tuition, textbooks, etc). For a four-year degree:
      • $20,000/year (teen lives at home)
      • $65,000/year (lives away)
  • Mitigate costs: Registered Educational Savings Plans (REPSs) are a good way to save you’re your teen’s college or university costs. You can open an RESP at any time, and anyone can contribute (grandparents and other family members).


  • Estimates: Smartphone: $50 – $75/month and Laptop: $500 – $2,000, every 3 to 5 years
  • Mitigate costs: Look for family plans and bundles, as well as second-hand devices, to lower costs. High-end used laptops, with warranty, are also available through reputable resellers.

Medical, dental and eye care

  • Estimates: Most medical services are covered by provincial healthcare. However, expect to pay $75 – $90/visit for health practitioners not covered.
    • Dental: $150/check-up and cleaning (not including cavities or other work)
    • Orthodontics: $4,500–7,500 for braces
    • Glasses: $300-700/pair
    • Disposable contacts: $400–800/year

This category can be hefty, depending on your teen’s needs — everything from sports physio to psychology to nutritionists to unexpected illnesses could require you to pay out-of-pocket.

  • Mitigate costs: If you have a workplace or other group benefit plan covering some or all of these costs, you’re in luck. Pay close attention to deductibles and annual limits. If you can increase coverage, it may be worth the extra monthly cost.


  • Estimates: The biggest expenditure is gas and wear-and-tear on your family vehicle(s), as well as your time as you ferry teens between appointments, school, practices, etc.
  • Mitigate costs: Carpooling is a smart option if you can coordinate with other families. Public transportation can be another option and can help reinforce responsibility and independence.

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