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Q&A | Septum piercing, post-lockdown, + handling teen expenses

If you have a question you want me to answer in a future Q&A post, send me an email ( and put Q&A in the subject line. You can also leave a question in the comments here, but I do lose track of those sometimes. 

Hello, hello! I’ve got a new set of questions to answer, and they are an especially random lot today.

I see Lisey has a septum piercing! My teen wants one. Did it hurt a lot?!


A septum piercing seems to be far less painful than the nostril piercing I had. Lisey didn’t experience much pain at all, and it healed so much faster than my piercing did.

The septum piercing has also healed way faster than our ear cartilage piercings. 

Kristen and Lisey

So, I would not say pain is a huge issue to consider with this one. It was a lot more like getting an ear lobe pierced, and an ear lobe is really no big deal.

What does everyone look forward to doing when quarantine is over?


I personally am feeling ok about being stuck at home, but I hate seeing my girls struggle. So I am most looking forward to them being able to see friends and go places. I will feel happier when they are feeling happier! 

Aside from that, I am looking forward to being able to see people myself. It feels like ages since I saw my parents and siblings.

Kristen and her family

From a ski trip with my family  in January. It seems crazy we used to travel places!

Mr. FG gets cabin fever more than I do, so I know he will be happy when he can get out and about more.

Sonia in particular is looking forward to getting her learner’s permit. No licensing/permitting has been allowed for months now, and we are hoping sometime this summer maybe she can get her permit.

How do you handle teen expenses?

-multiple readers

I’ll share what we’ve done, with the caveat that this is descriptive, not prescriptive. Your mileage may vary, and what works for us is not necessarily what will work for you. 

Cell Phone

They buy their own phones if they want an upgrade over and above our hand-me-down phones.

For service, they can stay on our Ting plan, but they are responsible for paying for their data usage.

(At first, we were covering the whole bill. But we found that teens are not that motivated to curb data usage and look for WiFi if they are not the ones paying for the bill. Thus, the new policy!)

Driver’s Ed

We’ve paid for this 100%.

Honda Civic

Car Insurance

We split this 50/50 with our kids from the time they get licensed through college. After that, they’ll need to pay for it on their own.


We have provided a used car for our kids to drive while they are in high school/college.

If the car makes it until after college graduation, they can either buy the car from us (it should be a very cheap purchase by then!) or give it back and buy their own. 

Honda Civic

College Tuition

We pay for 100% of their books and tuition for any classes taken in high school.

After that, we have some money saved for them to use for college tuition/books, and any money spent beyond that is their responsibility. 

If we’d started life out with a higher income, we could have saved more for their college expenses. But alas, that was just not the case.

So, we’ve:

  • saved what we could for them (we’re still contributing each month for all four of them)
  • helped them get quite a few college credits knocked out while in high school
  • helped them out with a car and car insurance
  • offered them free room and board here at home while they’re in college

Part of me wishes we had been able to save enough put them through four years of college.

But I know that having to pay for a lot of it on their own will definitely help them to value their degree more, and it will also inspire them to be smart about their school and living choices.

(If you have to pay for your school, you do not tend to putz around, taking a bunch of classes that have nothing to do with your degree! Kind of like how you don’t use as much cellular data if you have to foot the bill. 🙂 )

For instance, Lisey has studied for and taken a bunch of CLEP tests because that’s a much cheaper way to get some of her basic credits.

When she finishes at the community college, she’s transferring to an in-state university that has a great language program because when she saw how much out of state tuition was, she felt like the choice was clear.

And she’s purposely looked for jobs that pay more than minimum wage (she bar backed for a while and now she works an automotive job) so that she can save more for college.

Lisey changing her oil

Lisey can do her own oil changes now. 🙂

Readers with older kids, how have you handled teen expenses? And on another note, what are you looking forward after social distancing is over?

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Thursday 4th of June 2020

This sounds like a really solid start to life as an adult!

It's very close to the approach we intend to take, and the one I wish my parents had taken with us - they ended up paying for more than I think was helpful, though I do understand why.

My dad had to work in middle and high school to help his family, usually pulling thistles farmers' fields, and tasseling corn. In college he was able to get a job working as a bike mechanic to help pay for school. My mom worked as a waitress through at least college (I'm not sure about high school). While my mom was fine with letting us find jobs as long as we also kept up our grades, it was really important to my dad that we focus all of our efforts on school and school-related activities only, even in college. I had to defy him in order to get the grading job I worked in college - in his mind, only summer (or non-academic season) internships were permissible work for a college student.

In the long run, I don't think he did us any favors - sure, we all turned out ok within about 10 years of graduation, but I think working minimum-wage service-sector jobs is an important experience for everyone. I ended up working as a barista and later as a nursing assistant after getting laid off as an engineer, and learned so much more about work ethic, time management, and budgeting from that season of my life than I ever did working as an engineer. It made me better at recognizing a good manager, better at finding internal motivation to just get things done vs. completing assignments perfectly, finding my own worth apart from the prestigious title of "engineer", and helped me learn appreciation for the work done in the service sector.


Wednesday 3rd of June 2020

I work at a university and (at least at my college) some student jobs include a tuition waiver (usually graduate teaching assistant and graduate research assistant, but there may be more that I don’t know about). And there are student jobs for undergrads, usually food service, that pay room and board (especially helpful for students who can’t live at home or afford an off campus place). Students won’t be making $$$ but it can help pay for college and help build/start building their job history.


Wednesday 3rd of June 2020

For Lisey as she going to college, one thing I found helpful was to buy books for the spring semester in December - before the 31st. She can contact her professors to see if they know what books they will use. Then when it comes time to get her taxes done, she can get her money back on her fall books and spring books in the spring rather than having to wait until the next income tax period for that spring money. I ordered mine online and just saved the orders saying I had paid for them and printed them for the tax preparer.

Also if she is looking for student work, have her apply in the library. I have worked in many an academic library and the students were always treated well and the odds are quite good she will be able to work on her homework at work - especially if she does a night shift. Plus, a perk is usually free printing if the school doesn't offer free printing.

Rachel R.

Wednesday 3rd of June 2020

Parks & Sunday School classrooms. My oldest is 8.

I have to chuckle at all the library posts, as I work at one and we are excited to re-open as well. Too quiet and lonely without everyone!


Tuesday 2nd of June 2020

Social distancing is not affecting me so much since I still work outside of the house (hospital), hubby still work (at home), and the kids are back in school. But I do miss my public library immensely!! And being able to get into stores without a line-up and an interrogation, and arrows to follow. That's it. I see my friends/get my social at work (collegues). I actually enjoy the calmer rythm of life that we are in +my family and I). It's relaxing not having to think about having people over, going places, etc. Too bad this is all related to a terrible virus :(

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