I am looking for advice for a teenager starting out on his own. What foods are cheapest? How do I save money on cleaning supplies? How do I stay busy?
Get cleaning supplies at the dollar store! Learn to cook - beans are very in expensive & nutritious. Also eat cheese, eggs, less meat.
Oh boy is Pam right about beans, eggs, and cheese! Plenty of protein for a fairly reasonable cost, although cheese can be a little pricey.
And the dollar stores (in the US I loved Dollar General especially) are your Go-To stores for cleaning supplies including laundry soaps, and things like paper towels, toilet paper, tin foil, zip closure bags. Go have a wander through one to see what is available, it's amazing!
Be careful about buying foods and electrical items there, though, as the quality on those can be hit-miss especially on electrical goods. Saving $10 on a space heater is no savings if it isn't energy efficient or worse, starts a fire.
I taught my son three really helpful things when he went out on his own:
The first was that vinegar mixed with water is an amazing cleaner that cuts grease, kills mold, disinfects, deodorizes, and costs pennies.
Second was how to budget his money. He grew up watching me separate cash into envelopes marked 'electric', 'gas', 'water', 'groceries', 'loans', 'rent/mortgage', 'savings', 'entertainment' ect. Some weeks I could only put a dollar in the envelopes marked savings and entertainment but it was important that something was saved, and something for 'crazy' money was put aside. He also learned from me that credit is a bad thing, something to avoid, and that paying cash is the surest way to peace of mind. Here's a link to a great page on frugal living, including creating a first time budget:
Finally, the third thing I taught him was to use thrift stores as the second Go-To shopping place. He buys nearly all of his clothing (except socks, undershorts, and shoes) from second-hand shops, and has an enviable wardrobe-he has a cashmere overcoat that keeps him very warm, for example, that he found several years ago for $5 in the Goodwill.
All of his furniture (except his bed) came from the thrift stores, and he found pots, pans, other kitchen equipment in those stores too. He disinfects every thing especially upholstered furniture as you have to be careful of fleas, bed bugs, and lice in those things. But the quality of the second hand goods is often higher than some 'budget' item bought new because it is true that 'They don't make 'em like they used to!". It's well worth the effort!
A good example is his Pyrex brand glass baking dishes, the new ones are made using a different material and processing and they are 'exploding' all over the world. But his are the vintage models made in the 70s judging from the patterns, and go straight from the freezer to the conventional or microwave oven to the dinner table in perfect safety. Also, he found a complete set of US made stainless steel pots and pans - wow!
Something else he uses to keep his costs under control is the library-books to read or listen to, movies to watch on the laptop, free Internet, interesting lecture series - the library is a great place for all kinds of free stuff!
Starting out on your own is exciting and terrifying at the same time. Good luck, and please keep us updated on how things are going for you!
To help save money and give you something to do, you could both try growing a few veggies. Start with lettuce, spinach, tomato, cucumber. With a little attention these could bring healthy rewards.
Gardening is a very cost-effective and relaxing hobby for you both. Working together in the garden can be a good way to regularly stay in touch with your son without being intrusive.
When I had my first job I didn't make much but my father took my salary of $200.00 for the month and invested it. He gave me a paper instead of my salary and I was angry. I wanted to buy clothes. Now I am a senior and the $200.00 he invested in the stock market really amounted to a large amount.
Thinking about it now I realize I could of blown the $200.00 on clothes but look what I have now from this investment.
My advise is really very important, The earlier you invest the better. This is not a joke. Investing later in life does not get you what you could of done if investing at a younger age. That is the secret. Even though you want things now, please think of the future. This trick could really mean something to all young people.
I am now wise regarding this. Take my advise.