Dear Mr. Morton,
Our teen, age 16, earns money by babysitting. Trouble is, she spends her money like a drunken sailor on a weekend furlough. Designer jeans and tennis shoes are in for her! Any thoughts on how we can teach her to be thriftier? — Frustrated Parents
Dear Frustrated Parents,
America’s 16 million teens used to spend more than $93 billion each year, but in today’s economy, the “Fly Now-Pay Later” era is officially terminated in many households.
I would teach your teen to save more before she ends up flying by the seat of her high-priced jeans. Encourage her to buy some used jeans at the thrift shop, then rip, tear, and fade them in the washer. They’ll look right off the shelf from Roberto Cavalli’s boutique.
In an age where our government can’t even save Social Security and Medicare, it may be difficult to teach her how to save.
Try to reason with her, but the only thing she may want to save is an hour during daylight savings time. Teens crave the feeling of independence, and her making money and spending it on her own may be a strong drive.
You’re not alone! Robert Manning, several years ago, cited young adults under age 25 as the most rapidly growing group of bankruptcy filers. By the way, Manning authored the book, “Credit Card Nation.” I guess they didn’t learn good money management as teens.
But, hope lurks on the horizon! According to a recent Seventeen magazine poll, teens are shopping smarter: 55 percent wait for items to go on sale, half make fewer “impulse purchases,” and 42 percent do comparison shopping for best prices. Only 22 percent said the economy had no affect on their shopping behaviors.
Robert Morton is a former school psychologist and adjunct professor in the School of Leadership and Policy Studies at Bowling Green State University.