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December 10, 2008

Teenagers Don't Get It Yet

J0412182 Financially speaking, most of us are worth less today than we were 2 months ago, and certainly less than a year ago.  Even age-old institutions like Harvard are suffering because their  large endowments have been kept in the same financial houses that have failed us all.  Those of us who are a little older, "50-Something", worry because we don't have 50 more years before retirement to make up for our losses.  We are wondering how we will send our kids off to college and then retire.  Retire?  We may never.

But, I don't think our teenagers "get it".  I"m not talking about mine particularly, but all of them.  In a recent  "Teen Holiday Spending" poll conducted by the National Junior Achievement organization, more than three quarters of teens surveyed (76%) plan to spend as much - or more - this year than last year on holiday gifts.  Are they in denial or has the impact of the current financial crisis not yet trickled down to their wallets?  Another key finding revealed that 47% of teens surveyed said they'd spend at least $100 on gifts, a 4% increase over last year.  And, of those who said they'd spend at least some money on holiday gifts, 87% said they'd use their own money, 49% said they'd use money given to them by a parent, 19% said they'd use their parents' debit/ credit card (YIKES!), and 16% said they'd use their own debit/credit card.

On a recent visit to the mall to buy a "necessary" item, I noticed a high percentage of teenage shoppers.  Teenagers usually DO frequent the mall more than most because they use it for socializing, but I also saw lots of shopping bags.  I've read a lot of advice recently about how to talk to teenagers about financial strains within families.  But, I have yet to hear a parent say,"I told my son/daughter they would have to choose this year between a and b because we are on a budget".  OR..."As a family, we are no longer using credit, only cash for our purchases", OR "if you want to drive the car, you have to pay to fill it up."

If you think about it, teenagers represent exactly where we stand as a society - still in denial.  Until they are put on a budget, denied "extras", asked to work...our society will continue to raise consumers hell-bent on spending and that's what got us in this mess to begin with.

Myrna also blogs at: 
This is an Original 50-something Moms post


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