The Spending Habits of Modern Teens

According to Stage of Life, 27% of teenagers have jobs in the United States. That’s 10% less working teenagers than there were five years ago and about 20% less of employed teens than there was 30 years ago. Teenagers with jobs have become a rarity. In fact, 65% of high school students admit to using their parents money to go shopping.

What are teenagers spending this money on? According to Credit Donkey, the most popular items bought by teenagers are clothing and food. However, 57% of teens are saving their money for a car, prom, or college. While many teens are saving money, 87% of teens claimed to know little or nothing about saving/managing money. Some parents may teach their children something about managing money, but 12% of teenagers say they have gotten no parental advice on money whatsoever.

For teenagers who plan to go to college, money is already something they are stressing about. According to H&R Block’s 2014 report, 78% of teenagers are worried about drowning in student loans and debt. Nearly 6 in 10 fear they will end up financially worse off than their parents. In a 2014 Teen College Savings Barometer study, 93% of teenagers said saving money for college was important to them. Since 44% expect to pay for most of college tuition themselves, it would be a great idea for them to have jobs while they are still in high school.

Senior Joy Landolfi has worked part-time at Hannaford for almost a year. She claims to spend most of her money on food and clothing. Landolfi explained that there are pros and cons to having a job.

“A pro is being able to earn money to go out with my friends and do things,” she says. “A con is not having a lot of time to do things because I’ll be scheduled to work, and it may be on the same day I was planning to do something. It’s hard to make plans with my friends unless I take (a day) off in advance.”

Most teens don’t value money when they aren’t working for it. Landolfi says, “When I use my own money, I have to find a way to budget it so I’ll know I’ll have enough money to last me until the next pay day. I’ll need to save it for gas, food, tolls… When I used my parents’ money, I wouldn’t think about that because I didn’t have to pay them back for anything.”

Some teenagers worry that having a job while in high school will take over their life. According to Landolfi, that’s not exactly true.

“They’re really flexible with scheduling,” she says. “If it’s winter I get maybe two days a week for 3 hours but sometimes they’ll call me into work if they need people or if there’s a storm coming. In the summer I work a lot of 6-8 hour days five days a week.”


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