Are teenagers learning from the recession?

With many families being forced to tighten their belts as Britain’s economy has shrunk for the fifth quarter in a row, are today’s teens taking note and becoming more financially aware?

 

A quick analysis of teenagers spending habits reveals that they have not cut back during the recession despite having less pocket money as a result of their parents financial difficulties. There are also less part time jobs suited to teenagers available, putting further pressure on teen spending.

 

Despite this, high street retailers aimed at the younger demographic such as Primark, New Look, H&M, Asos and Hot Topic are flourishing while stores aimed at the older market are struggling through the recession.

 

At one school in West Sussex where financial awareness classes have been introduced, a quick survey revealed that the average pupil has £35 a week to spend. The main areas where they spend their money are trips to cinemas, bowling alleys, restaurants and clubs, shopping for new clothes, buying music and mobile phones, and for many over 17, owning their own car.

 

While the students welcome the money management course which they have been taking, it seems that their attitudes to money have not changed. “When I get paid it all tends to go in the first week,” said one 17 year old boy, while his friend sums up their general attitude to shopping “If there’s something I want, I’ll buy it,” she says.

 

The class discussed their experience of the recession and their attitude to money:

 

“We’re very, very consumerist,” says one girl.

“We know how to spend money. If we could have a credit card, we would spend money on it.”

“So its essential we’re getting taught now how to manage our money because otherwise we will get into more trouble than the generation above us.”

Her friend agrees.

“You see the struggle your parents go through,” she says.

“You hear all the time, ‘it’s the credit crunch and it seems so scary’, but it is manageable and the whole credit crunch has opened up the idea of managing your money to teenagers.”

“You can’t avoid it. That and the struggle we see our parents go through is enough to ward us off.”

Another classmate shares their concerns.

“I’m aware a credit card is a bad idea, but I am tempted,” he says.

“I’ve seen the hazards of borrowing money and being in debt, but at the same time I’ve seen how my parents have dealt with it, so it hasn’t put me off borrowing.”

 

Although today’s teens are undoubtedly massive consumers, they are also experts at hunting down a good deal thanks to the rise of the internet. According to a recent poll, almost half of parents would consult their teenagers when making a purchase such as a mobile phone contract, a laptop or a cheap holiday.

 

One father of two teenagers says: “Whenever we buy anything like that we ask them,” says Mr Marsh.

“Recently my wife bought a netbook computer, so she talked to the girls about the best one to get.

“Then they looked at price. They spent hours searching on the internet for the right value. They’re very good at that kind of stuff.”

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