Do Teenagers Have a Spending Problem?

When Lunch Breaks The Bank

I don’t consider myself to be a “cheap” consumer but I do consider myself to be a “smart” consumer. Unlike a lot of kids my age–16–I am careful about how I spend.

Many Juniors and Seniors at my public high school in Boulder, Colorado go out to expensive lunches during the week.

There is a nearby shopping mall close to my high school that has quite a variety of dining options. The mall is about a fifteen minute walk away but most students tend to drive over. Whether students realize this or not, they are slowly using a lot of gas which adds up.

However, this isn’t even the main problem. In the shopping mall, there are two well-known and well-liked restaurants. There is Restaurant A, a traditional sit-down American restaurant where there is a wide variety of options. The prices vary. There are some expensive items on the menu but there are some low priced items as well. Most students choose to go to Restaurant A. I will admit, Restaurant A has really good food and I go to Restaurant A once every couple weeks.

When I go to Restaurant A, however, I make different choices. I usually order a chicken sandwich, which is $8 before tip and tax. Sometimes I’ll splurge and get a drink or some french fries. That comes to $11 after tip and tax. My peers on the other hand order 12 Chicken Wings, which are $15 pre-tip and tax. On top of that, they will order large french fries, which is $4, and a soda for a couple more dollars. This means most of my peers are spending around $20 per meal.

I prefer Restaurant B. Restaurant B is a bagel restaurant. You can get a filling bagel meat sandwich for $5. If you bring some snacks from your house for outside the restaurant, you have a perfectly filling and tasty lunch for $5! However, most students don’t go to Restaurant B for lunch.

This is just the beginning. A lot of students will drive out to farther places. There are more popular shopping malls with numerous good restaurants that are a 10-15 minute drive away. Teenagers will go out and get meals that are at least $20. What most teenagers don’t realize is that they are getting themselves into bad habits that could last for the rest of their lives. If they go out to lunch every day, and spend at least $20, that’s a minimum of $140 for lunch every single week!

Setting Bad Habits

Teenagers don’t only have a problem with spending lots of money on lunch, they have a spending problem in other areas. Teenagers spend a lot of money on clothes, for example.

I have heard of students specifically ordering a $25 baseball cap and paying for overnight shipping because they need a certain color hat for an event. That is just crazy!

Also, students pay a ridiculous amount of money for clothes by shopping at expensive stores. I think most of my peers believe that it is unacceptable or not cool to shop at places that offer discounted priced clothes.

A lot of students are using their parents’ money to pay for these sorts of things. They may think of this as “free money”, but they are unlikely to change their high-spending habits when they have to earn and spend their own money. Some of the students, like myself, have part-time jobs. Having a job is a good reality check. If I know it’ll take me an hour’s work to earn $10, I won’t go around wasting money when I can avoid it. Whether the students realize it or not, they are setting themselves up for future financial troubles.

Teenagers seem to be spending more and more money and I believe one of the main reasons is they feel like they have an endless supply of money from the Bank of Mom and Dad. Once they head off to college and are saddled with massive student debt, they will have to learn how to control their spending.

Impact Down The Road

I am genuinely concerned for most of my peers because they could wind up in a terrible financial situation say ten years down the road. They will have to come to the realization that there is not an endless supply of money for them to spend. Otherwise, they will be in debt for possibly the rest of their lives.

Think about it. If they are already spending $140 per week on lunch as a teenager, I can only imagine what their other expenses will be. I believe that most of my peers will choose to take out huge loans to buy an expensive house that is way out of their price range instead of settling for a more modest house where they are taking out less money or not borrowing any money at all.

Based on my observations, my generation seems to be developing some potentially dangerous spending habits. If kids continue to spend like they are now, a whole lot of them are going to be in serious financial trouble for the rest of their lives.

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