What students are spending their money on

Elijah Carrera Co-Editor in Chief

According to Lexington Law, the 27.7 million teenagers in the United States annually spend an estimated $63 billion. Teenagers mostly spend their earnings on clothing and food items. Sophomore Shawn Graham is currently employed at Target, and this is what he spends with his paychecks.

“Immediately when I get my paycheck, half goes into a big savings account for college or a car. Another portion goes into smaller savings that are for purchases like a TV, or a console, etc.,” Graham said. “The portion remaining is for random wants. If there is money left at the end of the month, it goes into the big savings account.”

Summit Federal Credit Union has general tips for what teenagers should do with their money, which include recommendations such as opening a checking account, using a debit card, and using a budget app. Business instructor Paul Hamilton agrees with these suggestions to a great extent.

“Students that earn income should have a budget. Always pay yourself first; this could be a savings account with your bank, opening up an IRA, or helping a parent/guardian contribute to a college savings plan,” Hamilton said. “If they have money left over, then they can go purchase those new shoes that they can’t live without.”

According to Lexington Law,  statistics on financial goals and concerns are listed as follows: 64% of teens look to their parents or guardians for financial advice, 56 % of teens believe the economy is getting worse, and 8 out of 10 teenagers describe themselves as responsible with their money. Business Instructor Joshua Schiefelbien teaches personal finance, and has firsthand knowledge of how students manage their money.

“When I talk about budgeting in my Personal Finance and Career Development class, a lot of my students spend all of their paycheck and don’t budget at all,” Schiefelbien said. “This could be because their parents will help them out if they run out of money, or they haven’t really thought about budgeting their money.”

When becoming more financially independent, some teenagers come to value their money more. Knowing that they do not have their parents’ money to fall back on makes them more mindful of their expenditures.

“I definitely think that I have begun to value my money more since I got a job,” Graham said. “Purchases in general, especially big ones, come with a lot more thought and debating than before, so I can make sure that I won’t regret the purchase later on.” 

On the opposite side of the spectrum, some come to value their money less due to the fact there is more of it coming around. Senior Melannie Gonzalez is a manager at Wendy’s and has more money now that she has increased responsibility at work.

“Before I started working I would only get money on special occasions and knew I’d have to spend it wisely so it lasted until the next special occasion. Now that I work, I know that as long as I keep working I’ll get a check every two weeks and have a never ending flow of money,” Gonzalez said.

How someone chooses to spend their money depends on several factors. While teenagers can be influenced by family, friends, and the consumerist society around them, there are resources available dedicated to assisting those on their financial literacy journey.

“Taking Personal Finance classes seriously, asking questions to people with experience, and using free resources out there like YouTube that have many videos on how to set yourself up for success financially,” Schieffelbien said.