Teen Spending

Teen spending is playing a bigger and bigger role in the U.S. economy. Teenagers have money and they are spending it.

Seventeen Spending Teen Survey

A survey by Seventeen magazine in 2009 reveals some startling statistics about teen money management. Here are some of the highlights:

Teen Spending

  • Despite the recession, 75% of teens are receiving the same or more spending money this year than last year.
  • While 2 in 5 have "not been affected" by the recession, 28% say they are "receiving less spending money" and 35% say they have been "affected in another way" than the options listed.
  • About half of teens earn money, although 21% qualify themselves as "unemployed" vs. "choosing not to work."
  • Teens choose the tangibles: 75% would choose a new pair of shoes over 50 new MP3 downloads, and 63% would choose a new pair of jeans over tickets to a concert.
  • Teens want to look good no matter what: nearly three-quarters are spending the same or more this year on either cosmetics (70%), clothing (72%), hair products (71%) or skin care (74%).
  • Teens are not shopping less, shopping smarter. (Teen budget anyone?) 55% teens say they are waiting for items to go on sale, 50% are making fewer "impulse purchases" and 42% are more likely to "comparison shop for the best price." Only 22% said that the economy has "little to no affect" on their shopping behaviors.
  • Saving is nothing new. While 40% teens report that they were already saving, 24% say they are now saving more. 21% are not saving.
  • Working teens are saving up for the three Cs: clothes (57%), college (54%) and a car (38%).

In an interview on Oprah Radio, Seventeen magazine's Ann Shoket revealed more about teen consumer spending habits. If given the choice between $1,000 and hanging out with the Jonas Brothers, 94% of Seventeen female readers chose the $1,000. Smart choice girls!

Another teen spending trend is demonstrated in that if offered $10,000 to break up with their boyfriends, 27% of those polled would break up to get the $10,000.

In the same interview teens and credit cards were also discussed.

Past Teen Spending Habits

Lester Rand, president of the Rand Youth Poll, reports spending by teenagers increased every year from 1953 to 1996 despite eight recessions and the drop in the size of the group when Generation X was in its teen years.

Clothing accounts for the biggest chunk of spending by teens, at 34%. Entertainment places second, at 22%, and food is third, at 16%.

In a 2007 article by marketingvox, according to Packaged Facts, teen spending was $189.7 billion in 2006 and will be $208.7 billion by 2011. This is despite a 3% decline in the 12-17-year-old population over the same time period. Other statistics on teen spending include:

  • Teen spending money, accumulated through teen finance jobs, allowances, "as needed" money from parents, and gifts, will increase an estimated 3.5% annually, raising the aggregate teen income 14.4%, from $79.7 billion in 2006 to $91.1 billion in 2011.
  • Packaged Facts estimates that 12-14-year-olds have an average annual income of $2,167; teens in the 15-17-year-old age group generate an average annual income of $4,023.
  • The amount of money families spend on teens for food, apparel, personal-care items, and entertainment is expected to grow approximately 7%, from $110 billion in 2006 to $117.6 billion in 2011.
  • More than half (51.6%) of the teens surveyed said the Internet has changed the way they spend their free time.
  • More than 90% use a computer either at home or at school.

It is easy to see why teenagers money management is important.

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