Teen Spending Habits

Teen Spending Habits

Emma Hutchinson, Mirada Staff

The average teen spends $2,600 a year–mostly on food and clothing–but they are also saving more money earlier on in life than ever before.

The top priorities for teens when they are deciding what to buy and where to shop are authenticity, speed, and quality, according to the annual survey of teen spending habits conducted by Piper Jaffray.  Social media increased both the speed at which teens receive their products and information as well as the amount that they are able to find out about their favorite brands. 

Teens look for brands that support the causes they’re passionate about, or are known for being more ethical. With more brands available and increasing competition, teens look for quality products at the best value, trying more than ever to get the best “bang for their buck.” 

Teens who grew up in the digital age, are quick to drop brands with slow service, or glitchy websites, and turn to online shopping or mobile ordering to avoid lines at their favorite stores. 

The dominant spending category for teens was food. Nationwide, teens’ favorite restaurants included Starbucks, Chipotle and Chick-fil-A. 

Food was the biggest expense for teenage boys, and was second for girls, behind beauty and cosmetic purchases. 

Other major expenses for teens were entertainment, transportation, and clothing from top brands like Nike, Amazon, Michael Kors, Gucci, Vans, Sephora, and Tarte. 

Junior Molly Ford’s spending habits matched up with some of these but some were different.
“I spend most of my money on clothes, concerts, and food,” Ford said. 

60 percent of students relied on gifts for spending money, 32 percent received an allowance, and 22 percent of teens earned their spending money by working a job. Not all of the money that students earned was spent however, increases were also seen in their saving habits. 

With increased concerns about the price of a college education, and independent housing, teens are saving money at an earlier age and showing increased concern for their financial stability. 

The top financial concerns of teens are paying for college, paying taxes, and not being able to live on their own, according to a study by Junior Achievement and their top goals were getting a four-year degree, getting a full time job, and not needing financial support from parents or caregivers. 

Ford said she saves some money but also isn’t afraid to spend. “I like to keep all of my money in my savings and only take it out if I really want something or just spend cash,” Ford said. 

Over the years, teens have gained spending power in the economy, and with that, their spending habits have also evolved to encompass everything from food to clothing to entertainment and transportation. Where will the digital age take spending in the coming years?