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Is Your Teen's Shopping Habit Out of Control?

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Teens, and adults, can spend hundreds of dollars online without blinking an eye. Parents who are more conservative with their purchases may view their teen's shopping habits as being "out of control." But when does normal shopping turn into an out-of-control spending habit?

Mintel claims that 33% of Americans shop only weekly, with 69% shopping online at least once a week.

Women spend 400 hours per year shopping, according to the NY Daily News. And when talking to kids, especially girls between the ages of 13 and 18, shopping is a favorite pastime.

So, if your teen is shopping often, it's not uncommon. Kids view shopping as a hobby. A lot of teens, more than a third, claim that shopping makes them feel better than a workout. Retail therapy was cited by 95% of teens as a reason why they shop often.

Teens live in an online world, and their shopping habits may surprise you. A recent study from a Minneapolis investment bank found that teens are:

  • Spending less. Teen expenditures have fallen 2.4% year-over-year.

  • Parental contribution to teen spending is also down 63%.

  • Amazon remains the top choice for more than 40% of teens.

While there shopping sites that accept PayPal, Apple Pay and other easy methods of making payments for goods, kids are moving away from clothing being their main form of spending. Food is now the most important purchase to teens, with 24% of spending going towards food expenditures.

Clothing accounts for 19% of expenditures.

Teens are shifting their spending from retail to experiences, with many teens choosing to spend their money on leisure, video games and eating out with friends.

How Much Spending is "Normal?"

That depends on income. Upper income children spend as much as $1,100 on clothing per year. Prom costs have actually gone down, but the cost is still very high. The average teen spent $978 on their high school prom, but this figure was over $1,100 in 2013.

And bad habits start early.

What's more interesting is that teens between the age of 15 and 17 earn nearly $5,000 per year, and this figure is double that of kids 13 and 14 years old. Holding a part-time job helps kids pay for many of their own items, but an issue is that kids are outspending what they earn.

The good news is that teens aren't afraid to be frugal, and teens will look for deals to save money.

Saving money for a car is what 36% of teens are choosing to do.

So, if your teen's spending habits are aligned with the statistics above, they're in the "normal" spending range.

A good rule of thumb to follow is that your teen should not spend more than they earn. Bad spending habits as teens can lead to credit card debt when they enter their 20s. Parents should teach their teens proper spending habits and limit spending.

Encourage your kids to save, not use credit cards and make smart purchasing decisions rather than impulse shop. If you teach a teen how to budget when they're younger, they'll have a much easier time controlling their spending as they transition into adulthood.

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