Article : The Economy and Our Youth

Date:2012-02-01 Author:Janice Thompson

One does not have to be an economist to realize the condition of our economy is not ideal. People all over the United States are struggling to make ends meet. This bleak setting has left many parents feeling helpless when faced with all of their financial responsibilities. While you may not be able to solve the economic recession, you can teach your children smart financial habits that will help them in the future.


One does not have to be an economist to realize the condition of our economy is not ideal. People all over the United States are struggling to make ends meet. This bleak setting has left many parents feeling helpless when faced with all of their financial responsibilities. While you may not be able to solve the economic recession, you can teach your children smart financial habits that will help them in the future.

The first thing to consider when teaching teens about economy is helping them recognize wants vs. needs. In today's society we often recognize class through fancy things. Celebrities and the media tell us what is in fashion, and like sheep we obey. This system of judgment, while superficial, continues to hold meaning in our society because we perpetuate it.

You may not be buying Brittney's new perfume for yourself but when was the last time you heard your teen say they "need" a trendier pair of pants or they will be made fun of at school? The truth is that while sixty-dollar jeans are fun to wear they are not always practical.

Realistically, there are a few things that children actually need in an economic sense. "Our needs are relatively few, even from birth. We don't need a lot of stuff, toys, gadgets, etc. We need shelter from the elements, clothing, food, love and understanding. We need friends and family around us" (1). A want is a different thing. It is something that sounds good to us. "A want is something you would like to have. It is not absolutely necessary, but it would be a good thing to have" (2).

As a parent, it is not always easy to teach children wants vs. needs. This could be for many reasons. Sometimes we feel that it is our job to give children everything you never had as a child. Perhaps you are a single or a working parent and you feel that giving your children things shows them how much you care. According to Arlene F. Harder this is not what is happening.

When parents give in to the "gimmies," the result is a generation of young people who very often have a variety of problems. For one thing, they tend to see themselves as consumers, rather than citizens of the world. They have a sense of entitlement not only to material possessions, but to having the "best" of everything. They define their worth (and the worth of others) in terms of what they own or what they are like to be able to have(3).

It may be hard at first to discuss wants and needs with your children, but the benefits of doing so will help them far into the future. Start now to help your children succeed financially.

Sources:

  1. https://www.accumulatingmoney.com/spending-money-needs-vs-wants/
  2. http://www.socialstudiesforkids.com/articles/economics/wantsandneeds1.htm 
  3. https://www.annualreviews.org/doi/abs/10.1146/annurev-psych-010213-115137