An article in the Business section of Sunday's Chicago Tribune showed that we are nowhere near learning our lessons from the credit crunch and the economic downturn. The article detailed how businesses catering to teenagers have been largely unaffected by the recession.
Stores selling "teen fashion" like The Buckle saw an increase in sales and profits during the third quarter--unlike many other retailers--including discounters like Target and Kohl's. The article also pointed out that sales of IPods, IPhones and other personal electronic devices have seen little dropoff in sales--despite the difficult economy.
What was most distressing in the article were the interviews with parents who refused to cut back their spending on their kids--despite a loss of income or higher prices for necessities like food and utilities. One mother didn't want her teen to know that the family was struggling--and how it was important they still have "cool" clothes like their friends. The first line of the story quoted a teen who didn't even know what the word "recession" means.
Isn't this how we got ourselves into this mess? Keeping up with the Joneses...spending money we don't have...placing priorities on material things instead of the basics? Now that the chickens have come home to roost--we still live in denial. And continuing to send the message that "you deserve everything you want as soon as you want it even though we really can't afford it and we are mortgaging your future to get it for you" just keeps us spriralling further into the abyss.
You know how everyone complains that schools don't teach enough about personal finance? Well here's a terrific teaching opportunity for parents in their own homes. "Son/Daughter we don't have as much money to spend--or we are no longer going into debt to buy you junk that you don't really appreciate anyway. If you want the latest electronic gizmos or gas for your car you can go out and get a job to pay cash for it."
There were a few teens quoted in the story as saying they were cutting back on their spending--if only because their parents were giving them less. Apparently, they weren't able to find anyone in The Buckle or the IStore who said they were putting all of their money toward paying for college. That's an answer that would have shown some hope for the future generation.