The cost of staying current

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By: Erin Lowe <elowe@hilite.org>

Walking down the hallway, junior Alixandra “Ali” Decaudin notices two other girls wearing Ugg boots. She herself has a pair of brown Ugg boots, but Decaudin said she does not know what to think about all of these trends. “Some of these trends are new like Ugg boots,” she said. “However, there are also dated fashions like leggings and skinny jeans that have been brought back.”

Every era is characterized by certain trends going, back to the elaborate gowns of the Victorian age. The 1920s brought the flapper style while the 1960s brought the miniskirt. Every decade has added something new to the mix. In the 21st century, trends are not only growing but trying to keep up with them has become increasingly more expensive.

According to personal finance teacher, Irene Farrell, this has become a real problem for teenagers because companies market expensive products like iPods and Ugg boots to them more than any other age group.

“Teenagers are heavily marketed to,” Farrell said. “In 2006, teenagers alone spent $129 billion. As an age group, they are really being hit at a time when they are learning how to manage their money properly.”

Compounded with the ordeal of trying to learn how to manage money, adolescents are the group most susceptible to following trends. “I think everyone follows trends or at least they follow some part of the trends,” Decaudin said, “A lot of people right now are really into Uggs, leggings, skinny jeans, the iTouch, the iPhone and laptops. I really don’t care about keeping up with trends though.”

According to Farrell, teenagers need to decide for themselves whether the item that they are buying is really worth the money. “My advice would be if you really want the product, research it and wait to see if it is worth the price that you will spend on it,” Farrell said.

“I think keeping up with trends is worth it,” Decaudin said. “I mean Uggs are expensive but I buy them anyway. Some jeans can be expensive too. I just think it is expensive to keep up with trends in general.”

A pair of Ugg boots, which is extremely popular, can cost anywhere from $120 to $325. A pair of jeans can be anywhere from $25 to $90, yet teenagers still buy these products in mass.

Farrell said she recommends several ways to deal with overspending. “ I think each student needs to set a savings goal for themselves. If they have a job, they should take a certain percentage of each paycheck and commit to not spend it,” Farrell said. “ If you want to start slow, you can also start a budget and spending journal. However, those are kind of like diets. They work for a while but many times, people will forget to record in them. I think those usually work for people that do not give much thought to what they buy.”

However, Farrell said she understands that saving is hard. “It is difficult to save because we are such a consumption-oriented society,” she said. According to Farrell, it is all about moderation. “I think students should be able to treat themselves once in a while. But at the same time, they need to be aware of how much they are spending. When it comes to spending, everyone makes mistakes but if teenagers can learn from them, they (mistakes) are the biggest teachers.

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