What Teens Really Think About Money

Photo (cc) by Pink Sherbet Photography

“You’ve been a malignant tumor upon the lives of my family and friends,” says Justina Tran, a 17-year-old student at Garden Grove High School in Garden Grove, Calif. “I hate that my family talks about you more than anything else – they even worry about you. You’ve put my family through a lot, you know.”

Who’s Justina talking about? Money.

“I don’t expect you to apologize, but you could at least compensate us with your presence more often,” Justina wrote in the first-place entry in last month’s college writing contest sponsored by a writing website called Stage of Life. The site sponsors writing contests on a myriad of topics, ranging from “What stresses you out?” to “What is the value of marriage?” In December, the contest was “What is your relationship with money?”

More than 3,300 students from all 50 states entered. Here are some illuminating excerpts…

  • “I have been rather careless about money. I never had to really care, it was always there. Until sadly, my parents separated for some time, then I really had to take care of money. I became aware of how much everything costs and how much I could really spend. I realized I had no clue about what money really means.”
  • “When I was little, everyone thought you were one rich kids if you had a five dollar bill. I mean, you could buy about five candy bars with that kind of money. But as I got older, things that I wanted started getting more and more expensive…computers, cell phones, iPod’s, and designer everything.”
  • “Why do banks basically pay you to borrow money to give to other people?? I mean, why the middle man? Wouldn’t it just make more sense if people all just loaned money to other people? But then I got to thinking about how governments play their role in the banking system. Well, lets just say that I got even more confused.”
  • “I look at some of the teenagers in my school and see how spoiled they are. I hear girls talk extremely foully of their mothers because they cannot have the latest, most expensive accessories. I wonder why they cannot see all the lavish articles they have, and I have come to realize the answer is money. Money blinds people; it makes them oblivious to their surroundings. In a way, it is like an addictive drug; the user cannot survive without it.”

So what did the winners receive? Ironically, not money. Justina received a T-shirt, a pen, and a $25 Kodak gift certificate.

Teaching kids about money is obviously an important part of raising them, and we’ve done several stories that could help, like How to Teach Your Teens to Avoid Debt and 5 Money Related Gifts For Kids.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
8 Ways to Slash the Cost of Homeowners Insurance
8 Ways to Slash the Cost of Homeowners Insurance

Reviewing this critical insurance policy takes a little effort, but it pays off big.

10 Ways Retailers Trick You Into Spending More
10 Ways Retailers Trick You Into Spending More

Think you’re a savvy shopper? Find out how retailers persuade you to dig more deeply into your wallet.

How to Buy a Refrigerator, Step by Step
How to Buy a Refrigerator, Step by Step

Here’s how I got the perfect appliance at the perfect price.

Retiree Households Lose $111,000 to This Social Security Misstep
Retiree Households Lose $111,000 to This Social Security Misstep

A study finds 96% of retirees make this mistake when claiming Social Security benefits.

Top 5 Activities That People Dream of Doing in Retirement
Top 5 Activities That People Dream of Doing in Retirement

No. 1 isn’t visiting grandkids, and No. 4 might surprise you.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco

Even if it seems you save a bundle buying Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand products, they may not be the bargain they appear to be.

Am I Eligible for My Mother’s Social Security Benefit?
Am I Eligible for My Mother’s Social Security Benefit?

Can an adult daughter tap into her late mother’s benefit?

9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again

The warehouse store offers an enormous selection, but these products aren’t coming back.

These Major Appliances Got the Worst Reviews in 2020
These Major Appliances Got the Worst Reviews in 2020

Consumer Reports says these home products got the worst ratings from experts.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

This Surprise Factor Can Raise Your Risk of Dementia
This Surprise Factor Can Raise Your Risk of Dementia

Nearly half of U.S. residents may face this threat.

Organize Your Home With These 10 Thrift Store Finds
Organize Your Home With These 10 Thrift Store Finds

Resolve to be clutter-free in 2021 with these secondhand purchases.

11 Laws You Could Be Breaking Without Knowing It
11 Laws You Could Be Breaking Without Knowing It

Seriously? Fibbing about the weather is a crime? This and other little-known legal traps await the unwary.

Is This Treatable Condition Causing Your High Blood Pressure?
Is This Treatable Condition Causing Your High Blood Pressure?

Researchers say too many doctors are overlooking this potential source of hypertension.

These Are the 3 Best Used Cars You Can Buy
These Are the 3 Best Used Cars You Can Buy

These vehicles boast reliability, safety and long-lasting value.

13 Things Seniors Can Get for Free — or Almost Free
13 Things Seniors Can Get for Free — or Almost Free

There are many ways to get cheap or free services and goods after reaching a certain age.

6 Legal Documents Retirees Need — but Don’t Have
6 Legal Documents Retirees Need — but Don’t Have

Few retirees have all of these documents that are crucial to their golden years — especially during a pandemic.

3 Cable TV Companies Hiking Prices for 2021
3 Cable TV Companies Hiking Prices for 2021

Still married to your cable company? Hold on to your wallet!

Internet Providers Can’t Charge You for This Anymore
Internet Providers Can’t Charge You for This Anymore

Starting this month, your ISP no longer can bill you for this fee.

15 States With the Largest Homeless Populations
15 States With the Largest Homeless Populations

Some of the states with the highest rates of homelessness might surprise you.

11 Generic Products You Should Buy at Costco
11 Generic Products You Should Buy at Costco

Not all generics are worthwhile, but these are among the best from Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand.

8 Tips for Retiring Comfortably on Social Security Alone
8 Tips for Retiring Comfortably on Social Security Alone

It’s never too early to start learning how to live well while living on less.

15 Painless Ways You Can Cut Costs in 2021
15 Painless Ways You Can Cut Costs in 2021

Follow these tips to save, so you’ll have money for things that really matter.

9 Small Expenses That Are Bleeding Your Budget Dry
9 Small Expenses That Are Bleeding Your Budget Dry

Keep more of future paychecks by eliminating these budget-busting unnecessary expenses.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.