The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

Trickle-down effect hits teens

By Derek Schlom


hey may not be the victims of predator lenders or work for an imploding brokerage firm, but teenagers, regardless of their family’s income or level of affluence, are also feeling the pinch of the struggling economy in the wake of the subprime mortgage crisis. The 18-and-under set has been forced to endure a reduction in spending – that means fewer dinners out, buying in bulk and (gasp!) even curbing that addiction to cups of expensive morning Joe.

While most students here are not exactly making do with the bare essentials, each person interviewed for this story admitted to cutting down on unnecessary luxury purchases in the past several months, and many claimed stock losses.

Olivia Van Iderstine ’10, for one, has been forced to put her caffeine habit in check.

“A large coffee is $4 and I go to Starbucks constantly, so it adds up,” she said. “I just have to wonder if it’s worth it and prudent with the state of the economy to be indulging in venti lattes.”

For the most part, the crisis has caused a reassessment of the way that teenagers are spending money – most students said that their families have not been affected in a drastic way, but that they, either on their own accord or at the behest of their parents, are preparing for a scenario in which the current economic downturn worsens.

For some, this has been an impetus to either find a job or to maintain a current job for some extra spending money or to contribute to the family pot.

Jacquelyn Jasuta ’10 works, alternately, at a snack stand during Manhattan Beach Little League games, at Hammerheads Beach Camp, as a referee for the Southern California Volleyball Association, and as a babysitter.

“Ever since I can remember I’ve been very conscious about how I spend money,” she said. “I’m a saver.”

Although Jasuta said that she now watches her bank account closely and sets a monthly spending limit, the cash she earns from her jobs is mostly for peace of mind as the Dow Jones Industrial Average continues to ebb and peak.

“I don’t feel responsible to help pay for electrical or water bills or anything, but now I don’t mind covering some of the stuff I consider my parents responsible for,” she said.

“I pay for a lot of things I would never think to pay for myself even last year.”

Ingenuity like Jasuta’s can have its benefits as the nation tightens its collective purse strings. Brooke Pechman ’11 said that secondhand stores and vintage boutiques have been her saving grace at a time when a Neiman Marcus spending spree à la Sarah Palin just isn’t sensible.

“I like the Crossroads Trading Company,” Pechman said. “Instead of buying new clothes, I try to trade mine for something if I can.”

For Olivia Kestin ’09, the economic crisis means more meals at the kitchen table than at restaurants.

“As a family we try and cut back spending – just less going out to dinner or picking up and more cooking and eating at home, for example,” she said.

Kimberly Wang ’09 said that, ironically, the depressed economy couldn’t have come at a better time: “I’ve been trying to not eat out as much, but with the college process going on simultaneously it’s not that hard to stay at home.”

Beyond its effect on credit card use, the financial situation has been a hot topic on campus. Sara Fleischman ’09 said that the causes and effects of the crisis are often discussed in her AP Economics class.

“People are just curious to understand and learn more,” she said.

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Trickle-down effect hits teens