MintFamily with Beth Kobliner: Are Your Kids Riding the En-tidal-ment Wave? Part 1

Family Finances Are Your Kids Riding the En-tidal-ment Wave?

As a parent, you’re not alone if you find yourself in shock and awe over all the stuff your kids possess. I mean seriously, would you ever have imagined having that much when you were a kid?

I’m not just talking BlackBerries, iPhones, and DROIDs. Nor am I simply targeting Xboxes, iPads, apps, Wii, and Game Boys. I get that there have been huge technological leaps and stuff happens.

But when you add other stuff to the high tech stuff, it brings clutter to a whole new level.

It’s flat irons and “product” ad nauseam to get hair salon-level straight. It’s prepubescent palate expanders and multi-colored braces to get teeth toothpaste-commercial straight.

It’s Under Armour and Axe for teen boys. And don’t even get me started on lines of lingerie specifically for teenagers.

The spending power of teens.

Collectively, teens have the potential to spend nearly $918 million each week, according to a recent study from market research firm Mintel. And teens fuel the trends which stoke the stuff-buying feedback wildfire.

This rant makes me sound very old. But I am ready to assert that with age comes wisdom, and I will own this. No matter how much money you have—or don’t have—kids’ stuff is pretty much out of control.

And even if you don’t agree with everything I’m saying, I bet you can certainly relate to some of it.

The parent’s role.

My point? I think a lot about what it all means and whether this kind of stuff feeds into a materialistic focus that’s harmful for future generations.

What do our kids value and why? Are they simply modeling what *we* value? As parents, what’s our role in all this? Is it possible to teach family values but still live in a stuff-and-gatherer society?

Sure there were those parents in the ‘70’s who felt that Jordache jeans and Nike High Tops signaled the end of decent civilization as they knew it.

But there’s something about the way kids intensely covet and revere stuff these days that feels different to me.

Am I alone here? I want to know your thoughts. And for next time: I’m talking to a mom who has the answer!

© 2013 Beth Kobliner, All Rights Reserved

Beth Kobliner is a personal finance commentator and journalist, the author of the New York Times bestseller “Get a Financial Life: Personal Finance in Your Twenties and Thirties,” and a member of the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability. Visit her at, follow her on Twitter, and like her on Facebook.


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