Teen Report: Spend or Save?

American teens are having a positive impact on the U.S. economy. In recent years total spending by teenagers in this country has jumped 47 percent from $122 to $169 billion spent annually.

Caitlyn Smith, a retail store manager, said, "We definitely try to market to teens. They're one of our main groups, our focus, because we know they're great back to school shoppers and bring us a lot of business and income."

$125 billion of the money teens are spending comes from their own income, though parents enjoy spending money on their teens too, nearly $278 billion annually.

Teenage research unlimited estimates that the average American family will spend more than $500 on back to school shopping this year. However, while teenagers are big spenders, they are big savers as well. A 2003 study by Nickelodeon, MTV, and Harris Interactive found that 13-to-24-year-olds save around 25 percent of their income, although teenagers still find ways to spend their extra money on leisure activities.

Ashley Williams said, "My friends and I were at the movies, eating out a lot and you know, everything that kids do."

Their dollars go further than might be expected as teenagers also pay sales, payroll, and gas taxes. This money goes far to saturate both the national and local economies, as well as making for some very savvy, stylish teens heading back to school.

Annual spending by American teens alone exceeds spending by all segments of the population in some smaller countries including Finland, Denmark, Norway and Greece.