Heyday On Payday

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As disturbing as after-school work may be to teachers, equally irksome is what happens to all that money students earn once the paycheck is cashed. The average "little businessperson" rakes in $60 to $75 a week.

Many families can't squeeze enough income from the monthly budget to cover the luxuries—from $7 movie tickets to $60 jeans—that kids are calling necessities today, so parents often give their blessing to part-time jobs, notes Ivan Charner of the National Institute for Work and Learning. And although working teens do try to squirrel away money for college, not much will make it to a university bursar's office. By far the largest portion of their pay goes to corporations such as Nike, Guess?, Nissan, and Honda. As one senior who works as a sales clerk put it, "My mom pays for my needs, but I pay for my wants."

Those "wants" include big-ticket items such as cars and compact disc players. Many kids have even learned to "master the possibilities" with their own credit cards. This has fueled the charge that working only encourages runaway materialism. It has also prompted sociologist Jerald Bachman to coin the term "premature affluence"—or, more simply, too much money too soon.

Bachman has warned that it may be all glory days for teenagers while they live with and are supported by their parents, but when these big spenders leave home and enter the workforce as adults, they're in for a rude awakening: When rent and utility bills come pouring in, they discover their income is suddenly anything but discretionary.

Vol. 01, Issue 04, Page 38

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