As soon as you enter your teens you start to be concerned about money. For the first few years of life, your needs are pretty well taken care of by your parents. If you want something you ask them to buy it for you or to give you the money for it. You’re more concerned about whether or not you can have something than where the money will come from for it. To some youngsters, parents seem to have an endless supply of money. Other children are given a part from a very young age in making family decisions about the spending of money. Regardless of what type of upbringing you have, in high school and college you probably have money problems. No matter how much money you get, it never seems to be enough.
Dr. Martin Bloom recently conducted a study of the money problems of 1,973 students from the 7th through the 12th grades. He found that “adolescents are very much concerned with the problem of obtaining money.” He reports that many of the adolescents he interviewed “had difficulty in keeping up with school expenses and personal grooming, and feel embarrassed because of lack of funds.” Dr. Bloom found that l0th-graders have the most money worries of all, but that older youth have money problems too. Many teen-agers wish that their school would give them more help with their personal financial problems. Some schools have banks that train students to develop a regular saving program for things that are important to them.
Students need money for many things. They often must provide for their own books and school expenses. They need money for school lunches and for after-school refreshments. Many teen-agers buy their own clothes and pay for practically all their own personal expenses. Most of all, dating takes up a major portion of the allowances of many young adults.
THE BOY PAYS …
Sometimes boys seem to spend a large proportion of their money on dating expenses. Many young men continually worry about where the money will come from for their next date. What if the girl wants to spend more than he can afford?
Actually, dates do not have to be more expensive than the boy can afford. What are some of the expenses the average young man has when he dates?
When a young man dates, the cost of transportation looms large. If he uses the family car, he is responsible for putting in gas and oil. If it’s his own car, he also may have to cover such expenses as repairs, maintenance, and insurance. He must either wash the car himself or pay to have it washed. Using a car is convenient but it’s not cheap.
If a fellow doesn’t have use of a car, he must use public transportation to and from his date’s home. If he’s within walking distance of her home, he still must pay transportation if they go out together. When she wears a formal, he feels that he must use a taxi to take her to and from the dance. If the couple picks places close enough to walk to, the expense will not be as great, but this is not always possible or even advisable.
Dating expenses just begin with transportation. The young man must almost always pay for entertainment on the date. At the movies he pays the admission charge. Most dances have entrance fees. Even many sports events at school cost money. Sometimes it’s hard to find activities that are not too expensive.
Mothers often remark that teen-agers seem to have a bottomless pit for a stomach. They are always hungry. Who knows this better than the teen-agers themselves who have to pay for the food consumed on dates? It’s not always possible to go home and raid the refrigerator after a date. Boys need money to buy Cokes for their dates and themselves after school. They want money to purchase popcorn and candy at the movies. Then after a movie or dance they often feel they must have money to suggest a hamburger or a malted. Every time his date says she is hungry, another large bite comes out of a boy’s allowance.
For Clothes and Grooming
Looking nice costs money also. The expenses incurred while dating must include money spent for clothes and grooming. Do you have to pay for having your suit cleaned before the next dance? What about shaving cream and deodorant? You may need to rent a tuxedo for the big prom. Did you have your hair cut before your last date? All of these expenses mount up.
THE GIRL SPENDS …
Some boys are amazed to hear that their dates also have money problems. They ask, “Why do girls need money? We pay all the dating expenses!” But actually, girls do have considerable expense when they go out with boys.
A boy can get by with one good suit. Wearing this suit with different shirts is all he really needs for almost any function that may come up. For many events a sport shirt and slacks is adequate.
Girls need many more clothes. Almost every girl would feel badly if she had only one dress to wear to every event. She wants a selection of dresses to choose from. Girls also need a larger variety of clothes than boys do. They need slacks or Bermudas for very informal occasions. They need blouses and skirts for weekday dates. They need “dressy” dresses for parties, and a formal for the big prom. Since girls’ sizes vary so much, it’s not always easy to borrow clothes from friends and relatives, although this is done sometimes for special occasions.
Girls usually need more money than boys do for grooming. Unless a girl sets her own hair she needs money for the beauty parlor. Even if she gives herself a home permanent she needs money for supplies. Girls are likely to use more expensive shampoos and face creams. Make-up is a constant expense. In general, the cost of keeping a girl looking attractive is more than that of keeping a boy looking neat.
Parties are more frequently given by girls than boys. Often the girl has to pay out of her allowance for the refreshments, games, and records. Although these parties may not occur as frequently as dates for which the boy pays, they generally cost more money than a regular date. When a boy takes out a girl he pays only for two. When a girl gives a party, she usually invites several other couples. Food costs alone can be great if she plans extensive refreshments.
HOW MUCH TO SPEND?
No one can tell you how much you should spend for a date. That is something you will have to decide in view of your entire situation. It may help to know what other teenagers do spend for dates. The range is wide. Some dates cost nothing, and some cost quite a lot of money. One fellow (formerly a member of the armed forces) reported that he once spent $300 on one date!
Dr. Ruth Connor and Edith Flinn Hall did a study on dating expenses of freshman and sophomore college students. They report that college students spend “$2 to $3 for routine dates, $5 to $6 for special dates, and $20 to $35 for big affairs.” A high school prom or college homecoming can be very expensive.
It’s a good idea to budget your date money so that you have enough money when the big prom comes up. Maybe for several weeks before the prom you can plan less expensive dates and save a little. If you explain the situation to your girl, she is usually willing to co-operate. After all, it’s a big event for her too, and she would like you to be able to handle it graciously.
WHERE DOES THE MONEY COME FROM?
With all of the expenses a teen-ager incurs he must have some regular source of income. It may help to know some of the different ways in which teen-agers get money.
Some youngsters get along asking for money as the need for it arises. But this isn’t completely satisfactory for either the teen-ager or the adult. Teen-agers need some money to call their own. They want to be able to get money without having to give elaborate explanations of what they plan to do with it. They dread the parental question, “What do you want it for this time?”
Young adults resent having to ask for every cent they need. Besides, this keeps them from developing a real responsibility for money. If they consider their mother or father as an endless supply of money, they never will learn how to budget their own money carefully. Then, when they marry, they may find that they are not capable of handling their finances.
This arrangement is not very satisfactory to parents either. They may feel they need to know what’s being done with the money they hand out, but it probably would make them feel even better if just one night they weren’t being asked for money. Some fathers get the feeling that they are loved only for their handouts. They may not seem to realize that teenagers don’t like asking for money any more than they like being asked.
Getting an Allowance
Allowances seem to be a good way of distributing the family income. Mother decides how much she needs to run the house. Father decides how much he needs to meet his expenses. The children all decide how much they really need for themselves. Then in family discussion the family decides together who is to get how much and for what. Most teenagers find that having an allowance gives them a feeling of independence. They have some money that they can spend as they wish, without accounting for every cent. Even if they feel that their allowances are too small, they still prefer having money they can call their own.
Parents, too, usually favor this arrangement. This way they’re not continually pestered for money, and they can feel some assurance that their son or daughter will develop responsibility for living within the allowance. Occasionally special events come up that require an “advance,” but parents can help a teen-ager learn to plan for such events so that “advances” are not so frequent.
If a teen-ager just can’t seem to stay within his allowance, it might be wise for him to discuss it with his parents. Maybe his expenses are really greater than the allowance provides for. Perhaps the family budget can be stretched a little to help with these needs. Maybe the young person should get a part-time job to supplement his income. Regardless of what is decided, the important thing is that it was decided together.
Working at Home
Some teen-agers work at home to earn money. They take stock of jobs around the house that need to be done and suggest an earning plan. Boys can contract to mow the lawn, help in the garden, clean the attic, or shovel snow to earn money. Girls may help with the house cleaning, dishwashing, cooking, and sewing. If your father has his car washed at the garage, maybe he would be willing to have you wash it in stead. If you did a good enough job, perhaps he would make it a permanent arrangement. If your mother usually hires someone to wash her windows, perhaps she would be willing to let you show her that you can do them just as well. Working at home, with or without pay, helps prepare young adults for their own futures as homemakers.
When the family budget cannot stretch far enough to include all that teen-agers feel they need, a part-time job will help, Paper boys, part-time clerks, baby sitters, and fountain clerks are often young adults who are helping supplement their income by working part time. Teen-agers can discuss the situation thoroughly with their parents before obtaining part-time work. Such questions as, “Will your work fit in with your schedule?” and “Will it allow enough time for school work and home responsibilities?” have to be answered realistically.
Teen-agers get a feeling of independence from working outside the home. They like to feel that they’re earning their own money rather than accepting it from the family. Sometimes they contribute some of their earnings to the family or have their parents save some for their future. Part-time jobs can be a big help if you need money, just so long as they don’t cut into your school and home activities too much.
Cutting Dating Expenses
If you have exhausted every possible source of money and you still don’t have enough, then maybe you must cut down on your dating expenses. The next time you go to the movies, try walking instead of taking the bus. Not only will it save you money but you may find that it’s a good opportunity to talk to your date and get to know her. Instead of that expensive movie in the next town, why not see the one closer home? Or a movie on television may be better than the one you’re going to pay to see.
You could cut down on expenses for a big prom by planning a party after the dance (with your friends) instead of going to a fancy night club in the city. By saving a bit here and a bit there, you’ll find that your date expenses can be cut considerably.
Most girls understand if you don’t have a lot of money. They realize what expense a date entails and don’t expect elaborate plans every time. There are ways of letting a girl know that you can’t afford the most expensive thing on the menu. If you are at a restaurant after a dance and your money is getting low, suggest some low-priced item that you know she likes. Don’t risk the chance of her ordering more than you can afford. She can’t know how much your budget can swing unless you give her some indication.
Perhaps you could look at the menu and say, “The cherry cokes are very good here,” or, “What kind of sandwich would you like?” That way she will realize that your finances indicate something around that price range. If she doesn’t catch on, you may just have to tell her that money is a bit tight tonight.
A girl on a date often has difficulty figuring out just how much a boy has to spend. She is as anxious as he is to keep out of embarrassing situations. If he doesn’t come forth with suggestions within his price range, she can ask what he’s going to have. His order will give her some indication of the amount of money he plans to spend.
When planning what to do on a date, a girl should be considerate of the boy’s wallet. Instead of automatically suggesting something rather expensive, she might offer several possibilities so that he can pick the one most suitable to his pocket.
Some girls are quite willing to pay part of the expenses on special dates. When something is planned which is beyond the boy’s means, a girl may suggest that she pay her share. Dutch-treat dates, once in a while, can be a great help to a boy.
The Purdue Opinion Panel 1957 Poll of 10,000 high school students finds that the popularity of “going Dutch” is declining among teen-agers. In 1948, 37 per cent thought that boys and girls sharing expenses “fifty-fifty” was a good idea. By 1957, only 25 per cent favored the practice. Boys now have more money than they did in 1948, “and in most cases they like to pay their full dating costs.
Many young people would prefer to have a girl help out in other ways than by going Dutch. They enjoy the parties she gives, the special events she arranges, or occasionally a date at her home watching television, for instance. Whether or not you Dutch-date depends on how you and your crowd feel about it.
HOW IMPORTANT IS MONEY?
One teen-age girl asks if there is any way that she can let the boy she’s dating know that money is not important to her. She would much rather have an at-home date, dancing or making candy, than not see him at all just because he doesn’t have the money. Many girls feel this way. When you get right down to it, money is not the most important factor for creating a good time. If you and your date enjoy just being together, it really doesn’t matter if you are going for a walk or sitting in fifth-row center seats at a Broadway musical.
Of course, special events are fun occasionally. But it’s not necessary to spend money every time. It might be much more fun to splurge one night and take it easy for a month or two. When you look back on some of the dates you enjoyed most, you will realize that money is not necessarily what makes for fun.
Lack of funds need not keep you from dating. Girls understand that boys are not always financially solvent. If the U.S. Government has trouble balancing its budget, why can’t you? Here are some suggestions of things which you and your date may enjoy doing on little or no money.
Most young adults find that their schools, churches, and clubs have active programs which do not cost a great deal of money. A school play or a church social can provide an evening of fun at little expense.
Museums, art institutes, zoos, state parks and many other publicly owned places, make excellent dating excursions. If you hail from a rural area it might be fun to plan a trip sometime to the nearest city. Once there, you could visit the library, museum, and zoo. If you pack a picnic lunch you can have a whole day of fun with your date at a minimum of expense. Similarly, if you live in the city you might enjoy going out to the country for a marshmallow roast or over to a coastline town to see the piers and boats.
When the budget has stretched to the limit, there is no place like home. See page 104, Chapter 8, for suggestions on how to make at-home dates exciting. By working in co-operation with your parents, you can plan pleasant and interesting dates without spending money.
Both boys and girls have many date expenses. To some young adults it’s a real problem; to others it’s a challenge-how can they make their dates both interesting and inexpensive? Dates cost anywhere from under $1 up! How much your dates cost depends upon how much you want to spend and how much imagination you use to make your dates more fun and less money. Whether you get your money from your parents or from a part-time job, you will want to plan your expenses in such a way as to allow enough for the items you must buy and the special events that come along.
If your money is limited, there are ways to earn more money or to cut down dating expenses. Your date would usually much rather do something inexpensive than go out less often and spend more money.
Money is necessary. You need it for school and grooming expenses, for gifts and even for clothes. But you do not need a lot of money to have a good time on a date.