All that Glitters is Not Gold: Learning to Spend Wisely

Saving money is good, but it’s okay to spend the money you earn too. The key is choosing to spend your money wisely. Would you set your money on fire? Probably not, but that’s the equivalent of what you do when you are not careful about how you spend your money.

Advertisers are always trying to get kids and teens to spend their money. Did you know that according to the Federal Trade Commission, advertisers spend $1.6 billion a year just trying to sell food and drink products to kids? Add in clothes, toys, gadgets and other items and advertisers spend over $208 billion dollars a year trying to get kids and teens to buy their products! In order to spend your money wisely, you need to make sure you do not give in to their tricks.

The Cool Factor

It’s the latest, greatest, coolest product ever! If you buy this product, you will be the envy of all of your friends! People who are cool use this product! At least that’s what the advertisers want you to think. Chances are your coolness factor will not go up if you buy the product or down if you don’t.

The Celebrity Factor

Your favorite reality TV star tweets that she loves a certain product. A commercial comes on featuring your favorite musician explaining how well a product worked for him. Did you realize celebrities are getting paid to advertise these products? Sometimes they really are great, but usually the celebrities are just getting paid a lot to stretch the truth.

You Might Like This To…

When you like a product or person on Facebook or sign up for a mailing list to follow what is going on with your favorite show, you usually get a lot of other ads suggesting other products you might like. It’s just a trick to get you to spend money.

Product Placement

Have you ever watched a movie where a character is eating a certain kind of chips or drinking a particular brand of soda? Chances are, the company paid to have their product used in the film. When teens in a movie use a certain product or you play a game where the product appears, you are more likely to want to buy it.

Advertising You Wear

When you buy clothes with a particular brand’s logo or the name or picture of a product on them, you become a walking advertisement. It may be cool to have that shirt or a particular pair of shoes, but keep in mind they are getting free advertising out of you.

It’s on Sale

Stores like to hold sales and send out coupons to get people in the door and encourage them to spend a lot of money. However, not all sales are good sales. Watch the prices on items closely. Sometimes a product that is not selling gets a raise in price and then is put on sale at the price the store originally wanted to sell it for. Other times you may get a lesser version of a product, for example, electronics stores may sell a TV for a lower price, but cut down on the extra features it has. Outlet malls and discount stores may sell items you want at a cheaper price, but you often get a lower quality product or one that has minor defects.

Suggested Activities
  1. Fill in the "Should they buy it?" worksheet to practice purchase decisions.
  2. Design an ad for a fake product or one of your favorite products using one of the strategies above.
  3. Write and perform a short skit telling kids and teens what to watch out for when it comes to advertising and spending money.
  4. Create a card to stick in your wallet reminding you which advertising tricks to watch out for.

Discussion Questions
  1. Why do you think advertisers spend so much money targeting kids and teens?
  2. Have you ever bought a product because of one of the advertising tricks mentioned?
  3. What kinds of ads on TV or in magazines really stand out to you?