Most teens with jobs spend their earnings on clothes, music, movies, and other fun stuff instead of saving it for rainy-day expenses or a college education.
The study—which was conducted over a 30-year period, between 1981 and 2011—looked at the financial habits of 49,000 high school seniors. While employment rates have dropped for teens in the last decade (from 75 percent in 2001 to 59 percent in 2010), what they do with their paychecks hasn't changed that much.
According to the study, most kids throw their away their money on "discretionary spending on relatively short-term wants and needs," instead of saving it for long-term goals like college. But to be fair, how much of a college tuition could high school seniors really earn working 15 to 20 hours a week at a minimum wage job?
One notable change in how they spend their money has to do with cars. The amount that teens used to spend on cars and car-related expenses has dropped sharply in the last decade. Researchers couldn't really explain the change, but theorized that it could have something to do with electronics and the internet, with kids interacting virtually these days instead of driving to go see one another.