A Slightly Warped View of Post-Recession Families

There are many theories why parents struggle to teach their children positive money skills. Here’s one theory we can all agree on: the challenge of living in a consumer-centric society. Case in point: a recent article published by the Huffington Post that lists the top 23 must-haves for students returning back-to-school. And before you ask, no, this wasn’t posted in their Comedy section. Here’s the list:

  1. Bose noise canceling headphones
  2. Spotify music subscription
  3. iRobot Mini Scooba 230
  4. Gadget Track
  5. Netflix subscription
  6. Dropbox
  7. iphone case/battery juicer
  8. Keurig Mini Plus Brewing System
  9. Note taking iPad app
  10. PowerShot Digital Camera
  11. Water powered alarm clock
  12. Kensignton laptop lock
  13. Voltaic Converter Solar Backpack
  14. Laptop case
  15. Kno iPad App
  16. SanDisk Cruzer USB drive
  17. iHome iA9BZC iPhone speakers
  18. Motion-Activated Closet Light
  19. Netbook
  20. Snoozerr Recordings app
  21. ThermaPAK Laptop Cooling Heatshift Pad
  22. Kindle eReader
  23. QuickCam Pro 9000 Webcam

So what’s this going to run mom and dad? Hold on folks. The total cost (calculated by my quick search across the web) is a whopping $2,224. What makes this a bit more alarming is how the Huffington Post frames the article:

“Whether you’re in college, high school, middle school or simply a caring parent, these tech accessories will help any student achieve high-marks in class–and unwind when the cramming is over.” – The Huffington Post

C’mon HuffPo, we’re entering the third back-to-school year in a row in which many U.S. families are struggling to pay bills and make ends meet. Companies (and publishers) need to understand the reality of a post-recession environment. Sure, Keeping up with the Kardashians is a popular television show, but it’s not necessarily a serious aspiration for most families. OK, I admit that everyone wants an iPad, but for most families, $2,224 worth of techie extras is strictly off the back-to-school budget.

Companies that address the fundamental shift in consumer behavior and respond accordingly will be embraced by American households. The recession has changed everything—it’s a whole new world for marketers to explore.

For our credit union partners who work so hard to provide financial literacy to parents and youth, we have our work cut out for us. But it’s not an impossible task. Fortunately, we have moms and dads on our side. They understand this new reality better than anyone. Now, we just need to get everyone else on the same page.

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