By David Pitt -- AP Personal Finance Writer
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Teenagers have never been known for their restraint, but perhaps these times are different. Tuned in to worries of a deepening recession, many teens say that they've been smart shoppers and have lowered their expectations for receiving gifts this holiday season.
"I plan to spend less this year," said Shakara Walker, 18, a senior at Benjamin Banneker High School in Atlanta. "Since I've gotten older, it's got to the point now where gifts aren't everything," she said.
These overriding concerns come at a time when many teens are making their first efforts at managing their own money. A high school sophomore in Rock Island, Ill., Mackenzie Heriford, 16, said she has saved a monthly allowance from her parents to spend on Christmas.
The sluggish economy has prompted members of the Walker family to agree to one major gift and a few smaller items. That's different from last year's long list of gift ideas Shakara and her younger brother picked out of catalogs and magazines to give to her parents.
"If I get a few gifts I would be happy and grateful," she said.
Research by the Buzz Marketing Group, a youth market research company based in Voorhees, N.J., indicates many teens are coming to the same conclusion as Walker and plan to cut back this year. What's more, they're telling their parents it's OK to do the same.
"They're making cuts or asking parents for less, saying just get me the big-ticket items and not all the ancillary items," said Buzz chief executive Tina Wells.
Younger children aged 7 to 12, who are less likely to be focused on poor economic news, still have high-priced items on their wish list. This would include favorites such as video game consoles and games like the popular Guitar Hero, Hannah Montana- and Barbie-branded items and laptop computers, Wells said.
Though her family has talked about cutting back because of the economy, McKenzie expects to spend more than $100 on gifts and may spend more than last year. Even so, she said her friends also are talking about how the recession affects them.
"A lot of people have been talking about (money) lately because of how bad it's been getting," she said. "I know my parents have been a lot more conservative with their money."
Teenagers wield considerable economic power. All told, the nation's 26 million teens spend about $80 billion a year, according to Rockville, Md.-based market researcher Packaged Facts. Their parents spend another $110 billion for their clothing, food and entertainment, the company said.
Teens typically get their money from part-time and seasonal jobs, parents and other family members.