Students sound off on consumerism post-pandemic


Illustration by Rhanda Halawah

Tara Wirtschoreck, asst. features editor

From gas to savings to their family, every high school student has something to earn money for. Spending and savings habits vary between students, and different factors impact their decisions about what to do with their money, Junior Isabel Mathew explained.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the popularity of online shopping has significantly impacted consumerism, which has influenced shopping trends, Mathew said. From the first quarter of 2020 to the second quarter, consumer spending online increased 40 percent, according to JP Morgan Chase. Mathew believes that much of this increase was because people were stuck at home with nothing to do other than browse online shopping platforms such as Amazon.

“You can find anything on the internet to buy now, [and you can] get something by the next day,” Mathew said. “Technology has made it so easy to be a consumer.”

Although junior Ashi Chikani said she prioritizes saving money, Chikani enjoys shopping. Her online shopping increased over quarantine because she had more time, she explained, and online shopping was more accessible.

“I have a slight Amazon obsession where I will buy things whether I need them or not,” Chikani said. “Online markets, like Amazon, have increased consumerism.”

On the other hand, junior Mikaela Streicher believes that it is important to be mindful of where people spend their money, and Amazon has unethical practices that Streicher does not feel comfortable supporting.

“[Amazon founder Jeff] Bezos is buying as many different organizations as possible,” Streicher said. “[By trying] to be the king of those industries, he drives down the ability of small businesses to make [money].”

Senior Josh Patt believes that it is very important for people to start saving money at a young age. He puts money into his savings account frequently, and believes it is important for other students to save money as well.

“We have seen a trend in the past couple decades of the job market [getting] harder to break into for younger people,” Patt said. “With the way the economy has been trending it is important for people to start saving money.”

Senior Analibni Montiel Vargas works at McDonald’s to help support her mother, who lives in Guerrero, Mexico. Vargas works nearly 40 hours a week, and said that these hours, coupled with schoolwork, are very stressful.

“I was putting work and my family first and then myself.” Vargas said, “I was always the last. I noticed that I need to take care of myself.”

Despite her long working hours, Vargas keeps very little of the money she makes for herself. While Vargas is proud that she sends money to her family, she is frustrated that she can’t spend her hard-earned money on things she wants.

“[If I] really want something, and [use] money to buy it, I don’t have the same amount to send to my family,” Vargas said. “That’s frustrating because I’m working hard [at work] and trying to do my best at school, but [I have to] think about my family.”

Samantha Haugen, Spanish and Consumer Ed teacher, believes it is important for high school students to start learning and talking about money. Learning good financial skills in high school can help students in the future, Haugen explained.

“There’s a lot of ways that [students] can get in good habits of saving money or investing and watching it grow,” Haugen said. “Just start small and start where you can.”