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Teens are spending less and shopping thrifty like their parents

Can't find your teen? Check the sale rack.
/ Source: TODAY

Can't find your teen? Check the sale rack.

Young people are starting to shop more like their parents, seeking out deals and waiting for full-priced items to go on sale, according to The Associated Press. spoke to parents of kids who are thrifty shoppers, proving that young people are wising up when it comes to the value of money.

Beth Carter of Warren, Rhode Island said her three teenagers clip coupons, scour eBay and use the scanners at the grocery store to check prices.

Teenagers shopping
Today's deal-hunting teens are smart shoppers.Shutterstock

"We call it junk mail Tuesday — the day when all the grocery store circulars and the Subway coupons come," she said. "Every Subway coupon goes to my 17-year-old son. We were just driving the other day and I said, 'Do you want to stop at Subway?' and he said, 'No, I don't have my coupons.'"

The single mom says her own spending habits have likely influenced her kids.

"I'm very thrifty because I have to be," Carter said. "They are, too. Maybe too much so. But on the flip side, I think they're more savvy than most kids are."

Maddy Hubbard of Florida told her 14-year-old daughter loves fashion, but hates paying full-price. She recently scored a pair of like-new Dr. Marten boots on eBay for $75 — less than half the retail price. The mom and daughter go thrift store shopping together.

RELATED: Back-to-school shopping cheat sheet: What they really want

"Goodwill isn't what it was when we were kids," Hubbard said. "The one that's closest to our house is huge. It's racks and racks of clothes. If you go enough, you can get jeans for six bucks. Why would you want to spend $100? We can go shopping and get a bunch of stuff for both of us for $30."

Back-to-school spending this year is expected to hit $42.5 billion, according to The Retail Economist, a research firm. While that's up 2.1 percent from last year, it's not the usual 5 percent or 6 percent increase, the AP reported. It's also more spread out, happening throughout the year instead of a rush in late summer.

Today's teens are more likely to reuse clothes from last year, too. And when they do spend, they spend more sporadically — the goal is a carefully curated closet, not one big spree in a single store. This new approach to buying clothes has taken a toll on back-to-school shopping, experts say.

"Retailers have been talking about this for some time," retail analyst Liz Dunn told "There's not as much appointment-shopping behavior. You don't go out and stock up for the season anymore."

She added that young people place more value on entertainment and technology than apparel, as compared to past generations.

"This generation is a lot more individualistic," she said. "They're not as tied to brand identity. They're a lot less interested in logos."

In frequent cases, they're also picking up their shopping habits from their parents — many of whom were forced to cut back during the recession of 2008. That economic downturn forced stores to launch huge sales to get customers in the door, and now parents (and their teens) have come to expect sales when they shop.

Carter said she's proud her teens have picked up her frugal ways, and says it will help them grow into more responsible adults: "Kids should know what things cost," she said.