My financial schooling was subtle growing up. My parents bought items when they could afford it – not relying on credit. They paid a bill when it came and didn’t wait for the “due date.” In teaching my own children I wish I could say “yup, I did that…”, but to be honest – they did it themselves. They both are frugal in their spending – not feeling compelled to wear the latest fashion or drive the fanciest car. And for the past few years, they’ve even cut their own hair. (Even when I’ve offered to pay for it.) They appreciate what they have – and are building their savings accounts while putting themselves through college. I am so proud of them. Somehow they got it and I feel it’s so imbedded in them, they will carry it forward for the rest of their lives. Mary Hunt discusses the dangers to avoid in this slippery path of entitlement.
How to Tear Down Attitudes of Entitlement –
From Mary Hunt’s Everyday Cheapskate
It is strangely ironic that the freedoms and affluence we enjoy in our society are the very things that stand to ruin our children if not addressed early and effectively.
The consumer-credit industry is doing all it can to get your kids to fall for the buy-now, pay-later lifestyle. If you do nothing to intervene, statistics indicate that your child is headed for a life that will be severely impacted not by credit—credit is not the problem here—but by the debt it can create.
How to Tear Down Attitudes of Entitlement
When the following three characteristics occur at the same time in the heart and mind of a child, they create a kind of “perfect storm” that has all the likelihood of creating a disastrous situation:
1. attitudes of entitlement
2. financial ignorance
3. glamour of easy spending
For our debt-proofing purposes, “entitlement” is that demanding attitude that says, “I deserve it now even if I haven’t earned it or cannot pay for it.” Some call it the gimmes, others the I-wants. No matter what you call it, this attitude is running rampant, and not only among kids. Entitlement affects kids and adults alike.
Entitlement is subtle. It creeps into our lives when we compare our lifestyles and possessions to those of the people we respect and want to be like. It shows up in new parents who throw all caution to the wind when it comes to nursery furnishings and “mandatory” equipment. It shows up in two-income families who, because they work so hard, feel they deserve to have nice things. It shows up in adults who feel compelled to conform to society’s relentless ratcheting up of standards.
Entitlement is the standard message of marketing and advertising. Look carefully at everything that shows up in your mailbox this week. The message to keep up is relentless. The push for conformity creates attitudes of dissatisfaction and entitlement.
At every turn it seems something or someone is fanning the flames of entitlement in our lives—and our children’s lives too.
Attitudes of entitlement, both yours and your children’s, are an enemy that, if not dealt with, will surely sabotage your efforts to develop financial confidence in your kids.
A frugal lifestyle, where you live below your means, is the best environment in which to raise kids. When children observe their parents consuming carefully, making wise spending decisions, choosing not to buy the biggest and the best, and not living on credit, they begin to assimilate those values.
By telling your children, “We don’t choose to spend our money on that,” you send a positive message that you have money but make intelligent choices about how to spend it.
Clearly, attitudes of entitlement are a serious problem. But they are not terminal. Diligent parents who are willing to be consistent examples and limit setters will find success in tearing down attitudes that have the potential to do great harm.
Excerpted from Raising Financially Confident Kids by Mary Hunt (Revell, 2012).