DO YOUR CHILDREN HAVE AFFLUENZA?
No, it is not the flu or a virus like influenza. Affluenza, is a term that was first coined by Fred Whitman in the 1950’s to describe a child that grows up with social and financial privilege. This is quite common these days, whether you are wealthy or not. Many parents have overindulged their children making our new Millennials one of the smartest and most educated generation of all time; but also, the most entitled.
Let’s face it, as a parent, you want nothing but the best for your children. Most parents have worked hard all their lives and generally want their children to have a better life than they did. You want them to have the necessary skills to be successful adults, have a solid education, and be whatever they want to be. But be careful. There is a fine line between giving enough and giving too much. Most parents are not able to say “NO” and sometimes they should. It is necessary to teach the lesson that we don’t always get what we want. Did you get everything you wanted out of your life?
Start young and teach your children about budgeting. Why not begin with the allowance you give them weekly – let’s say $1 for each year of age for example. So, if your child is 12, they would receive $12 per week. Sit down with them and discuss the concept of paying themselves first. Go to your bank and open a savings account for your child and get them their very own debit card. Show them how to use on-line banking to view their new account. Now, with the allowance, ask them to put $4 every week into their savings account, allow them to spend $4 a week on whatever they would like, and then share the other $4 with a charitable cause. Spreading their new income this way will teach your children some very valuable life-long lessons. They will recognize the value of saving over time as they see their $4 per week grow into over $200 in one year. They will figure out how to make their $4 spending allowance stretch each week and build valuable budgeting skills; and they will also develop a social conscience to support local charities.
Why not sit down as a family and draw up a monthly budget that accommodates activities and purchases for every child in the family. By the way, the parents should have this locked down for their own budget and expenditures – so lead by example here. When someone invariably asks for something in the near future that is not part of the plan, you will have to say: “No, that’s not in the budget, but maybe we can make it part of the budget for next year.” Learning how to have your finances in order will ensure a life-long foundation for future achievements, well-grounded expectations of what to strive for, good habits to reduce debt, and the ability to create a successful lifestyle plan. Monetary setbacks are a fact of life for everyone. Having the skills learned when you are young will allow your adult children to know that sometimes you have to get back to the basics to cleanup your finances and get ahead. It’s always okay to restart and begin again. It is sometimes the only thing we can do – but then turns out to be the best thing for us in the end.