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CanadaSue
12-17-2008, 09:53 AM
"I need to do a Christmas list," moaned our 17-year-old son, pulling himself away from the computer and the pressure of mid-term tests.

"Make it quick and mainly small stuff," I replied. "You've heard about the new frugality, right?"

It quickly became clear that he'd been cramming on another planet.

"I have no idea what you're taking about."

For weeks now the headlines have been screaming doom and gloom from the pile of newspapers on our kitchen counter and yet the message hasn't quite hit home with our teenaged kids.

I've read the advice from experts who suggest that you sit your children down and calmly explain to them why Santa won't be carrying as big a load this year. But my husband and I have resorted to laughter instead especially when our 13-year-old stuck her list on the fridge with a magnet.

If only she took this much care with homework: Each request not only came with a detailed description, but also photos downloaded from the Internet. The LG Slide cellphone was the one that really cracked us up, given that her Sony Ericsson flip phone seems to be working constantly just fine.

The precision of the presents showed an impressive attention to detail, we thought. Right down to the Roots Navy Blue Elastic Ankle Sweats (size small) which retail for $60 although the price tag was conspicuously missing from her missive. Would she notice if she got knockoffs from Giant Tiger instead?

I've read about "survivor syndrome," the guilt among workers who've so far escaped layoffs or voluntary buyouts. But few people talk about how the R word has become a black cloud that follows us to and from our jobs while we still have them.

Last month I found myself wondering, what if the bank calls the $6,000 loan on our line of credit? I'd barely started pondering how we'd raise that much cash, between the mortgage, car and braces payments, until I realized, given the more pressing plight of the Big Three automakers, we were probably safe for a while.

I marvel at all those people who say they're going to spend just as much this Christmas as last. Our family has agreed, at the suggestion of our retired sister-in-law, to cut out the last vestiges of family giving. The downturn has turned out to have an upside: it's been less stressful having to search for presents that will be a big hit with "kids" who are grown up and have places and partners of their own.

We cancelled a Christmas ski trip to Vermont after the price suddenly shot up $1,200 because of the lagging loonie. We're heading to Quebec, instead, at about half the cost and three-quarters the mountain.

I know we're not alone.

A friend chuckles that her two-year-old nephew came up with a surprisingly short list for Santa this year an iPod and a DVD player. And he's still in diapers.

I'm grateful we've already paid for the Grade 8 school ski trip. I'm too nervous to ask how our Registered Education Savings Plan is holding up and if it will be of much help when our son heads off next fall to engineering school. And I don't want to know if the Grade 12 rugby team trip to California, which should set us back about $2,000, is still on for next spring.

If anyone seems to get that things are scary out there, it's our 20-year-old daughter, who just moved into her own bachelor pad a month ago.

Last week she cut up her credit card then flushed it down the toilet. We're thankful it's her landlord who will have to deal with that potential plumbing bill and not us.

She's shopping the grocery flyers now and text messages me with gift suggestions for less than $30.

So maybe the truth is that the reality of recession can't hit home with kids until they've got one of their own.


http://www.parentcentral.ca/parent/article/554868

flourbug
12-17-2008, 10:16 AM
My son has been very disinterested in money until this last year. He didn't need any. Toys were another matter. Every item on every shelf in every store would do just fine, thanks. But CASH? He had no need for it. This was completely opposite from his three sisters, who need money, want money, do not want me to buy anything FOR them, just cash. Cash cash cash for every gift giving occasion.

Saturday his dad pulled into a parking spot outside a store and a hand stuck through from the back seat, "Money" the boy said.

Oh, thank GOD! Until that moment I thought he had been switched at birth.

zhanae
12-17-2008, 12:50 PM
A friend chuckles that her two-year-old nephew came up with a surprisingly short list for Santa this year – an iPod and a DVD player. And he's still in diapers.


How does a two-year-old even know what those things are? I wouldn't be chuckling, lady. I'd be having a discussion with my sister or brother. That's insane.

A.T. Hagan
12-17-2008, 01:06 PM
Now that she's nine we've been slowly involving the K. Major in sitting with mama as she pays the household bills. We talk about how much money we have coming in and what our regular monthly bills are. She does the simple adding and subtracting and as she does so begins to gain an appreciation of where the family money goes and how much money you have to have to really amount to anything. It's a slow process as we don't want to drop her into the deep end before she can swim, but she's slowly beginning to grasp the way a family budget works and why we can't just always buy everything she wants.

The end goal that we're trying to reach is that by the time she's ready to leave the nest she'll have a better idea than either of us did of how to not only stay out of a hole it might takes years to get out of, but to get ahead at an earlier age. Once she's got a better grasp of the way a basic budgert works I want to lead her to an understanding of how credit is both an opportunity for the smart and a trap for the unwary. Maybe she'll figure it out a few decades sooner than her mother and I did.

There's a reason why marketers of every type target kids and teens. They mostly don't have to work for their money and they mostly don't have any responsibilities they have to spend it on so they can blow it on anything they think they want and they will.

.....Alan.

SSG Rex
12-17-2008, 01:10 PM
My 12-yo stepdaughter came up with an impressive list, including an iPod Touch (4th Gen Nano acceptable, Shuffle unacceptable), a couple different fancy slider phones, a mini-laptop, and Wii with Guitar Hero World Tour and all the instruments.

I had actually bought a Shuffle for her earlier, a purple one even, until her brother mentioned one in passing and she did a five-minute tirade on how totally gay the Shuffle is and how horrid it would be to get one. So instead it went to the Giving Tree at Wallyworld for the girl that wanted an MP3 for xmas - and stepdaughter got to drop it off with us. I think that may have sunk in.

Potemkin
12-17-2008, 01:27 PM
I had actually bought a Shuffle for her earlier, a purple one even, until her brother mentioned one in passing and she did a five-minute tirade on how totally gay the Shuffle is and how horrid it would be to get one. So instead it went to the Giving Tree at Wallyworld for the girl that wanted an MP3 for xmas - and stepdaughter got to drop it off with us. I think that may have sunk in.


SWEET!


Every generation rails about the teens and young adults coming up behind them but I have to wonder how they would react having to wear used and outgrown clothing form older brothers and cousins?

Heck, I don't remember getting anything (other than underwear) new until I turned 13-14 and started earning my own money.

Mikala
12-17-2008, 01:34 PM
I dunno, I don't have kids. The closest is watching my nephews grow up, they're now 16 to 21.

I know that any requests for wanting xboxes, ipods, what have you were matched with the parents saying "yeah, I want one too. you better save your money"

The kids were never deprived, most "gifts" were for the family jet skis (used, the boys learned how to repair), they are bought cars (very used, learn how to repair) that they have to pay for insurance, etc.

They know to buy refurbished electronics, how to repair their own. They've work since they were in their teens.

I think we are a little different in Hawaii. Our mortgages were always in the 400K, now 600K range for an old house. We have ALWAYS had to be frugal. Most of us drive old cars, don't believe in debt, let others know when we have furniture we don't want, only have pot luck parties, it just a way of life.

It's also not uncommon for kids and elderly to live together, for EVER if they want.

BirdGuano
12-17-2008, 04:55 PM
Reality is the new black, and it never goes out of fashion.

:D

sandyd
12-17-2008, 05:20 PM
Now that she's nine we've been slowly involving the K. Major in sitting with mama as she pays the household bills. We talk about how much money we have coming in and what our regular monthly bills are. She does the simple adding and subtracting and as she does so begins to gain an appreciation of where the family money goes and how much money you have to have to really amount to anything. It's a slow process as we don't want to drop her into the deep end before she can swim, but she's slowly beginning to grasp the way a family budget works and why we can't just always buy everything she wants.

The end goal that we're trying to reach is that by the time she's ready to leave the nest she'll have a better idea than either of us did of how to not only stay out of a hole it might takes years to get out of, but to get ahead at an earlier age. Once she's got a better grasp of the way a basic budgert works I want to lead her to an understanding of how credit is both an opportunity for the smart and a trap for the unwary. Maybe she'll figure it out a few decades sooner than her mother and I did.

There's a reason why marketers of every type target kids and teens. They mostly don't have to work for their money and they mostly don't have any responsibilities they have to spend it on so they can blow it on anything they think they want and they will.

.....Alan.

Excellent Alan! :thumbup:

I was 8 and can't believe how few of my friends had a clue (or their kids now) have any clue how to budget.

I actually went to a bookstore with a friends newly married son and his new wife and bought them books on budgeting...they asked for them! Good kids :)

CanadaSue
12-18-2008, 01:08 PM
A useful tool with kids is Monopoly money. Get some at a dollar store &, using small denominations, make a nice big pile of incoming pay. The kids are always impressed by how BIG this stack of money is. My Gawd - there must be plenty for new phones, shoes, etc.

Then, beginning with the biggest bills, (rent/mortgage), start taking away that money to a new pile. Be specific with rent/mortgage, groceries, utilities, insurance, etc. Often - when they SEE how little is left after obligations are met - they start buying a clue.

It's a useful system for eplaining credit too - they can see how you have to pya back more than you borrowed & how that can add up - especially if you split repayments into separate piles for principle & interest.

Mama Alanna
12-18-2008, 04:19 PM
I tried all those with my kids. No impression. Budgets were "too confusing". :( We were the meanest parents ever.

Guess what? We're STILL mean. If our kids get in monetary trouble, they get to dig themselves out. We'll make short-term loans if there is an unbudgeted emergency, but we expect to be repaid. (And so far, we have been.) We don't pay their rent or mortgage, for instance, but when DD#1 had her car totaled, we fronted the payment for a rental car until the insurance company got off their fat asses and grudgingly admitted that yes, there was a provision for a rental in her policy.

flourbug
12-18-2008, 04:41 PM
I had a bit of a different situation as I was working from home when I had babies. My studio was divided in half - my side was workspace, their side as well equipped as a nursery school. I was there with them all day. I changed their diapers, washed them, breast fed, rocked them to sleep, lots of cuddle and attention time. But I needed to actually squeeze time to WORK into my schedule, too. When my oldest was around 18 months she wanted me to sit on the floor with her and play all day. Telling her I had to work meant nothing. So what?

Well dear, Mommy wants to work to buy you nice toys. If you want a toy tomorrow then Mommy has to work tonight. If you don't want a toy, I'll play with you. She was a greedy little bugger. Mom worked all the rest of the day and bought her a $1 toy the next day. She was sold. Of course there eventually came a time when toys did not work as a bribe any longer, so I slowly introduced other concepts, like, working for food and clothes and utilities. I slowly worked in the more abstract concepts as she got older and siblings joined the party. Mommy works to pay the mortgage and buy insurance and put money in savings. By the time she was five she saw a direct cause and effect - Mommy works = our lifestyle improves, and she was volunteering to watch the littler ones so Mommy could work MORE.

That child now works for a financial management firm.

booger
12-18-2008, 07:12 PM
Our homeschooling has a great advantage -- I can brainwash, er, train, um, teach them about financial responsibility from Day One until they move out. Over and over. I have a selection of finance books for them to read and, while they can choose when and how much at a time to read as their interest comes and goes, they do have to read them.

Also, we have a spend/save policy. All birthday and Christmas money, they can spend. All other money is money that they have earned. By actual work. They have to go to work with hubby and work their little butts off, even if it's "boring" grunt work. They get paid crap. As they get better, learn more skills, and have attitude improvements (less of the whining crap that happens from time to time), they get raises. Our 15 year old is the highest paid kid right now, making $5/hour for heavy, skilled work and each day is long hours -- sun up to sun down or later in most cases. This money they earn, they have to put 90% into their savings. They get to put only 10% into their "spend" envelope (which stays in the safe until they decide to commit to a purchase, no impulse decisions.

Now, they do go a little nuts with their Christmas and birthday money (all piled together from whatever relatives send) but, being kids, I expect that and just watch them enjoy themselves. It's still not a huge amount of $$, though, and they do have to think carefully about what they wish to buy with it. The earned percentage for spending the rest of the year? They are savage savers. :D They also have always appreciated used, cheap things. We do homesewn and thriftshop clothing, used bookstores, even games they buy used (carefully checking return policies first) and balk at anything with "new prices".

I, being an anal queen, have a spreadsheet for the household budget made up 1-2 years in advance (with archives of past years) and they kids are free to (and encouraged to) look it over weekly and add their input. They see, in hard numbers, what comes in and how much it takes going out.

Of course, they are still boneheads from time to time but, overall, I guess we're pretty lucky to have kids like this. My standard line for stupid "Can we buy this?" questions is, "Sure, let me just pull it out of my butt." I can repeat at will all day if necessary, with added threats of bodily harm sprinkled in here and there for effect.

Darkimbolc
12-19-2008, 12:18 AM
While I’m not going to suggest for a moment that we – the collective western world and America in particular – are not due for a serious case of the reality fairy and her clue-by-four of wisdom, you have to, at least in some part, feel sorry for these kids. It is really no surprise that the kids are slower to react and aren’t adopting the frugal way of life. This is all they have ever known. Their entire lives have been with the last 20 years – the hyper consumption, over-credited, extreme debt, consumerism-uber-alles years. I can safely say that all but the youngest members of this board remember other times. We often talk about “The End of the World as We Know It.” Well, for these kids, it is here – and being kids they are poorly equipped to deal with such a dramatic change. Hell, many of us adult are spinning as fast as we can to keep up with the changes.

Ben Franklin
12-19-2008, 12:45 AM
Well, most kids will have this one Christmas that will still be fun and extravagant, and we adults can have our last season of liquor-soaked festivities.

Then next year the kids will have to make do with wooden toys made by Daddy or sewn by Mommy for the young uns, and some new socks and underwear for the teens. Plus eggnog and a roasted haunch of roadkill deer.

And there will be joyous singing of Christmas carols, and oranges for all! (this is what Christmas was like for my parents during the Great Depression, except they had a ham instead of roadkill).

Therese
12-19-2008, 05:55 AM
Well, there will be no extravagance here this christmas, and I think for many it will not be so either. But even so, it will probably be better than next year.

I have been having discussions with my kids that they can't be so la-de-da about what they have, how they spend money, how they treat and care for their possessions. It is not so much having things for them, but the lifestyle they have gotten used to, especially with my illness making it hard for me to do simple tings like cook dinner, such as eating out a few times a week. That is the hardest thing for them to give up, but they are adjusting their expectations.

Honestly, I am ready to have a presentless christmas, and a couple of my kids are too, so maybe next year won't be so hard and the real meaning of christmas will be what's important. :)

Susie
12-19-2008, 06:21 AM
The trick is to get them thinking about how brand names and in-fashion items and all-the-vogue stuff isn't the be-all-and-end-all trick to happiness.

rb.
12-19-2008, 07:10 AM
I, being an anal queen, have a spreadsheet for the household budget made up 1-2 years in advance

Me too. :lol: And I thought I was weird. Guess not.

rb.
12-19-2008, 07:16 AM
Our kids have already learned how to earn income, the most often used is calling Grandma to see if she needs any work done. She will pay them $5 an hour to do the heavy housework she can't do, like carrying things up and downstairs, some yard work, etc. Our kids are also intimately engaged with our budget, given that I am often at work on it on the computer, or paying the bills on the bank website. Having been employed in bookkeeping/accounting, and DH knowing squat in the beginning, the kids have been privy to many financial discussions over the years.

They seem to be getting this new frugality pretty well. Good, cause it's gonna get a whole lot worse very shortly.

Renegade
12-19-2008, 07:33 AM
This is all they have ever known. Their entire lives have been with the last 20 years – the hyper consumption, over-credited, extreme debt, consumerism-uber-alles years.

Add to that the fact that so many parents haven't bothered to teach their children anything regarding finances. The difference between wants and needs have disappeared in the fog of easy credit, plastic money, and "but wait, there's more".

If the pessimistic economic prognosticators are correct, these kids are in for a rude awakening. They don't have a clue about shadow gravy, being able to see the ground through the cracks in your bedroom floor, having food freeze in your house overnight, jeans being patched and repatched until you just outgrew them, or your only toy being a 2x4 with wooden thread spools nailed into the sides of it for wheels. I was hoping such things would stay just long ago memories of mine, and not a possibility for any of my descendants.

Susie
12-19-2008, 07:35 AM
What's 'shadow gravy'?

Renegade
12-19-2008, 07:57 AM
a term from the Depression for when you didn't have enough meat to last all week, you'd just hold the meat up and let the shadow hit the frying pan while you were making gravy.

In my case I learned it from Dad who told it as a pessimistic joke (while stirring the gravy to find the few pieces of meat that were there).

flourbug
12-19-2008, 08:15 AM
This is all they have ever known. Their entire lives have been with the last 20 years – the hyper consumption, over-credited, extreme debt, consumerism-uber-alles years.

Add to that the fact that so many parents haven't bothered to teach their children anything regarding finances. The difference between wants and needs have disappeared in the fog of easy credit, plastic money, and "but wait, there's more".

Ren, my childhood sounds like it was similar to yours. Every year we got one "big" present for Christmas - a doll, a box of colorforms, some toy - and then a lot of little things from the five and dime. One year my big Christmas present was clay, dug up from our back yard the summer before. lol I actually LIKED it.

Susie, shadow gravy is lard and flour, with a piece of meat held over it to cast a shadow because there isn't enough meat to eat AND make gravy.

If I had it to do over again I would raise my children on a mountain top away from other people. ENVY is the cause of a lot we see today. It is the mad scramble to get into good colleges, to get good jobs, and then to reward oneself with the physical symbols of success. Young people are so desperate to at least appear to be successful, that they make very unwise financial decisions. They lease a car, get a no money down mortgage, buy pretty but poorly made furniture, wear the latest styles, get their hair and nails done, go on 3 - 4 expensive vacations every year, eat out four nights a week, etc and so on. If they have the income to pay for it all, they are wasting money. If they don't they become CC wage slaves. Whatever it takes to live la vida loca.

I feel like the grandmother who tsk tsks and warns a Depression can happen again, you know.