we are living in a different generation

Images-1 This is a conversation that comes up again and again.  Parents are talking about their kids, who are starting to be able to work, and the parents say, well when I was their age I worked to make money.  Yes, they are right, so did I, but we are living in a different generation.

When I grew up, I had no choice but to work and make money because if I didn't, my parents were not giving me any.  They were gracious enough to give me a car when I turned 16 but without money, I had no gas.  I held down 3 jobs in HS and continued to work in college.  At one point in college, I actually washed the dishes in the cafeteria with huge rubber gloves just to make some cash.  I had no problem with work and honestly, I don't think my kids do either. 

Growing up, there were an abundance of jobs and opportunities to make money.  There was also not as much school work.  It wasn't a big deal to have a job after school or on the weekends. Of course there are plenty of kids who have to work to support their family and pitch in with the cash but the kids these days who come from many middle class and upper middle class families have families who live a very different life than the one that they grew up in.  There is less freedom, thanks to my generation of parents.  There is a shit load more work in school and expectations to create the perfect resume by 18, and again there are few jobs.

Here is a scenario.  The kids grows up in a household where the family travels on vacation, parents goImages-2 out to dinner, kids get the clothes they want, they might even have a vacation home somewhere or a share, life is great.  The kid hits 16 starts to need money because they want to continue living the life that they have been living the past 16 years and the parents say, well, go work and by the way, make sure you still kick ass on those SAT's and build your resume.  Hmmm.  How many hours are there in the day?

I am not saying that kids shouldn't work, they should but realistically this generation is lucky to get an internship.  Those internships are helpful to create a work ethic, understand how businesses work and to get involved with something they might be passionate about.  It helps them grow.  There are companies now that the interns are first year college grads that if they are lucky they get picked up year 2 and are given a salary.

I believe that most parents want their kids to work so they understand the value of a dollar.  I get that.  So, how do parents teach their kids the value of the dollar when they have so many dollars themselves and have been happy to provide for years to the kid? 

I hope this has worked but here is what we did.  We tried to teach the kids how to budget and how to make money.  At one point, all our kids were bar/bat miztvahed.  With the money that they made, they did 3 things.  First, give to a non-profit of their choice that they really cared about.  Second, buy stocks and watch them.  Some of the kids were totally into it where others could care less.  That is ok because it was an education on the markets.  Three, put it away in a money market for college.  So far, that has worked.

Once HS hit, we have given the kids a debit card.  Money which is agreed upon is put into their account the first day of each month.  That is for food, going out, the movies or anything else they want to do.  It needs to last to the next month.  If it doesn't, tough luck, stay home.

When Jessica hit 18, we took it to another level.  I looked at how much I had spent on her over the past 2 years for clothes, etc. and came to a monthly number.  We gave her that number including the cash deposit number and in essence, it became her salary.  All clothes, all going out, all processing her film, filling up the car, etc.  At the beginning she came in over budget and had to pay us out of her savings which was her bat mitzvah money.  She was happy to pay us back.  She has made budget every month since.

Now, we will still pay for her vacations, her travel and special stuff like leasing a car because she grew up in a household where that was part of our norm.  We have given her an opportunity to intern by giving her this cash.  I know for a fact that she is interested in making money this summer so she has more to spend but if she can only intern, so be it.  I do believe she has learned the value of a dollar and has become an independent person at the same time.  She is responsible for her own, let's say, salary.

I didn't want to continue to have to ok every transaction and hand each kid some random cash every weekend.  I wanted them to be responsible. 

I worked through HS and college but I am not sure I really learned how money worked and how to budget until I was on my own for my clothes, my partying and my entertainment.  Rent hit me between the eyes once I graduated college and had a pittance of an income but my kids are growing up in a very different world than I am so I am trying to adjust based on the home that they grew up in not the home I grew up in or the life I grew up in so many years ago. 

Times have changed and so should we.