As the first generation after the civil rights movement, we gained access to the best institutions of higher learning and top management positions in corporate America. Although we excelled in our careers and earned salaries that previous generations could only have dreamed of, many of us forgot the tried-and-true examples of our forbearers. Instead, we became caught up in the financial madness, trying to time the stock market for quick financial returns or using our homes as ATMs because we believed that home values would continue their endless, meteoric rise. Then, a few years back, our world crashed with the financial meltdown. Due to rampant spending and lack of attention to our finances, we did not provide ourselves with a sufficient cushion to weather the hard times.
As we regain our financial footing, we now have the prime opportunity to take up the mantle of our parents and grandparents and teach our kids the value of budgeting, saving, and frugality. For too long we have taken them on our excursion of wanton spending as we seemingly satisfied their every whim during the illusory flush times. We must bring them back to planet earth.
I have started this process with my college-age children. Like many of our kids, they believe that they can get anything that their heart desires. When they run out of cash, their first instinct is to text me and treat my cellphone like an ATM pin number. To put an end to this practice, I sat down with my daughters and sons and shared the financial facts of life with them: They will receive a monthly stipend, develop a budget for their living expenses, and stick to it. In fact, all four will have to find summer jobs to pay for a portion of their expenses during their college years. 0These rules may fall under the tough love category, but they are necessary if our children are going to appreciate the value of a dollar.
We have the same goals as our parents: to make the next generation more financially secure and provide them with more options than we had. We must put our financial house in order while we lay the foundation for theirs.