As a teacher, a former coach and a personal finance blogger I have come to realize that entitled kids make financially irresponsible adults.
Keep in mind, this is just my opinion, but keep reading and I'm sure you will agree.
When I say entitled kids are financially irresponsible, what I don't mean is they become people who don’t pay their bills, that is a different subject.
When I say financially irresponsible, I more so refer to their long term view of finances. I talk about it quite often, but when my mom passed away from cancer there were several things I realized I needed to differently:
- I needed to stop thinking short term and start thinking long term
- I needed to place emphasis on the right things (relationships & memories) in life, not STUFF
- I should make sure that the first thing is always first, aka assess my financial statements and realize that I was one emergency away from being in a financial crisis
And while I would take my mom back in a heartbeat instead of the lessons I may slowly learn in the years following her passing, I will always think my mom for one thing:
Anti-entitlement vs. Empowered Childhood.
I am 100% a proponent of not giving everything to everyone just because you can.
Just because I can afford something as an adult doesn’t mean I get it. Just because a little kid could eat candy for every meal of the day, doesn’t mean you let them.
That was a lesson I learned a long time ago. If you want something go earn it, no one is coming to rescue you.
Now don’t get it twisted, I had video games and a go-kart. We had clothes and we definitely did not walk to school in the snow both ways uphill. But not EVERYTHING was given to us.
Most things had a life lesson or chore behind it. Brush your teeth 28 days in a row and I will get you the new GI Joe. Later in life when we weren't being coaxed to brush our teeth, sports taught us the same things – you have to earn your spot on the team.
However, this wasn't just my mom's approach, this was the approach many parents used to take (But have slowly gotten away from).
See Also; Parents Don't Ruin Sports For Kids
Teach your kids early!
Similar to my upbringing, I have a friend who is a very successful business owner who comes from a family of successful business owners.
This friend’s parents could have given him everything – new cars at 16, 100% paid tuition in college, even a down payment for his future home.
But instead, he bought his first car from the junkyard, fixed it up, flipped it and did it again. He bought it with the money he earned doing odd jobs and working at age 14. He had a car before he had his permit.
And that lesson has paid huge dividends in his adulthood as he runs a company that is in the seven figures. Instead of being enabled at 14 he was empowered. He learned the value of going after what you want, how to be thrifty and think outside the box, and not to wait around.
If there were two things that I think could help anyone when it comes to their finances it would:
- Take action and stop waiting for things to fall into your lap.
- Recognize what got you to where you are will remain the same if you don't change some habits
What I am not saying that if you get things given to you then you won’t be successful or be driven. No not at all.
My point is that there is a fine line when teaching empowerment, instead of entitlement.
Just like showing a 4-year-old how to get dressed instead of just doing it for them every day, there are certain lessons we all must learn in order to get the most out of whatever it is we desire.
Just like how it might be possible to buy a 16-year-old a brand new car, but instead maybe just holding off until the accomplish something like graduating from college.
Entitlement breeds more entitlement.
Entitlement is a habit. Someone doesn't just wake up one morning and decide to act entitled.
Their personal perception is not developed in a week even, it's taken years. The five year old who throws a fit for a coke instead of water and gets his way turns into a ten-year-old, then a 20-year-old and so on.
However, entitlement is not a good thing for a healthy financial lifestyle. And in the long run, it only hurts one person: Them.
Ever met someone who thinks like this?
- I graduated from college and got my first job, I deserve this brand new car.
- I am in my 20’s, I deserve to travel.
- My friends are all getting married, I need a huge wedding to keep up.
- I don’t need to plan for retirement, it'll work itself out.
- I will just pay the minimum until my student loans are forgiven.
- I don't get why I can't find a job, it's someone elses fault that I majored in (insert whatever).
- My social life is important to me, I can't adjust my spending in that area to pay off my debt.
While some of these are possibly some gripes you've personally heard, none of the statements from the list above make someone's financial place in life easier.
If they're just exiting college – it is not a good start to a healthy financial lifestyle to adopt a mindset of entitlement, where because of a degree some think they might be entitled to something.
While this is certainly a common nomenclature for millennials, the entitlement bug doesn't just sit on their shoulders.
Adults in there late 30's and into their 40's aren’t much better. Instead of griping about student loans and millennial issues, you commonly hear:
- I can’t change careers now, I am too old.
- I wish I saved when I was your age, but it is too late to make an impact now.
- I should have done (insert anything) but now I am just too old.
- It's easy for you to stay in shape and workout, wait until you have kids!
- (You get the point)
How we act shows entitlement.
Entitlement is not running around showing off and bragging.
Typically after about age 18-24, most stop trying to show off to impress others (Or at least they should).
Entitlement in this article doesn't even reference the people who think because their email signature says something cool that they made up using LinkedIn are better than the fast-food worker (News flash they're not).
No, this entire article is based around one premise:
Entitled children have a false sense that they’re ok and don’t have to do anything different as adults.
And sure, maybe some of what I have listed or said so far are wants and not needs, and maybe they are not exactly all entitlement factors. But once again, there is just a thin line to flirt with.
Should kids be taught an earlier age to delay the good for the great, or go for the instant gratification and use past indiscretions as an excuse to be irresponsible?
My final take on entitlement.
Here is where I am going with all of this.
I am not sure if this story is true but here it goes.
I once heard about a friend of a friend who runs their credit card up. Like runs it up to $4,000 or more. Evidently, this friend of a friend, who mind you has a job and a family, has their parents pay it off because they can't afford to do pay it themselves.
Keep in mind this was not a one-time occurrence or some leftover swipe-skis from college, this like a once a year thing.
And every time mom and dad bails them out. Which leads to me ask:
What was the lesson is being taught here?
How did this person (Knowling or even unknowingly) become so entitled (Comfortable) to have mom and dad constantly pay their bills?
What happens when mom and dad can't do that anymore?
How will this person teach their kids to spend money?
What should have happened was this.
Son/Daughter, let’s sit down and talk about how you can avoid this again in the future and come up with a plan to pay it all off. I want you to learn now when your 25 so you don’t do this when your 35,45 or 55.
But chances are that didn’t happen. And chances are this same person probably had somewhat of an entitlement upbringing instead of an empowered upbringing.
And all of this isn’t something I just pulled out of thin air.
CNBC money talked about how 1 in 4 millennials still have mom and dad paying bills for them. And entitlement isn’t just money, in fact, the worst case of it is how we treat others.
At dinner the other night (using coupons of course) I saw a family of 5 eating. Most of them had their cell phones out, on it again, off it again. The oldest kid never took his eyes of the screen. The waitress would come to help the family and from parents to children, the waitress was just an afterthought.
And that isn't the fault of the boy on his phone, it's his parent's way of treating others that he sees.
The Heisman trophy presentation can wait I felt like telling them…
But then again, how entitled am I to go tell people how to run their lives?
Josh writes about ways to make money, pay off debt, and improve yourself. After paying off $300,000 in student loans with his wife in less than five years, Josh started Money Life Wax and has been featured on Forbes, Business Insider, Huffington Post, and more! In addition to being a life-long entrepreneur, Josh and his wife enjoy spending time with their chocolate lab named Morgan, working out, being outside, traveling, and helping others with their finances! I got serious with money when I used Personal Capital to track my finances.