Some questions simply defy explanation. For example, who built Stonehenge and what was it for? Why isn’t “phonetic” spelled the way it sounds? And why can’t women put mascara on with their mouths closed?
Here’s another perplexing question: Why do otherwise intelligent people with triple-digit IQs still manage to dig themselves so deeply into debt that they’re often forced into bankruptcy?
Actually, I have the answer to that one.
You see, personal finance is rarely, if ever, taught in high school. So, like it or not, that responsibility rests squarely on the shoulders of parents.
Unfortunately, try as they might, many parents are lousy teachers — either consciously or subconsciously.
Of course, that answer begs the next question: What are those parents doing wrong?
Well, it’s really not much of a mystery, folks. In fact, if you want to ensure that your kids will become utter failures as adults — at least when it comes to managing their personal finances — all you have to do is follow these six handy suggestions:
1. Give them everything they want in life. Most kids who grow up never wanting for anything will fail to understand the value of a dollar, so don’t bother teaching your little cherubs about the importance of saving money. Besides, what’s the rush? They’ll have their whole adult life to master that.
2. Foster an entitlement mentality. John F. Kennedy said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” But what did he know? Teaching kids the importance of personal responsibility is cruel. In fact, it’s absurd to expect them to believe that the only way they are ever going to get ahead in life is through lots of hard work.
3. Badmouth budgets. You don’t want your kids to be able to decide for themselves as adults if a budget is a necessity for keeping their finances healthy. After all, I have more than a few friends who insist that budgets are a waste of time, so parrot that opinion to your impressionable children and never teach them about budgets.
4. Keep the miracle of compound interest under wraps. Time is an ally of the young, especially with respect to the power of compound interest. That’s why you probably should just forget to even bring this up. Why give your kids a golden opportunity to build a large nest egg that might allow them to retire early one day?
5. Don’t allow them to make money mistakes. Carefully control how your kids spend the money they get for special events like birthdays and Christmas. Shelter your kids from learning a valuable lesson about impulsive spending and the value of money by stopping them from buying cheap toys that you know will break within hours of being purchased.
6. Encourage the importance of showing outward displays of wealth. Why buy a Honda Civic when the neighbors own a BMW? Never mind that you can’t truly afford the latter. I mean, what better way to condition your kids to keep up with the Joneses and teach them that their self-worth is determined by their worldly possessions? Hey, it’s all about the bling.