Recently I was staying on the campus of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary in Mill Valley, California. Mill Valley is across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco and is an extremely affluent community. Just down the street from the seminary are multi-million dollar homes and everywhere you look there is evidence of extravagance.
One evening I was picking up a number of items from a local grocery store to prepare for dinner back in the apartment I was staying in on campus when I got in line behind two young teenage girls. They were probably 15 or 16 years old and were dressed in the latest fashion (which showed way too much skin in my opinion, but that’s a subject for a different blog entry). They each bought an energy drink and one of them used her parent’s ATM card to pay for it. She then proceeded to get $200 in cash back with the ATM card. I’m sure my jaw dropped to the floor! I could not help but think that I’ve never gotten $200 cash back myself, and I’m a working adult! Of course, I didn’t grow up in a multi-million dollar home in one of the richest communities in the nation.
But the experience did serve to remind me that one of the issues facing today’s young people is a lack of understanding of the value of a dollar. Even young people from much more modest circumstances than those two young ladies in Mill Valley have gotten used to living very well on their parents’ checkbook and credit cards. While this may make their life easier, one does have to wonder if it actually makes their life better. If they grow up not understanding the value of a dollar, how will they ever learn how to manage their own money? If they cannot learn how to manage their own money, how will young people survive in such a difficult and competitive economy?
The number of young adults who graduate from college and then return to live with their parents is staggering. While some of these young people may not have a choice, the reality is that many of them have realized that life is a lot better living in mom and dad’s basement than it is renting a place on their own. Again, this makes life easier for them, but does it actually make life better?
Somewhere along the way young people have to learn to grow up and take responsibility for their own affairs. Until they do, they will never mature enough to make good decisions on their own. If they cannot make good decisions, they will not function as healthy adults in society.
If you want to help a young person in your sphere of influence take a step toward maturity, you might think about teaching them good money management skills instead of just giving them your credit card. They probably won’t appreciate it too much now, but they one day they will see the wisdom of your actions and thank you for it.