Archive for the ‘Qualities of Success’ Category

Way back in July of 2007, I talked about the Quality of LOYALTY. At the time, I talked about it from the standpoint of a young employee working at one of their earlier jobs. I talked about the importance of staying loyal to those who employ you and of not being disloyal just because you think you might be getting a better opportunity. Over the next few years, in the classroom, I’ve been able to experience what many kids call loyalty.

What I’ve found surprised me perhaps more than it should have given the reason kids are in school in the first place:

They have no clue!

When I deal with my incarcerated students, many of them have the most screwed up vision of loyalty. In their head, loyalty means you never say anything bad about your hommie, no matter what. Period. End of sentence. Ever. In fact, in their world, one never “rats out” a hommie. If a friend is choking to death on a substance that they weren’t supposed to ever have been in contact with, loyalty dictates that one will never report the situation to someone who could help. Similarly, if a friend is going to commit a crime against someone else, even someone who is completely innocent, loyalty dictates that the friend commits the crime regardless of any other issues. For these students, the code of loyalty can be summed up best in three words:

Snitches get stitches.

While this sounds like a great premise for a Dr. Seuss book, this kind of warped view of loyalty has the very real-world possible consequence of death or some other permanent condition. One that isn’t nearly as funny as a book about the scar-bellied snitch from Dr. Seuss.

I’ve also seen in regular districts where young people believe they are at war with adults. Or where Hispanic kids believe they are at war with Caucasian kids, Black kids with Asians, or any other, arbitrary grouping.

For example, this week, I had a student call me a name in Spanish that basically included a vulgarity and an adjective that described my being overweight. There were three students in a group, and as they all walked away from my classroom, one of them made the offensive remark. When I asked which one made the comment, surprisingly, none of them even heard the comment or knew what that comment even meant in Spanish. None of them was going to be disloyal to his friends.

I had another student in the same class that committed to writing, some more, even more offensive insults about me. This student at least had the decency to wait until they believed I was gone from the school and therefore out of range to have heard the comment. The student denied writing the comments up till the writing of the comment was compared with a previous writing sample. Of course, other students in the class had seen the student writing the comment, but none of them were going to step forward.

WTF! Nobody knows anything about LOYALTY?

I worry about the future when I see students and young people with such a misunderstanding of real loyalty. I wonder where they get these ideas.

Joe Paterno, formerly of Penn State Football, after receiving reports that one of his friends and former assistant coaches had forcibly sodomized a 10 year-old child, did not go to the police as would have been the right thing to do. Instead, Coach Paterno called the athletic director and might have involved the school administration.

To be fair, this has rather less to do with loyalty, and much more to do with immortality. Coach Paterno was working on half a century of being an institution at Penn State and throughout Pennsylvania. He was a hero to many, and while I believe his decision to not be more active to stop his rapist former assistant coach, there is a small part of me that understands staying out-of-the-way and keeping my head down when I’m trying to accomplish something.

Very serious crimes such as robbery and rape are being committed in many of the Occupado protests. Many of them are going unreported to the authority because the victims and other protesters feel that they are being loyal to their cause and the supporters of the protests.

Their rationale is simple. If they report a crime, then the police will have to come in and do something about it. If the police do that, the protest is over. In a way, the victims feel that they are making some sort of noble sacrifice for what they consider a greater good. I believe they are sadly, and seriously misguided young people who were led astray by the adults in their lives for years.
 

So if this isn’t loyalty, what is?

You recognize that this isn’t loyalty. You recognize that true loyalty is more about helping others to be successful at all the right things. You know that loyalty sometimes means you have to “snitch” on a friend to keep that friend from screwing their lives up further. You know that loyalty, true and real loyalty, sometimes means telling someone something they don’t want to hear.

As an adult, and as a parent, you are probably feeling frustrated because you know that these news stories are no longer the outliers. This stuff is happening every day, across the country. People that we should teach our children to look up to, are becoming with increasing frequency, people that we should shield our children from.

But hope isn’t completely lost.
 

What can I do?

1. Show your kids loyalty by being truly loyal yourself. Start with loyalty to your spouse, your family, and to your kids. Sometimes loyalty is protecting your family from malevolent forces. Don’t be afraid to let your kids know how your loyalty manifests itself.

2. Call out B.S. demonstrations of false “loyalty” when you see them. When your kids come to you with some story about not wanting to get a friend in trouble, ask them if their friend will be willing to take the punishment for your kid’s misbehavior if it comes to it. Spoiler alert, they aren’t!

3. Separate your kids from the kids who push for false loyalty. This is a simple one. If your kid has a “friend” who ever says something as stupid as the snitches gets stitches thing, you need to distance your kid from them. First, as we’ve already said, they aren’t really friends, but second, these people are heading towards something dangerous.

I have been unable to verify this story with links to anywhere, but when I was young my dad was big into country music. His favorite artist was George Jones. My dad told me a story about how Jones had either hidden or destroyed all the shoes of his wife at the time Tammy Wynette. I’ve heard that he took the heels of all the shoes or that he took the shoes altogether. Either way, Wynette’s standing by her man definitely smacks of inappropriate “loyalty”. Enjoy.

 

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Pop Quiz: Readers of this blog will remember a series I did in 2007 about several qualities that all successful people, businesses, or enterprises possess. Can you name each quality? Or do you at least know how many QUALITIES OF SUCCESS there are?

Some of you have probably named a few, or even a lot of QoS, and you should be proud of yourself for being able to do so. If you need a refresher, check out the list HERE.

Do you know who really exemplifies the Qualities of Success as a whole and most of them individually? If you took the time to read the title, you probably have a good idea that I’m talking about HTC.

Earlier this year, I finally joined the current decade and bought a Smartphone. I chose the HTC INSPIRE, based on research and, price. At the time, some of my friends mocked me because I didn’t get the iPhone. “Why get that, when iPhone does everything you need and is everywhere?” I still haven’t had occasion to regret my decision. In fact, I quickly became a convert to ANDROID in general, and my HTC specifically. There was just one teeny tiny problem.

HTC offers a service HTCsense.com which does a few interesting things. These things, like locating your phone, locking your phone, or even forwarding calls, are cool, but can be replicated using other technology. But they are cool, and they came with the phone. Since the beginning of my having my new phone, I couldn’t use this function. I would try, but it just never happened. In fairness, this function is still in beta, so I went to a HTC forum and asked how long it would be in beta. I never thought I’d get a response.

Surprisingly, I did. A staff member contacted me within 24 hours, showing impressive INITIATIVE and asked me a few clarifying questions. At the end of this conversation, they said that they couldn’t fix the problem, but they were going to bump my case up the ladder. Within another 24 hours, I was contacted by someone higher up who tried a few more things. Unfortunately, nothing worked, but I was assured that they weren’t giving up on me. I was again contacted by someone even higher up who guaranteed that they were going to get this problem fixed. Let me say that again:

They guaranteed that they were going to get this problem fixed!

This person showed true DEDICATION by making a guarantee, knowing that if they screwed up, they were taking a real risk that they would lose a customer. What’s more, whenever any customer leaves a company pissed off, they rarely do so quietly. I know I wouldn’t. I’d tell my wife, my family, all my Face Book friends, people I work with, my cat, the opossums that live in our yard, people I meet at the gym, and most importantly, my readers! (Don’t believe me? Check out the last time a company tried to screw me HEREand I kind of liked them!) So when HTC Support guaranteed that they’d fix the problem, I was intrigued. Sadly, that representative wasn’t able to fix the problem right then, but told me that he was going to do some research in the code (I understand that he was talking about something dealing with computers, but beyond that I had no clue). He told me he would be calling me back within a week, and gave me his name and department, showing that he was holding himself ACCOUNTABLE. Even though I was skeptical, I agreed to give him the time he asked for.

Before the agreed upon week was up, I got a system-generated email from HTC saying they were sorry they were unable to solve my problem. I figured that would be the end of it, and I resigned myself to the idea that I just wasn’t going to be able to use one part of the service I was sold. It wasn’t the end of the world, but it was disappointing. When I got a call-back from the original rep, I thanked him for calling me back but told him I was done. He said something to me that immediately gave me a change of heart:

“Mr. Stanton, I understand how you feel. But I told you last week that I’d get this fixed, and I need you to stay with me to do that.”

For those keeping score, that would be the exact definition of RESPONSIBILITY. Given that I write about, and truly believe in the QUALITIES OF SUCCESS, how could I abandon someone who was trying to meet the very high bar that I set? So, even though I was getting past the point of caring, I stuck with my people.

thumbs up largeOver the next few weeks, between this representative, and another presumably from another department, I was contacted dozens of times by representatives of HTC. Let’s put this into perspective. They had multiple representatives working with me on a portion of a product that was free to me. They were making no money off me in this transaction, and there was still the very real threat that I would leave and potentially cost them money in bad word-of-mouth. Their PERSEVERANCE
was really impressive. In fact, by the end of everything, exhausted that I was, I was able to use the full functionality of HTC, making me a potentially lifelong customer, based on the actions of these great employees.

I wasn’t planning on writing this post; I’m not nearly as good at complimenting others when they deserve it. I have high expectations and too often people aren’t able to meet those expectations. But when they do, when they exceed any hope I have of getting it right, that deserves to be pointed out. Additionally, I see the “Occupy ____” movements around the country and I see many young people who are putting out a lot of energy in what I consider to be the wrong direction. I believe that if the people who are complaining that you can’t become successful in America unless you come from money are wrong. I read somewhere, “All I see are people who were born on third base who believe they hit a triple.” Maybe there is some truth to that, but as the late Steve Jobs proved, and as the representatives from HTC further demonstrated doing the right thing almost always leads to success.

The guys and girls at HTC were so good, they never gave up, they truly were the best around, just like my favorite character from one of my favorite movies. Enjoy!

  

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P.S. Two quick things: First, I have been, in no way, compensated by HTC for this story. If anybody at HTC would like to change that, I can be reached by email wil@finance4youth.com. Second, For the record, there are 17 Qualities of Success, so far.

 

In every parent‘s life there comes a time when they need to sit their child down and have a serious talk about life. Some parents make a big deal and production about it, buying visual aids and showing their kids the tools that they use. Other parents pretend that this isn’t happening, or at least that it isn’t happening yet, all the time realizing that they are risking their children having to learn the facts from people who don’t have their best interests in mind, or even worse, from the streets.

Of course the above holds true for many sensitive and difficult subjects, but only one can truly rise to the level of being called “THE TALK”. We’re talking about finances here.

Earlier, at the beginning of summer, we discussed some choices about how to handle the idea of allowances for kids. You can read about them HERE, HERE, or even HERE. Some parents thought that this was the end of the story, and not something way closer to the beginning. The truth is, your kids are going to need to learn how best to handle serious issues like the smart use of credit, planning for the future, making and sticking to budgets, and even how to deal with life when your plans blow up on you. This is when it can get a little messy for parents and their children alike. Hopefully I can give you a few tips to make this less difficult on everyone.

You really can be too young: Many of the bloggers out there and some of the “gurus” will tell you that your kids are never too young to learn about these issues. Well, that’s not exactly true. I’m all for teaching kids about money issues in ways that are age and developmentally appropriate. I could try to talk to my 6-year-old nephew about the finer points of an interest-only mortgage, but I’m sure he’s more interested in seeing what his nostrils look like when you shine a flashlight through them (That may not be strictly true, but I always get a kick from the flashlight thing). You should stick to basics that you can deliver in small enough chunks that they can understand, but with just enough detail that you don’t lose them. If you just can’t help yourself and you absolutely need to talk about topics that are probably over their head, the best way is by teasing the more advanced topics in the course of the more basic (and appropriate) lessons.

A little mystery is better than total disclosure: Remember the first time you heard, saw, heard about, learned, or discovered that your parents had sex (that is if your parents have had sex, unlike my parents, who never have and never will, thankyouverymuch)? Yeah, you don’t want to put your kids through that when it comes to money issues. Some parents might struggle to keep their finances healthy. Having kids, in and of itself, is an expensive proposition, but by no means the only reason parents might not want to divulge too much. Maybe they made some bad choices, maybe life got a little hairy, but the kidlets don’t need all the details. If you want to purge your soul, see your clergy, a psychologist, a bartender, or whoever, but don’t burden your kids with too much detail into your own finances.

Try to let your kids guide the direction of the conversation: Just like the other “talk”, one area where parents frequently screw up is by misunderstanding the questions that their children may have. A kid might ask where babies come from, and a parent will start the conversation with, “Well, sometimes Daddies make special drinks for Mommies that help Mommies get sleepy…,” when all the kid wants to hear is “from the hospital”. No kid wants to hear the first story. No adult wants to hear that (with the exception of some members of the local police, but that is another story altogether.) Kids have an amazing ability to communicate to adults what they are ready to grasp. Sadly, adults generally suck at interpreting what the kids are saying. My best advice here is to ask a lot of questions about what kids are curious about or need help understanding. Give them a broad, basic answer, followed by some more questioning to see if that helps to answer their questions, and then a more detailed response. Lather, rinse, repeat as necessary.

Showing is better than telling: Kids get lectured at enough at school. I personally make sure of that. They learn very early on how to tune out when they feel another lecture coming on. Try to avoid adding to the lectures they will have to sit through by developing activities that will help them see what happens. There are games on the internet that can be used in a pinch, but these are generic, and might not be the best fit for your child. Of course, this will mean that you have to be engaged with your child, but most parents who are planning on teaching them about personal finance are probably already pretty well engaged already.

And finally,

Be prepared: Before you get to the point where you need to have “the talk”, be prepared with the accurate information and some ideas about how you would answer questions. This means you might need to invest a little time and a little money on reading materials. You’re reading Finance For Youth: The Blog
already, so that is a good start! Another place where you will get good information that is definitely not over someone’s head is by reading my book, Finance For Youth: The Book, available through www.finance4youth.com. Am I saying that my stuff is the only stuff you should read? Absolutely! However, I know that would be incredibly unlikely, so I suggest that you supplement F4Y products with products from your second favorite personal finance person.

Having “the talk” is going to be strange. There is no way around it, but it doesn’t have to be so uncomfortable that you postpone it until it is too late. Remember, postponing leads to your kids needing your money long after they should be on the way to creating their own lives, and nobody wants that.  Also remember that if you get stuck having to give the talk, and it gets awkward, you can always just tell your spouse that your kid ate the pie!

 

 

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Note From Wil: This is a guest post from Kelly Austin, a writer with http://www.highersalery.com.  Much of what Miss Austin writes today should sound familiar to many readers. Much of her advice today can also be found in various articles right here on F4Y:TB. I include her take for those newer readers who might not have read some of those older posts.

I like to include the writings and opinions of as many people as I can.  If you want to contribute to Finance For Youth: The Blog, send me an email:
wil@finance4youth.com.

Personal finance is one subject that does not get enough attention in the education system, so it is up to parents to raise financially literate children. Here are five actions that you can do to help teach your teenager about personal finance.

Get a job: Encourage your teen to find a part-time job so that he learns the value of work and develops a good work habit. Giving allowances is okay, but adults have to work for their money; no one just gives money to them. Help your teen look for a paper route, babysitting job or a job at the local fast food joint. Working ten to fifteen hours a week while in high school will help them learn to prioritize their time and earn money for their spending and savings needs.
(Note from Wil:  I talk about this very topic HERE!)

Open a Checking Account: Your teen probably has a savings account but it’s good to get him a checking account so he can deposit and use his hard-earned cash. You can get your name put on the account so that you can oversee his transactions. Let him get a debit card and teach him to balance his account regularly. Even if he messes up and gets an overdraft charge, it’s better to do it now than to rack up thousands in credit card charges and fees as an adult.
(Note from Wil:  I talk about this very topic HERE!)

Make A Budget: Once your teen has a job, show him how to make a balanced budget. The expenses must equal (or at least less than) the income otherwise he’ll go into debt. Allocate extra money to savings goals. If your teen doesn’t have a job, you might consider giving him a lump sum of money equal to what you usually give him annually (or quarterly) for his clothing and entertainment expenses. Then it’s up to him to spend it appropriately. Do not bail him out if he wastes it. The best thing you can do is to give him some household chores so he can earn some money.
(Note from Wil:  I talk about this very topic HERE!)

Read A Good Personal Finance Book: There are a few great books that teach personal finance and are enjoyable for teens. Consider giving your teen a copy of Dave Ramsey‘s Total Money Makeover or Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez. I Will Teach You To Be Rich by Ramit Sethi is also great for teens as it was written when he was just out of college and has a writing style that appeals to a younger audience.
(Note from Wil:  I personally don’t agree that all of these books or authors are great, but that’s my opinion.  For a F4Y friendly book, You can always go with THIS ONE!)

Set Short and Long Term Financial Goals: Your teen will likely have a long list of needs and wants. Help him to prioritize them and set short and long-term savings goals. Short term goals might be saving for a concert, buying a car or new computer. Long term goals will likely be college, an apartment or car upgrade.
(Note from Wil:  This is the name of the game!  I talk about this everywhere online and in Finance For Youth: The Book!)

This guest article was contributed by Kelly Austin from www.highersalary.com. Visit her site for information about salary and benefit information for many popular careers.

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I read every email sent to me regarding Finance For youth.  Every once in a while, I get a few questions that might not spur a whole post in and of themselves, but are worthy of answering publicly. Just as a note, I do respond to any questions sent to me. Most are handled via email, but some see publication here or elsewhere. Some of the questions are great questions that inspire conversations between me and my PF friends; others are strange questions that inspire minutes of Family Guy style reenactments in my head. Not all the questions have to be about finance, but they should all have something to do with youth issues.

I’ve corrected this issue in the letters and questions that I’m using today, but going forward, your chances of getting your question responded to or even read are increased if you can properly spell my name. I know it is not the standard spelling, but my name is spelled with only one “L”. W-I-L. Three letters. That’s it. Also, I will not publish your name or other identifying information without your express permission. That being said, I prefer to have a name for whenever I’m corresponding to people just so I know that you are a real person. That being said, in the words of one of my favorite characters, “Allons-y! Alonzo!”

Dear Wil:

So what is the secret of true wealth? I looked in your code but couldn’t find anything.

 -A.J.

I’m assuming you are referring to my post HERE. That was an April Fool’s Day joke that I’m rather proud of. If you come from a place where April 1st is not April Fool’s Day, this is something pretty common. People play little harmless jokes to celebrate. It’s actually one of my favorite celebrations. Sadly, since I now work in schools, with children, I have limited my participation. I have to be an adult once in a while. But I still like to do something fun here.

The secret of true wealth, A.J? It’s all in the definition of wealth. Some people talk about wealth in terms of money, some talk in terms of “stuff”, and others talk in terms of family and experiences. However you define wealth, the secret to achieving that wealth is hard work, focus, and an unwillingness to compromise your values for anything that doesn’t get you closer to your definition of wealth.


 

Dear Wil:

I used to like the music videos you play in your posts. They usually have something to do with what you are talking about. I can’t believe you played that stupid Friday song! WTF man?

-F.D.

This is a question from the same post. In the same way that I wanted to have a little fun and play a little joke with the content, I decided to play a little joke with the music. This brings up a couple points on music. First regarding this specific video, I will say that I was wrong to include Ms. Black’s work as part of a joke. She is everything I want to see when I think of Qualities of Success. Whether or not I like this song, her style, or even this particular video, she went out and did it while most of her detractors are sitting on their asses wondering what might have been. Not only that, but she got her 15 minutes and withstood her critics proudly. Good for her! There should be some measure of fulfillment that Jimmy Fallon, Stephen Colbert and Taylor Hicks all got together to sing her son.

My second point is, F##k You Sony music and YouTube! Nobody is trying to make a buck here from showing a video of a song that stopped being popular 15 years ago. The whole point of sites like YouTube is to get the videos seen and the music heard. That is pretty damned difficult to do if you block remote playing of the videos and the songs. You guys suck!

Wil:

What is your opinion on the Ryan plan? What do you think about the Republicans trying to end Medicare and Social Security?

-S.L.

Those are both very important questions. I’ll be honest that I haven’t read the actual Ryan Plan, so I won’t comment on it directly. As far as Republicans trying to get rid of Medicare and Social Security, I think that position only tells a limited part of the story. Look, if we keep things going as the left wants, Medicare and Social Security will not last. When I’m old enough to qualify for these programs, using today’s ages, neither of these programs will exist in their current forms. Quite possibly, they will not exist at all. On the right, their proposed plans seem to do little to change that reality. So basically, people in my age group and all those who come afterwards are either going to be boned, screwed, or f##ked, depending on how you look at it. I personally don’t see a whole lot of difference.

While I’m at it, you may have noticed a conspicuous lack of political content on this site and other places where I frequent. I’ve decided that I’m backing away from the political. There are times when politics are important, but being one of the few who have the balls to tell the truth takes its toll. I’m a little fatigued by having to defend facts and truth against nutjobs who see bogey men and the specter of past presidents everywhere. As my wife has pointed out, I haven’t been too good about abstaining from political conversation yet, but this is a work in progress. We’ll see how this works going forward.

And finally, this last email has sparked what I hope will become a series of articles coming up. It is short, but opens the door to a huge subject. I’m curious to hear how some of you feel about this subject.


 

Wil:

What’s your position on giving children allowances? I have two young children and my husband and I are split on how to handle this.

 

-Y.M.

I can’t help but think of this song whenever I think of reading anything.  Assuming that showing the theme song for a show that hasn’t been on in forever doesn’t qualify as copyright infringement, enjoy!

 

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Ever thought that you would want to write for Finance for youth: The blog? Maybe you are a writer who wants to reach a few more readers. Maybe you are a money person who has something to add to the discussion. Maybe you are a young person who wants to share your point of view or the point of view of youth in general. Hell, maybe you are some crank who wants to prove to the world how stupid I am and how much smarter you are than me!

Who knows what your motivation is, but you are feeling the urge to jump on your computer or grab a notebook and a pen and start writing. Writing can be a lot of work, but it can also be very rewarding, especially if you get the chance to write about something as universally important as personal finance. So if you think you’ve got a great article in you that you are dying to get out there, I have only two words for you.

Do it!

 

Send me your best article about youth issues, finance, education, or fun! If it’s good enough, I’ll put it up, along with a link to your site as my post of the week. You’ll get full credit; I’ll get to read some awesome new writers’ works. Everybody wins!

Of course, to keep this all honest, there are a few things I need to make clear:

  1. Since I don’t charge for people to read the blog, I don’t pay people to write for it. If I use your piece, you are getting exactly what I get out of it. You get exposure for your work and the means to reach and potentially influence my audience. As I said, I’m more than willing to put up a link to your other work on another site.
  2. I am a lot of things. I am a writer, a teacher, and a financial advice provider. Notice that I didn’t list “editor” as one of the things that I am. I’m not in the business of editing your submissions. If I have time to spare and an interest in seeing your particular submission on F4Y:TB, I might engage in a dialog with you where I present suggestions that I think will make your article better, but chances are better that I won’t. Generally, I will either use it as it is presented to me, or I will reject it. Either way, I won’t leave you hanging. You’ll know ASAP whether or not I’ll be using your article.
  3. I’m not the language police, but I don’t like gratuitous profanity or vulgarity. Nothing pisses me off more than having to sift through a bunch of s–T to get to a decent f—ing article. Got it? If absolutely integral to the article, I can see looking the other way, but I’ll make that decision when it comes up.
  4. I’m only one guy with a blog. I’m more than happy to share whatever resources I have to get your article seen by as many people as possible, but you have to do your part as well. I expect that contributors will do some sort of advertising on their own. Post announcements on your other sites, tell your friends, stand outside the Starbucks with a sandwich board; whatever it takes to let people know to read your article.
  5. Do yourself a favor and read F4Y:TB before you get all type-happy. You’ll start to get a feel for what I stand for and what Finance For Youth is all about. I’m not going to post an article that goes against what I stand for or what my brand represents. In other words, if you are advocating something that goes against my Qualities of Success, chances are good that you get a quick TNT e-mail.
  6. I will only entertain original work. Don’t try to pass of “recycled” posts from other writers or link farms.

So those are my rules. But what does it take to get your article read and posted? Well, there are no hard, fast rules here, but the basic things I’m looking for are accuracy, personality, and relevance. That being said, there are some suggestions that will help you get your work read, whether here or elsewhere. These are some things I like to see:

  1. While brevity is the essence of good communication, don’t sacrifice quality or completeness for a shorter post.  Give the reader the whole idea.
  2. My best posts, and the best posts I have read always tell the reader a little about the writer.  Let’s face it, there isn’t much new about personal finance.  The only thing that separates a factually accurate post that is dreadfully dull and one that is good is personality. I want to be able to see yours.
  3. Give your post a hook.  You want to tell me about your journey from bankruptcy to financial independence?  Great!  Make it sound like an epic like The Iliad! Want to give the readers rules for being financially smarter than the average young person, write a limerick that is easy to learn and remember.
  4. Pictures might not hurt.  Especially if they are funny and add/or to the story.
  5. I’m big on humor!  I’m just saying.
  6. Be as entertaining as possible. Give me a reason to want to read what you write.
  7. Hot chicks always get their stuff read faster!  Of course I am kidding, and do not use physical beauty or gender as criteria for submissions.  See number 5 above!

If, after reading this, you still think you’ve got something to say that my readers want to hear, send me your article, any pictures you want included, a paragraph or two about yourself, and if possible, a picture of yourself to include with the article to wil@finance4youth.com. I will read any submissions received in the order I receive them and will communicate with the author to let them know whether or not I will use their article ASAP!

While I was writing this, I stumbled upon a great song by one of my favorite bands, cake.  I saw this awesome video, done by youtube user camillathethrilla that really fits in with the whole writing thing;  unfortunately, Sony and Youtube are full of dickness and the video won’t play from this site.

So, instead I present Greenday singing about one of the best known books ever!  Enjoy!

 

 

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A couple of days ago, there was an article in the Wall St. Journal by James Bernard Murphy, entitled “In Defense of Being a Kid“. Mr. Murphy, by all measures, seems to be a well-educated, intelligent writer. I want to say that I have no problems with him. Of course, I wouldn’t have if I never read his latest article. After reading it however, I’m left with one glaring, unanswered question:


 
WTF!?!


 
Okay. Let me give a little more detail. This article is a response to author Amy Chua‘s latest Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. A couple of points here: First, I haven’t had a chance to read this book yet! I want to, but I haven’t had the opportunity. Second, I believe that most people who have ventured to critique this book have also not read the book. They heard the sensational parts and off to the races!

From what I have been able to gather (again, without reading the actual book), this book tells Ms. Chua’s story about her life as a mother. I haven’t been able to find any credible source who suggested that this book is a how-to. In fact, according to Ms. Chua herself, the opposite is true. The sensational bits of the story are that Ms. Chua has stated that she was a strict mother who held the following rules in her home:

Children were not allowed any of the following.

  • Attend a sleepover.
  • Have a playdate.
  • Be in a school play.
  • Complain about not being in a school play.
  • Watch TV.
  • Play video games.
  • Choose their own extracurricular activities.
  • Get any grade less than an “A”.
  • Not be the number one student in every class except for P.E. and drama.
  • Play instruments other than the piano or violin.
  • Not play one of the above mentioned instruments.

Okay, back to the article in question.

LARRY SUMMERS, who is a competent academic economist somehow came to be in a debate with Ms. Chua where he said something to the effect that the point of childhood is childhood itself. He mentioned that it takes up to a quarter of one’s life, and should be enjoyed. 

Briefly leaving aside the question as to what an economist (summers), and a political writer (Murphy) have to say about a popular culture book, this article was a source of much face-palming while I prepared this post.
 

 Bernard says “bravo, Larry”. He then jumps into discussion of some of the “gifts” of childhood.

“First is the gift of moral innocence: Young children are liberated from the burdens of the knowledge of the full extent of human evil—a knowledge that casts a pall over adult life. Childhood innocence permits children to trust others fully. How wonderful to live (even briefly) with such confidence in human goodness. Childhood innocence teaches us what the world ought to be.”

With absolutely no due respect to Bernie, ask any kid or adult who has ever had a “bad” uncle, or teacher, how liberated they feel from the “burdens of the knowledge of the full extent of human evil”. In many cases, the difference between a victim and almost a victim comes from parents who teach their children that not every adult deserves trust or obedience. In some cases, physically learning how to defend one’s self prevents abuse. But instead of filling some of their play time with important lessons about survival, Larry and Bernie suggest allowing them to enjoy being kids.

“Second is the gift of openness to the future. We adults are hamstrung by our own plans and expectations. Children alone are free to welcome the most improbable new adventures.”

Arguably, some of these “most improbable new adventures” are the very adventures that have contributed to the United States’ (official) unemployment rate of around 9%. Instead of making sure the kids are focused on school, which should be preparing them for the real world, we want them to “feel” good. We want them to “experience” life. Let me tell you a story about my own “improbable new adventures”.

Growing up, I was a smart kid. Like many kids, I believed that I could do anything I wanted to. Academically, I was unchallenged. I wanted something more. I took a woodshop class because I had never built anything. I mean, how hard could it be to build a box. I worked hard, and at the end of the semester, I had made a mirror for my mother. She laughed at it and told me in no uncertain terms that it would never be hung in her house. She suggested I take a P.E. (gym) class or something for which I was better suited.

Now, to be fair, the edges were rough, the actual mirror part wasn’t properly centered or mounted, there were large gaps, the staining was uneven and blotchy, it was asymmetrical, and it was ugly. Also, failing that class (rightfully so, given that I took a whole semester to make an ugly mirror) destroyed my G.P.A. In fact, if I factor how much I spent in materials for this mirror, added to the minimum wage for the hours I spent working on it, and instead just bought a mirror for my mother, she would have ended up with a large, well-made mirror that would have complimented her home. So I guess I learned something valuable in that respect. People have different skills. My skills do not include carpentry or wood working. My mom could have let me go on with my little adventure to the point where I had screwed myself out of being able to have a career that was better suited to me and my talents, but she wisely kept pushing her expectations on me.

“Third, children are liberated from the grim economy of time. Children become so absorbed in fantasy play and projects that they lose all sense of time. For them, time is not scarce and thus cannot be wasted.”

Bernie, let me tell you, that is exactly why parents are responsible for children and not the other way around. Would I rather sit around and play of Facebook all day than go to work and risk having a bad day? No doubt. Would I rather live on a diet of chili-cheese fries and ice cream instead of eating more healthy food and going to the gym? Sure! Again, there is a reason why we don’t do these things, and that is much the same reason why adults rule the world and not children. That Bernie, and apparently Larry miss this scares the hell out of me when contemplating any children they may have.

Now, I’m not saying that Ms. Chua is a flawless or perfect parent. I’m sure she wouldn’t say that either. But what cannot be denied is that we as a society have strayed when it comes to dealing with our kids. Where once parents might have done some brutal things in the name of raising kids to become good adults, we have now gone to parents brutally neglecting their responsibilities when it comes to raising kids in favor of allowing them to “feel” good about who they are. We are just now starting to see the price we will wind up paying. I disagree with some of the things on Ms. Chua’s list, but then again, I didn’t raise her kids. I applaud that she took the time and effort to parent (yes, it is a verb) and accept consequences for her choices in a country where industries have been developed to allow parents to shift blame for the way they raise kids onto the backs of someone else. We need more Tiger Moms.

Funny enough, the Band “THE WHO” and the band “The Offspring” each have taken a stab at what they feel the status of the kids of their eras are.  I think they are both right, for their times.  I think we are in different times today.


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