Prodigal Sons & Material
How Not To Be Your Child’s ATM
Did you know there are 80 million
young people under age 25 in the U.S.? That’s nearly one-third of the population.
Even more, that they spend or influence the spending of $1
trillion year in this $10 trillion economy? Or that young people
today spend 5 times more money—adjusted for inflation—than
their parents did at the same age?
Did you know the average college
student has three credit cards with most students carrying
an average balance of $2,400? Or that the fastest growing
age group filing for bankruptcy in America is young people
under age 25 according to a Harvard University study? And
to top it off the financial literacy rate of this demographic
is at an all time low! Surprising or disturbing? From toddlers
who beg for another toy to college students who graduate
buried in credit card debt, do children today know the value
of a dollar? As the hypnotic spell of consumption entices
the youth of America, more and more parents across the U.S.
are troubled by their children’s attitudes
about money and spending. The old-time values of sacrifice,
thrift, and satisfaction have been replaced by the need for
more and pricier possessions. As virtually every message a
child hears about money—from marketing, peer pressure,
TV, movies, and other voices of consumerism—promotes
spending, parents are the first and last line of defense in
helping their children develop healthy financial habits that
will last a lifetime.
In Prodigal Sons
and Material Girls: How Not To Be Your Child’s
ATM (Wiley; June 2003; $24.95; Cloth), author Nathan Dungan—an
expert on family finances and the effects of mass marketing
on young people—offers parents a practical road map for
instilling children with a sense of financial responsibility
that will last a lifetime. As a long-time financial advisor
on this topic, Dungan blends real-world stories with the tools
and techniques needed to teach children the real value of money.
Prodigal Sons and
Material Girls is divided into two comprehensive parts. In Part I, Dungan
outlines the disturbing facts about America’s possession-crazed youth and the society that
has distorted their views. Readers will be introduced to everything
from the “three-headed monster”—a high-powered
trio of consumer product companies, media conglomerates, and
advertising agencies—that has tremendous influence over
children, to the distorted view of the American Dream as shaped
by principles known as “The Teen Commandments.” In
readers learning what they are up against and understanding
how external forces shape a young person’s financial
habits and values, Part I sets the stage for parents to teach
financial responsibility from a position of strength.
In Part II of Prodigal
Sons and Material Girls, Dungan offers creative and convincing examples
on how to leverage his highly successful “Share-Save-Spend” approach to money—critical
elements for helping children break free from the materialism
that has become so ingrained in our society.
Prodigal Sons and
Material Girls helps young people establish
healthy financial habits that will undoubtedly become their
foundation for making a lifetime of responsible financial decisions.#
Nathan Dungan is President of Share-Save-Spend LLC, and a
frequent speaker and consultant.