Fool on the Hill
Affluenza: Kid's Point of View

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By Swintah
January 19, 2001

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Hello, I'm 18, and I am writing also on behalf of my sister, who is 15.

While reading the article on "Affluenza", I was reminded of something that happened to me this last fall.

I had been working 8-12 hour days at a sheet metal factory all through summer, trying to earn money to save for college. Finally, I received my second-to-last paycheck. I went to the bank and cashed it, and took $200 out to put in my college-fund-envelope, like I had every week all summer. I was finally ready to count it. The envelope was stuffed full of 50's and 20's. I can tell you, that just holding that money made me feel so proud of what I had spent all summer accomplishing. It was like I had amassed a fortune and that I was entitled to every cent of it by my blood (sheet metal is sharp), sweat (It was a VERY hot summer), and tears (having a solid steel door fall on your foot is not a pleasant experience).

It also reminded me of our family Christmas. Here's what my sister and I received:

* Myself: Portable CD Player (to replace one that gave up the ghost after 3 years of service) and pack of batteries.

* Sibling: 3 CD's (music, not investments with a negative return! :) ) and a big tin of festive (but cheap) holiday popcorn - three flavors!

I'd like to say that we aren't poor. My Dad is a plant manager (He manages a factory - not houseplants!), and has a sizeable retirement portfolio. I think, instead, that our family simply has our priorities in order. Mom said that us kids had to have our "gift allowance" for the season downgraded because Dad's position at the factory was tenuous. That's when my sister piped up. She said that she thought that (and I know that this is going to sound clich�) it was the thought that mattered, not the gift. I seconded. And it was true. We have so much more than some people - a roof over our heads, healthy food, two loving parents, and an intellect. What more would we need? Anything extra, we can earn.

I would also like to tell you about one of my friends. He is 19, and graduated in my class. He has $40,000 of unsecured debt (read: credit cards), his new Saturn (which he could NOT afford) has been repossessed due to payment delinquency, and he has a debt consolidation loan, but, frankly, it's not helping. His family has no idea where he lives, or if he is well or not. He left them and has not contacted them. The last time I talked with him, he was asking me about bankruptcy, and whether he could "get out" of his debts. (Apparently my friends think that just because I know what a ticker symbol is, I'm a financial genius.)

I'm not trying to toot my own horn here, but I can't help but wonder if he is trying to find satisfaction where it cannot be found: in the accumulation of material goods. I wonder if he has ever had an experience where he felt that he had built something, amassed something he totally deserved, not mortgaged his future earnings and spent "monopoly money".

In closing, I would like to say that I hope that my parents don't send me any outpatient financial care. I don't want it, I don't need it. I want to lay my own nest egg, and if financial disaster strikes, I will learn from it and start all over again.

Whelp, I guess I went on kind of long, so I'll just take my leave, and leave ya'll something to chew on.