A Few Things… $6.3 Billion of Debt and Kids Can’t Spoil Themselves

Source: flickr.com via Rachel on Pinterest


 A few things…

Is there a reality show for extreme debt?

There should be.

Something like the Biggest Loser but with families and credit cards and student loans.

If you’re in debt here’s something that will make you feel a tiny bit better.

French Securities Trader Jérôme Kerviel is in $6.3 billion of debt.

I’ll admit I embraced a bit of generalized schadenfreude to make myself feel better when we were in debt and getting out of debt.

It wasn’t related to anyone I knew in particular but when I was feeling regret and remorse for the number, when I wondered how we would ever get out of it, I would think, there are people out there with a lot more debt than us.

So if you’ve stalled out on paying off the credit cards and car loans, take heart. It may take a bit longer than you like but it could be so much worse.

Also, how is this kind of trading fraud still happening? We need financial institution reform. Stat.

A girl can’t spoil herself, you know. – Roald Dahl, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Are your children spoiled in gifts or love or stuff?

This NYT piece, How Spoiled Are Our Children?, thoughtfully examines the debate and makes a distinction both between methods of spoiling and how spoiling changes as children get older.

With older children, you get into the issue of stuff. “When I think of spoiling, you’re talking about attention and you’re talking about things,” Dr. High said. “I don’t think you can spoil with too much attention to what your kids are doing and thinking and suffering from, but I think you sometimes have to be careful about things.”

Great read for me as our oldest grows up and his requests and needs change.

Any good recent reads you can recommend? My husband is currently enjoying Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and Fall of Everyone Else so that’s next on my reading list along with Tammy Strobel’s You Can Buy Happiness (and it’s Cheap) which my friend V says is a great read.

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  • There’s a Canadian show about reducing debt called Til Debt Do Us Part with Gail Vaz-Oxlade. She’s awesome!

  • Good morning R. I have been thinking about you lately and will drop a line soon. I very much encourage you to read Tammy Strobel’s book and glad it is on your list. I have not enjoyed a book so much in a long time. When I read that book I was lead to a few other ones I have since read including Brene Brown’s “Gift’s of Imperfection”, another awesome read. I also recommend Jean Twenge’s book “The Narcissim Epidemic” which is in line with your theme of today’s blog. Be well my friend and hugs and happiness from Vancouver.

    • I was going to recommend Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly. Just finished it this week and really liked it. I will likely read it again and take some notes :)
      I also agree, Till Debt Do Us Part is a good show. I sometimes get sucked into watching it and find some of her tips and tricks helpful and it gives me ideas on things we could do around our house to save more.
      Hope you are doing well!

      • Enjoyed Till Debt Do Us Part as well when we had cable (and lived in Canada). Gail is a taskmaster but it works.
        I like how she challenges the families and couples to have fun without spending money. The usual reaction is that they had more fun on a nature walk than when they went out for dinner and a movie.
        Hope you are well too :)

    • We have a mortgage on our home in Vancouver. We’re trying to pay it off at an accelerated rate so there is a significant gap between our rental income and mortgage + strata fees.
      I’m open to not owning in the future and just being renters. I think there are benefits to both.

  • Our six year old daughter is spoiled with attention (which is great) and spoiled with stuff (which is not so great.) We had a breakthrough this week that made me excited and proud. After watching her mom and dad purge and declutter on and off for the past two years it finally clicked with her that having too much stuff can be a problem.

    She told me over the weekend during our most recent attempt to declutter and purge junk from her bedroom that she “wants to have LESS toys than her cousin.” That was a huge breakthrough for her. She really treasures her toys, and to make the connection that less is better is awesome. She’s going big this time and getting rid of tons of stuff. We’ve been working at it when we have time this week and we’re nearing the finish line. She is going to have much more space to play when we’re done and she’ll have an easier time cleaning up when she is done playing.

    PS. your link to the Spoiled article doesn’t work. You have some extra stuff in front of the link that is breaking it. Here’s the fixed link: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/08/13/how-spoiled-are-our-children-no-simple-answer/

  • Oh the spoiling question! We most definitely do NOT spoil our boys with things. As for those that argue you can’t give a kid too much attention, I wholeheartedly disagree. My husband is a product of such a mother, and it has taken our entire relationship until the last 6 months for him to finally start getting over his wants and thinking more of others. I firmly believe that if you give a child all the attention, it inflates their ego to a point where they believe their needs should be met by everyone all the time. I’ve seen too many people in my millenial generation with over inflated egos due to this over-attention factor. I believe it all has to be in balance. Kids need to learn they can’t and shouldn’t get attention every single time they want it just as a parent shouldn’t ignore every request for attention from a child. Each has to give a little for both to have a fair relationship.

    • I should also note that my MIL doesn’t know what to do now that her son is grown, and she can’t pour all of her attention onto him. Subsequently, she is left feeling forlorn with no idea of what to do for herself. Her life has revolved around him and now our boys. Since we’re moving 1k miles away, I can foresee many frantic/sad phone calls in the future because she can’t give them all the attention she feels she NEEDS to.

      • Wow I feel like you just described my MIL! I 100% agree with what you wrote. It is important for a child to feel loved but not smothered. My MIL smothered both her boys and still does. I feel suffocated for her need to always be apart of our lives and to control how I raise my kids

  • I think the real conflict around “too much stuff” is how people define such things. We constrain our family (grandparents) in terms of allowing them to purchase stuff for us or DS.

    The rub of this is that stuff is their love-language. Giving and receiving gifts equals love. The challenge is that — for me — it equals not being heard, not being respected, and not being valued. Dialogue about this ends in an impasse, usually with me cast as the “bad guy” who is causing trouble for everyone and resolutely harming my son who “won’t have a normal life like his friends and everyone else in our culture” if he doesn’t have Cars-branded bedsheets (or whatever object du jour.

    For me, holding the line is difficult. It’s emotional because I know that it is rejection to them, and I know that it hurts them — the last thing that I want to do is hurt them. But then, choosing to “not hurt” them means that I am hurting myself. And that’s not good either.

    It’s a pickle.

    • Someone mentioned gift giving as a love language in another post/comment. We have someone close to us that uses gifts as an expression of love. She also tells us she loves us in other ways but she really enjoys showing her love through presents.
      She knows our wishes for fewer things and has cut back at bit. She also asks us for gift ideas a lot and is a wonderful gift giver. We thank her repeatedly for her generosity and accept all of the gifts without hesitation. If aren’t needed or wanted we either return or donate them.
      I think it is important to not reject the gift and thus in their eyes the gift giver, even if the gift isn’t something you want. I know it can be frustrating, it often feels like you are letting people waste money, but I put people over stuff.
      I’d rather have a good relationship with someone I love than be frustrated by their love language of gifts. Yes, it means more work on my end, trips to donate or return things, and I’m okay with that.
      Agreed though, it is a pickle!

      • Of course I’m gracious about receiving, and for years I was doing that.

        Then about 5 years ago, my mother ‘caught’ that it’s what I was doing. She’d been really excited about buying me an object that I insisted several times that I didn’t want. She bought it for me for Christmas. I’d found a new home for it by January. She visited me in January, and couldn’t find/see the object, and then asked about it.

        I told her “ah, I wasn’t using it, so I found it a new home!” She got very upset. Angry, then sad, then went home and made herself sick (spastic colon stuff, how she reacts to upset/stress/worry/etc). Then my dad called and was upset with me for making my mom sick.

        So to them, the lack of gratitude rejection comes in when you do give it away/sell it/whatever. Not that I hvae to keep everything forever, but at least “long enough” — and I have no clue how long “long enough” is. Waiting 3-6 months had the same result. Waiting 3-5 years in some cases was fine, but in other cases was grievous.

        Which means that not only am I dealing with stuff, but I”m dealing with the emotional aftermath of getting rid of it either way.

        And so far (10 years) of talking about it, going over the stress of this, etc, etc, nothing has worked.

        • I’m not asserting this to complain, really, but it isn’t always as simple as “be gracious, then give it away.”

          I mean, on my end it is. I do it anyway.

          The issue that I’m dealing with is the emotional fall-out of the other individual. Whether I do not accept gifts on the front end (ie: “what do you want for christmas?” me: I have everything I need, so, don’t worry about buying anything. Just donate it to charity or save it for yourself or whatever you wish!) or I do not accept it on the back end (ie, “are you using X that we got you? we got it just for you, knowing that you would like/use it!” me: Actually, I gave it to my neighbor who really wanted it; I wasn’t using it, really, and thought it would be better used over there.”) — at the emotional level I am not accepting gifts, and thereby not accepting love.

          And thereby wrong, bad, and mean.

          Yes, the relationship is more important. And that’s what I’m trying to figure out. How does a person relate to someone who is hurt when you reject their gifts (before they give them or after)?

          • Jenifer – That is a very difficult situation. I’m hoping someone that has dealt with something similar has some advice.
            We have been lucky that our family has mostly been accepting that we don’t want or need things. Also, moving overseas has drastically reduced the number of gifts we receive and the chance that the gift giver will be in our home and ask about the gift. So yes, it’s been a mostly painless transition. We still get a Christmas box from one person that has a whole slew of things I don’t need/want/or will use but I tuck it away, donate it eventually and she is none the wiser.

          • My mom is a gift giver too. She’s always calling me from garage sales, thrift stores, regular stores, etc asking if we want/need whatever it is she’s found and it frustrates her hugely when I say no. She’s gotten pushy on the phone when I stand my ground.
            I have learned that for gift giver love language people (of which she is one and your mom sounds like it too) it is rejection to say no to the gifts. Just as it would be if you refused to hug a touch love language person or say “great job” to a encouraging words person. This does cause problems though when you are wanting to keep things to a minimum!
            The thing I’ve found to work with my mom is to suggest a gift that I would like. So when she says “I was thinking you’d like xyz” and I don’t. I’ll respond with “No, that doesn’t really sound like something I’d enjoy or need BUT I’d love abc”. This gives her something to give and makes sure that what is being given is really something I want/need. When you suggest things just make sure they are non-clutter things like a ticket to a concert, a membership to the zoo, a huge soup pot because your family is growing and you need a bigger one, a gift card to a favorite restaurant or one you’ve wanted to try but haven’t been able too. We’ve suggested all of these and gotten all of them at one point. I then make sure to say something after we use them so she knows they are appreciated!
            So instead of totally saying no to gifts, suggest something so you both have your needs met!

  • Hello,

    I live in Norway, and we have sort of realityshow called “The Luxury Trap”. About ordinary pople who spend all teir credit cards to the limit on silly things they “need”. There are some amazing stories. They take on a new mortage to fix the house which is really needed, but still finds money to buy a breed dog who costs thousands.
    We live in a country with virtually no unemployment, but still some people find themselves in a bad state moneywise.

    Like your blog a lot.

    Regards Hilde

  • You ask if there is a program like The Biggest Loser, but for debt. Yes. And it is a Canadian program called Til Death Do Us Part. We see it here in the US. The financial advisor is Gail Vaz Oxlade. She also does on called the Princess. She is just fabulous !

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