Thursday, November 20, 2014

Reality Check?

Morrigan, who desperately wants a dog, with the neighbor's dog Hannah.

Morrigan came home from school today and said the Goodwill had come that day and the 8th graders had a "reality check." What, you might ask, is that? The students had to talk about where they pictured themselves at 30. Our student, you'll be happy to know, plans to be a tax lawyer, married and with one child. We're good so far. It makes sense to think about where you are going, how to get there, and the impact of your decisions today have on that path. Though as an aside, I will say this point may have been lost on her peers as a boy, whose parents I know well, described himself as married to a stripper. Not sure what his job entailed.

From there, we go a bit sideways in my our-family-is-a-bunch-of-freaks mentality.

They played a game designed to touch on budgeting and to demonstrate the impact of bad choices. But the parameters were all out of whack. Among the things they were required to work into their budget were student loan debt, a car note, and a mortgage. I'll concede the last one. It is tough not to have a mortgage, especially at 30. My main objection, however, was the complete subservience to a culture of debt. The ingraining of the idea that indebtedness was ok, normal, and you should plan to have lots of it. The notion that student loans are inevitable. Never mentioning that one can pay cash for a car. (We did it this spring and let me tell you how much more you think about that purchase when you are writing a check as opposed to financing it.)

I asked Morrigan if she said anything. She tried to fight the good fight, letting the facilitators know she was planning to save up and pay cash for her car, get scholarships and work her way through school, but she was told that everyone had to have debt.

Nice message people.

Naturally, I was ramping up to call the school and register my complaints but I was quickly shot down by one 13 year old who deemed such actions "embarrassing." I may yet talk to the principal, mostly to advocate for presenting the other side, that one can save up for the things you want. That debt limits your options and freedom. All these kids have a chance to start out clean and not make the mistakes we all made. How many people do you think would have been better off since the market crashed in 2008 if they had been debt free with an emergency fund, rather that mortgaged up to their eyeballs and living beyond their means? 

My own silver lining was when Morrigan told me, "Don't worry Mom, I know you don't have to borrow money." Guess if I can't indoctrinate the world, I'll just start here at home.

1 comment:

  1. wait a minute!!! You are telling me that JMMS invited a speaker from THE GOODWILL??? WTH? How in the world is that inspirational or thought provoking? To tell the kids they are going to have to expect to have mediocre lives with student loans and debt?! That's so lame. No other speaker came to mind? There are plenty of successful and inspiring people in our town. Why give young people reality checks? Why would you want to squelch dreams or aspirations? You should complain FOR SURE.