Sunday, September 27, 2015

Profile Of An Upper Middle Class Family Living Beyond Its Means

In previous posts I've called attention to the 'Cult of the Kid' in this country and how in many Middle Class families the kids rule and their desires take precedence over the family's well being including financial, e.g.

Now in the latest MONEY magazine (October, 2015, p. 71) we read of the travails of the Jones family of Folsom, CA.  A family with a combined income of $146,000 /yr. But which can barely make ends meet, "going month to month with little or no money to spend" or "hardly any time to spend on anything else".  The worst part is the parents (Steve and Siobhan - he an Intel engineer, she a teacher) have virtually nothing set aside for retirement, barely $9,500 put away for emergencies, and just $7,000 for college for their four boys - which they estimate will eat up nearly a half million smackeroos based on where these kids want to go.

When one reads the article, one beholds it's a classic case of a family living well beyond its means because they have allowed their soccer fanatic boys to "rule the roost" and basically enabled their "passion for soccer" to dictate the priorities of the family pocketbook. Are we supposed to feel sorry for this family? I think not. The only thing I really bemoan is the parents' inability to read the 'riot act' to these brats and tell them if they love soccer- fine- there's large play lots out there so form a neighborhood game and go for it.

Thus, as in my previous post, I have to declare these parents wimps. According to studies disclosed in a 2012 WSJ piece ('A Field Guide to the Middle Class U.S. Family', p. D2, March13), this is the nature of the American middle class now: perpetual wimps - giving in to anything their kiddies want, and worse, sometimes even acting as their slaves. The Jones parents, Steve and Siobhan, certainly appear to be soccer slaves to their 4 boys.

So let's get to particulars. Exactly what are these jokers doing to have dug themselves into such a hole? They're shelling out some $17, 400 a year for "soccer related activities" for their kids to play in an "elite"  Youth Soccer Association. This  includes: "specialized private coaches, $100 cleats, fees alone running $675 a month,  and $6,200 in one year to travel to eight tournaments".

Reading all this it's no wonder these knotheads have nothing left for emergencies, or their sons' future college - or their own retirement.

What to do? MONEY's genius expert recommended "tapping into their home equity" to jump start  college savings, along with "extending the terms of their mortgage". Nothing, not one word about telling the four brats to give up the elite coaching and  soccer league baloney and stick to humble play in their own neighborhoods. (The boys evidently believe, well at least one, he may get a special NCAA  scholarship to college based on his soccer skills, totally ignoring the reality that most of these scholarships "barely cover fees and books"(ibid.).

Have the parents ever sat down with Junior to tune him into reality? Likely not, because the bane of most American Middle Class parents is to prevent any reality from breaking into their kids' lives and disrupting the delusions.

But clearly it's time they did because pandering to the bratskies' passions is not doing this Jones bunch any good, so it's time for tough love.

In our day my brothers and I craved sports too. Hell, we'd go out every chance we got to play sandlot baseball with the neighbor kids.  But we never ever entertained any freaking delusions that we'd one day win college baseball scholarships or ever play in the Minors, far less Major Leagues. Mind you, there were none of these exclusive junior sports associations and clubs back then either - to suck up a family's money and make them believe simple competition was the path to later success.

According to the parents, on justifying their lavish, spendthrift soccer ways:

"They get to mix with quality kids, they're doing something good for them and they're learning life skills that will help them get on in the world."

Please, spare me the drivel. They can mix with 'quality kids' closer to home without traveling all over the damned place via some interleague competitions. They can do "something good" by maybe volunteering in a soup kitchen or mounting clothing drives for the homeless like a lot of other kids. They can learn life skills in sundry other ways that don't require $6,200 a year tabs for taking them to soccer tournaments.

But letting these little fools have the time of their little lives with their soccer fantasies while ruining the family finances and future plans is just plain nuts.

Again, a case of parents spoiling their twerps and you can be sure they will also mutate into 'helicopter parents' when they reach college - if they ever do.

No comments: