A thought had always crossed my mind as I was growing up, especially during my formative high school years, during when I often pondered my existence and direction in life. This prevalent thought was whether, if I had a choice, I would want to grow up rich and affluent compared to my peers, or whether I would want to grow up less affluent.
I know the thought might seem like a no-brainer, OF COURSE one would want to grow up wealthy and affluent, but there are some downsides to this, even though it might not seem apparent at first. However, these downsides might not happen to everyone who is born wealthier than the rest.
So like I always do here on youngandthrifty.ca, I think I'm going to do a blatant pros and cons list:
Pros For Growing Up Wealthy
- As offspring of a well-to-do family, you may be well rounded as you have access to every course or extra-curricular activity available. You are enrolled in hockey, soccer, basketball, golf lessons, expensive piano classes, French lessons, or figure skating- the list goes on.
- You are taught to be more of an advocate for yourself, you can speak your mind (even if the audience likely isn't interested in what you say, you say it anyway)
- Because your parents have connections, you are given more opportunity, much like what is mentioned in the excellent book by Malcolm Gladwell “The Outliers: The Story of Success”
Cons For Growing Up Wealthy
- Your parents gave you anything and everything that you ever wanted, the latest gadget, the latest car, and even a shiny new Mercedes Benz on your 16th birthday. Some may argue that this is not a “con” but the expectation of instant gratification (an unfortunate trait that us Generation Y possess and is a prime reason why Generation Y's can't save $) is ten-fold compared to this trait in regular old Generation Ys.
- Wealthy children may not know the “value of a dollar” as they did not need to work through high school or university, their parents funded their education and made sure they “focused on their studies” (as we all know this can be detrimental later in life, as money sense and learning about saving, investing, and spending responsibly doesn't necessarily come intuitively).
- Not being taught about saving and investing, silver spoon kids can easily burn through the money given to them
- If your parents are really successful, it is likely that you will have a difficult time exceeding their success. Doctor parents try and get their children into medical school, but they can't, and having “doctors in the family” just doesn't cut it any more. Having a silver spoon in your mouth doesn't necessarily guarantee success.
- Because silver spoon children have everything they could possibly ask for, they often don't have the drive to succeed. It doesn't matter to them whether they are successful or not because they haven't ever seen what it was like to live without. Success isn't measured in how much money you make or how much you are worth (although many would definitely argue otherwise), to me, it is measured by how you reach your personal life goals and how motivated you are to reach those goals
That being said, there are many families that are successful in a monetary sense who have children that grow up to be very well rounded individuals. These children are taught to value discipline, hard work, and money sense. I suppose it could really just boil down to good parenting, but that's another topic entirely!
I thought about this question often because I grew up very frugally in a nice part of town. I didn't realize this until I went to high school, and I saw all these sixteen year old peers driving up in their fancy cars with the top down. It made me realize that all the kids around me were a) spoiled b) very wealthy and c) didn't realize how lucky they were. When I was in my self-conscious anxiety-ridden and low self-esteem (not to mention SELF ABSORBED) teenage years, I wished nothing more than to be “just like them” to fit in with the wealthy crew and to have the same brand name clothes that they had.
As I reach my late twenties and realize that I was being very superficial and immature in my teenage years (er…who's NOT superficial and immature as teenagers?), I am very happy that I had this opportunity to be different and grateful for my perspective on success and wealth.
Readers, what do you think? Would you rather grow up wealthy or grow up less wealthy… but with a determination and drive to succeed?