If you have young daughters, or spend time with your nieces, grand-daughters, or other young girls, we recommend you read a thought-provoking article penned last week by Chelsea Emery at Reuters.
In her article Spa parties and money-smart daughters, Emery argues that we unwittingly reinforce gender-stereotypes that stunt girls’ financial education and turn them into materialistic shoppers rather than strategic savers.
“My seven-year-old daughter, Annabelle, recently attended her third spa party in the last 18 months. She put cucumbers on her eyes, wore a chocolate mask on her face and got her toenails polished by adult attendants.
In contrast, her 8-year-old friend Aleksandar had a birthday party in which he asked for donations for a $400 Lego “Death Star” puzzle, rather than individual gifts.
Is it any wonder that Annabelle and her girlfriends want to spend their allowance on nail polish, while Aleksandar, having raised the money to buy his Lego set, has begun saving for a sports car?”
Annabelle’s plight is the kiddie version of that confronting narrator Carrie Bradshaw in an episode of Sex and the City. Successful NYC columnist and thirty-something Carrie prepares to buy her first Manhattan apartment when it goes condo, only to discover that she has only $957 in the bank, having piddled away the $40,000 she needs for a downpayment on her designer shoe collection and drinks with the girls.
Even when we take the initiative to teach our daughters (and sons) about money and investing, we have to realize that our best efforts may be undone, says Emery, by the “financially crippling” messages our girls are bombarded with on a daily basis.
Emery puts forth several practical ideas on how to counteract the “I ♥ shopping” mantra and make our girls more entrepreneurial and financially responsible. For example, encourage the lemonade stand and involvement in groups like the Girl Scouts. Teach the difference between wants and needs, rethink the over-the-top materialism of the birthday party, and combat affluenza by preaching self-reliance and staying within your budget.
Feedback: What do you think? Is Emery correct that girls are “pressured by subtle social cues to value appearance over saving?” If so, what can you do as a parent to make sure the money-savvy message still gets through?