I’m officially joining the chorus of moms out there ready to ban the words “YOLO” and “FOMO” from our vocabulary.
There’s Dairy Queen, YOLO!
Six Flags Zumanjaro, YOLO!
And more recently . . . One Direction concert?
Can’t stand ‘em, but let’s go - FOMO!
But I also get it, especially with kids (and many adults) who crave instant gratification.
Just last week, for example, there was a great New York Times article on the all the amazing benefits of opening up a Roth IRA for teenagers with a summer job. But even the author was quick to point out that having a 19-year old save for retirement would be a hard sell.
I mean, can tax-deferred savings where you won’t reap the benefits for another 45 years really compete with going out to dinner with friends or a grande caramel frappuchino RIGHT NOW? (Not to mention perhaps more immediate, real needs like paying for gas!)
Perhaps not, at least not right away. But just like any lesson we try to instill in our kids (or ourselves), it may take one, two, …thirty times before something finally sets in.
In the meantime, here are a few things you can do to start planting the seed that saving for something in the future – whether it’s an iPad mini, college spending money or, gulp, even retirement(!)- can co-exist with YOLO and FOMO!
1) Have resources around: I’m taking a page from my mom’s handbook. She used to give me articles and books, “just in case” I had time. I ignored 95% of them but now that I’m older, I appreciate the 5% that I didn’t.
Tread carefully here; you don’t want to overdo it, or just be a nag in disguise. So choose only those resources that are really compelling, well written and age-appropriate. (A recent one I discovered that would be great for older teens or 20-sometimes is I Can Teach You To Be Rich by Ramit Sethi, who has a fun, irreverent style)
2) Open an account anyway: Depending on your financial institution, you should be able to open up a savings account or Roth IRA without fees involved. Even if the account only has the minimum balance for a while, having one there sets a certain expectation of depositing money in there eventually.
3) Share: Be willing to share your own stories about setting aside money for something later, or times when you didn’t and regretted it. As in the point above, tread carefully here so that it doesn’t become a lecture. Keep it short and make your “lesson” anecdotal and light, rather than preachy. When done right, kids actually crave and appreciate this connection.
4) PASA! – Here’s my lame attempt to come up with a cool, contrarian acronym: Patiently Awaiting Something Awesomer. (I know, totally lame and yes, expect your teenager to roll their eyes as mine did!).
If the words or sentiment of YOLO/FOMO arise, ask if there might be something EVEN BETTER that might be worth waiting for. So instead of going to the One Direction concert, what about saving up for, say, the Iggy Azalea one with closer seats? Instead of going out for frozen yogurt for the umpteenth time, what about making a date with friends to shop for some new fall clothes in September?
In the end, YOLO or FOMO may still win out at times – as it should! We all need some instant gratification moments and purchases once in a while.
But at least PASA has a fighting chance to balance out some of them out. For you or your teen. While retirement might be a hard sell, just introducing the concept of waiting or pausing to think before spending lays a great foundation – at any age.
*YOLO = You Only Live Once
*FOMO = Fear Of Missing Out
~Jennifer Faherty is a Certified Life Coach, specializing in helping women find their passion and develop a healthy relationship with money. She can be found at www.jenniferfaherty.com or on Twitter @jenniferfaherty.