Economies and social norms go through cycles. Over generations peoples views change and are moulded by the things going on around them and the values and mood of the day.
If you look at fiscal responsibility and being savvy with money we need to look at a timeline to get an idea of what I am getting at and why there is hope for the current generation.
The generation that grew up during the Great Depression of the 1930s (I added the date because I know of a 17 year old who has no idea when it was and I know he is not alone) and learnt lessons during dark economic times which positively shaped their attitude to life and finances; they lived within a budget, were entrepreneurial, saved money and propelled the global economy from the 1950s to the early 1970s like no time before in modern history.
Skip forward to the generation my parents grew up in, the baby boomer generation, and by sheer numbers alone they swept everything up before them. They seemed to have learnt little from their struggling parents who brought the boomer generation up in the unprecedented good times and proceeded in the 1970s - till now really because of their sheer numbers, to go on an orgy of drugs, sex, debt, share buying, house buying and then more house buying all on an orgy of credit (and took some of my generation along with them) and it is clear that the economy has suffered (in the 1990s and now) as a result of their carelessness with money, failure to live within their means and their arrogance of numbers.
My generation, generation X, who grew up in the 1980s and 90s are a bit confused when it comes to finances. We got the crumbs from the table of the boomers so some of us learnt early on that we must forge out on our own because "nobody owes us a living" and we just have to do it ourselves. Parallel to that though, we also had some of my generation that thought people like me owed them a living and decided to drop out of the competitive environment, seek welfare and stay on it and bleed the economy dry. Those tough times at home and abroad really shaped me and others as entrepreneurs and savers and will lead to a more sound, rational and sustainable economy - at least for the medium term - during our time at the head of the table. Forget about the other part of my generation, we will deal with them at some other stage...nah, lets just cut the mothers off!
I have much more hope for the generations that were born in the 1980s to early 2000s though and my baby who is two years old (I am a late starter - see above re boomers) .They are growing up in economic times that are second only to the Great Depression and lessons learnt from some of my generation and what they are experiencing now will shape these kids into the same sorts of people that were born out of the 1930s. Highly independent, fiercely entrepreneurial and able to live within a budget.
It is looking good for the future.
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c Share Investor 2011