Tue | May 24, 2022

Parenting for the next recession

Published:Monday | January 18, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Mel Cooke, Gleaner Writer

Our two daughters, now nine and eight years old, got their first Monopoly game as a Christmas gift (not from us) this year. So naturally, in short order, we were gathered around a table with stacks of paper money in front of us and dreams of real estate development in our heads.

Soon the younger one (she who was prone to charge 100 per cent interest on a $50 loan a few years ago) was the proud owner of Connecticut, Vermont, and Oriental. Laden with houses and chortling, she held out her hand and demanded "my rent please!" from all who were unlucky enough to 'cotch' on her property.

Not long after, though, she was springing water like the heavy showers we had recently, hollering for blue murder because she was running very low on cash and in danger of becoming bankrupt.

It was all really, really funny, but there is a lesson to be learnt in that Monopoly debut. Just where we are in what is reputedly the worst economic recession in about 80 years is anybody's guess. But while most economists seem to agree that our First World overlords are in a recovery stage, it does not seem that Jamaica will be turning the corner anytime soon, not with the IMF strictures which slammed us on Friday and will continue squeezing us for generations to come.

Approaching personal finance

I was all of six or seven years old when, for some, 'IMF' meant 'Is Manley Fault' and, I suspect, our grandchildren will be at least in single digit years before we even start to see the light of day without the funding agency's heavy hand on our necks. So, it is up to us to pass on to the generations we are raising the approach to personal finances which will be required to even survive, much less thrive, in economic times which will get much, much worse before they start to get better.

And that post-Christmas Day Monopoly game is a good starting point in teaching lessons about going out too fast, too quickly. For as much as we are awed by the blazing speed of Usain Bolt, Asafa Powell, Veronica Campbell-Brown and Shelly-Ann Fraser in this 'instant' society where we walk around with the capability to receive news from around the world in our pockets, life is not a 100-metre dash. Heck, it is not even a 400m or 800m, or even a marathon. It is more like those walk races which seem to take forever, the athletes using their rolling gait and strategising where to conserve and where to expend energy, reserving just that much for the final push to the finish line.

The life equivalent of that finish line is retirement and we have to teach our children how to keep that steady walking-race pace towards it, planning their surges - like house purchase - along the way. And we have to teach them the difference between picking up the pace just to impress the crowd at the expense of their overall objective - like buying a flashy car that you cannot really afford and do not need.

They will be living through a recession, official or not, in this country for a very, very long time to come and, even if they migrate to cooler, more cash-rich climes, for people of a particular hue it will always be a recession, wherever they go.

The Monopoly game turned out well for that eight-year-old purchaser of many houses on Connecticut, Oriental and Vermont. Her sky-high rentals paid off and she was soon smiling again - but she was very, very lucky. That alone will not work.

It's a bit like depending on the SuperLotto instead of an education.