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Attention readers: The following column is an excerpt from Mary Hunt's book "Raising Financially Confident Kids."

It is strangely ironic that the freedoms and affluence we enjoy in our society are the very things that stand to ruin our children if not addressed early and effectively.

The consumer credit industry is doing all it can to get your kids to fall for the buy-now-and-pay-later lifestyle. If you do nothing to intervene, statistics indicate your child is headed for a life that will be severely impacted not by credit -- credit is not the problem here -- but by the debt it can create.

When the following three characteristics occur at the same time in the heart and mind of a child, they create a perfect storm that often ends in disaster:

  • Attitudes of entitlement.
  • Financial ignorance.
  • Glamour of easy spending.

For our debt-proofing purposes, "entitlement" is that demanding attitude that says, "I deserve it now even if I haven't earned it or cannot pay for it." Some call it "the gimmes"; others call it the "I wants." No matter what you call it, this attitude is running rampant, and not only among kids. Entitlement affects kids and adults alike.

Entitlement is subtle. It creeps into our lives when we compare our lifestyles and possessions to those of the people we respect and want to be like. It shows up in new parents who throw all caution to the wind when it comes to nursery furnishings and "mandatory" equipment. It shows up in two-income families who, because they work so hard, feel they deserve to have nice things. It shows up in adults who feel compelled to conform to society's relentless ratcheting up of standards.

Entitlement is the standard message of marketing and advertising. Look carefully at everything that shows up on TV or in your mailbox this week. From the television ads encouraging you to "Drive the Car you Deserve" to the well-known, "You Deserve a Break Today," it is pervasive. The message to keep up is relentless. The push for conformity creates attitudes of dissatisfaction and entitlement.

At every turn, it seems something or someone is fanning the flames of entitlement in our lives -- and our children's lives, too.

Attitudes of entitlement, both yours and your children's, are an enemy that, if not dealt with, will surely sabotage your efforts to develop financial confidence in your kids.

A frugal lifestyle, where you live below your means, is the best environment in which to raise kids. When children observe their parents consuming carefully, making wise spending decisions, choosing not to buy the biggest and the best and not living on credit, they begin to adopt those values.

By telling your children, "We don't choose to spend our money on that," you send a positive message that you have money but make intelligent choices about how to spend it. Modeling restraint in your own spending habits is a great message for your kids to pick up.

Clearly, attitudes of entitlement are a serious problem. But they are not terminal. Diligent parents who are willing to be consistent examples and limit-setters will find success in tearing down attitudes that have the potential to do great harm.

Would you like more information? Go to EverydayCheapskate.com for links and resources for recommended products and services in this column. Mary invites questions, comments and tips at EverydayCheapskate.com, "Ask Mary." This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of EverydayCheapskate.com, a lifestyle blog, and the author of the book "Debt-Proof Living."

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