what message are you sending?

Here’s a tshirt I saw on a little girl once, which read:

1. I want it.
2. You buy it.
3. Any questions?

I doubted the kid chose such a ridiculous shirt – I know from personal experience that kids are more likely to clamor for Angry Birds or Cars t-shirts than they are for ones with words – so what parent would buy such a shirt?

My first reaction was to hope that it was meant just the way it sounds – as a joke. My son (who was a reluctant napper in his toddlerhood) had a t-shirt that said “Naps are the enemy.” It’s a joke. I put it in the same category as “I’m with Stupid” t-shirts. But part of me thinks that this message, humorous or not, is going to be repeated again and again around the child, to the child, and (because it’s funny) approvingly. I don’t want my kids to think naps are a bad thing, and I don’t want this girl to think she gets anything she wants just because she asks for it.

That t-shirt summarizes an awful lot of what is wrong with the debt/consumer society. Could you imagine what kind of values that little girl is going to have if she continually sees her parents whipping out the credit card to buy her every little toy (now) or shoes or makeup (later) when she demands it? She’s going to be a financial wreck when she finally goes out on her own. The saddest thing is that her parents probably think they are being nice. There is a saying that “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.” If a parent thinks they are being nice to a child by giving in to their every desire – giving them a “perfect childhood” – they are laying the groundwork for the road to (financial) hell.

So what would you put on a t-shirt? Would you wear this one:

let me tell you how to be rich

  • step 1: spend less than you earn
  • step 2: figure out how to earn more
  • step 3: start over at step 1

It’s not funny, because I couldn’t think of anything clever, but give me some ideas – there has to be a cute or clever way to get this message across. “My piggy bank can kick your piggy bank’s a**?”

What’s the slogan for your t-shirt?