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Generation X & the Silly Season

Gen X

Poised precariously between the Baby Boomers and the Millennials, Generation X represents those currently aged between 40 and 55 – and, if you are one of their numbers, you’ll relate to how much there is to manage and afford. Here’s a clever guide for holiday planning and budgeting.

Gen X

Born between 1965 and 1980, the research on GenX-ers reveals that they were young during a time of moms entering the workplace and a growing divorce rate. But contrary to this having a negative effect on this generation, they are probably the most independent group yet and, in middle age, are seen to be busy, bubbly and the first group to really get the work-life balance right. GenX-ers also reveal heightened entrepreneurial qualities.

With the approach of the summer holidays and both ageing parents and kids of all ages to attend to, along with year-end work pressures, I tell my Gen X personal brand clients it is important to:

1) Prioritise, by making a list each day of what you strictly need to get done; and
2) Say no to things you won’t be able to get to in this frantic silly season.

In terms of budgeting for holidays, the same two points apply. You do not need to go on holiday to an expensive destination – a staycation at home can be much restorative. Or, simply hire a cottage at the beach where the whole family can be together while doing their own activities, i.e. surfing and watersports, reading and napping in a hammock, walks on the beach and cooking. Nominate a sibling who’s not work-stressed to organise the Christmas dinner; everyone can bring something to avoid one person carrying all the costs. Agree on an amount that everyone must stick to when it comes to gifts; or just buy for the kids.

Worried about entertainment for teenagers and inclined to throw (pocket) money at the problem? Be aware that the research shows “helicopter parenting” is harmful; Gen X-ers are a resilient and pragamatic bunch, so trust your instincts. Let minor issues go and rather intervene swiftly when a matter is truly harmful or destructive. A crowd doing drugs and alcohol? Say no to yur child hanging out with them, with the threat of being grounded. A little too much “screen-time” over the holidays? Allow it if your kids are safe, just steer them towards outdoor games when you are around.

Gen X

Be astute, and ask your older teen to assist grandma with her groceries or to visit her regularly for a chat and coffee. The Baby Boomers have the knack of asking pertinent questions about activities and encouraging nice boyfriends…

An important part of being able to work effectively, especially if you are a single parent and your younger kids are on holiday, is knowing they are safe. So an arrangement like holiday club in the mornings and the ability to work at home on your laptop in the afternoons may be first-prize; negotiate with your boss (the self-employed score here!)

I tell my time-pressed personal branding clients who feel overwhelmed by work, kids, parents and finances, to be as organised as possible by drawing up a plan and a budget that allows them to live within your means and keep everyone as happy as possible. Here are a few great tips:

  • Get younger kids to make gifts for the grandparents at holiday club;
    • Avoid eating out in restaurants and rather make simple and healthy dinners at home’
    • Forget keeping up with the Joneses. Explain to your older kids what is affordable for you and what is not;
  • Save on cleaning and gardening services by getting everyone to pitch in;

• Join forces with other working parents and agree to each take one day off to be home with the kids, so they are supervised but you don’t miss work unnecessarily;

gen x

  • There are numerous free and low-priced things to do during your downtime, such as road trips and picnics; hikes and beach visits; the library for books and museums for inspiration (often free on public holidays). Or browse at art galleries and outdoor markets; walk your dogs more often than in term time; and spend time in your own backyard, swimming, braaiing and playing outdoor games.

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