For the last 20 years of my life, I have been funded by the bank of mom and dad. All of my expenses: food, housing, education, clothing, hobbies, and anything a growing girl need has been paid for by my parents. And for eighteen years of my life, that was socially acceptable.
In fact, my dad didn’t want me to get a job. His exact words were, “whatever you want, I’ll buy it for you. You have your whole life to work.” Which was all fine and dandy until I wanted to buy myself a swimsuit, and it wasn’t in the family’s budget.
So at 16, I got a job. I wanted the freedom to purchase what I wanted, but working has provided me more than I ever thought possible. Thanks to applying for that first job and taking that leap of faith, I met my boyfriend of three years, made a solid community of friends, got invaluable job experience, and learned a lot about money and money management.
While working while going to school can be an article unto itself, that’s not the focus of today’s article. Because my primary takeaway from this work experience is that even though I am lucky enough to have parents who can provide for my every need, I don’t want them to.
I knew a girl in high school whose dad gave her a credit card that her dad paid off every month. I recall her bragging in class one morning that she spent over 500 hundred dollars at chick-fil-a. I can confidently say that being a financial burden on my parents is not a source of pride.
I also know that many college students are financially in very different places. I have a college friend whose parents pay for her tuition and rent; I have another friend whose parents haven’t given her a dime towards her education.
Total transparency, my parents have offered to pay for my tuition every so long as I don’t drop or fail a class. While I haven’t taken them up on it every semester, they have historically and generously reallocated that money into places that would help me, like paying off my car. My dad has also been putting money towards my FAFSA loan.
I am writing this article from a place of privilege. I not only have parents who love me and desire to support me, but they also have the resources to do so. I am unmeasurably lucky to have them and even luckier still to be able to decline the offers of them helping pay for my school sometimes.
However, I am increasingly seeing the value and importance of becoming financially independent from my parents. I pay my rent, utilities, most of my school, groceries, and this coming year, I will be taking on more expenses like car insurance. Becoming financially independent is part of growing up and is a goal I have had for years.
I would rather have the freedom to make my own decisions and have more of a financial burden placed on me than be debt free and in another major that someone else has chosen for me. While this may seem like it’s out of the left field, I know many kids who are often forced to choose between a career they would love and a major their parents approve of.
I know people who have given up their dreams because their parents disapproved of them, and they couldn’t afford the outrageous cost of school if their folks didn’t help them out a little bit.
Looking at this from a parents perspective, I can see why parents would want there kids to persue a busisness degree over an art degree. The future us more certain, and they want their kids to be successful.
However, this line of reasoning is most often a product of fear. Instead of encouraging and suporting your kids so that they can achieve in a feild that they are gifted in, I have seen parents instead make themselves a stumling block in their childrens road to success.
I also know people who have taken the opposite route. Their parents refused to help them if they disapproved of the major, and they chose the hard way. They took out loans, applied for more financial aid, and got another job, but most importantly, they refused to give up on themself because they knew what they wanted and what their goal was. They knew they could achieve it.
I greatly respect them because they wouldn’t minimize her dreams. After all, someone else didn’t understand them. They know all too well that nothing is ever given for free. Sometimes assistance from family can come with so many strings attached that the financial assistance isn’t worth accepting.
You can put yourself in a place where you are financially indebted and feel emotionally obligated to do things you wouldn’t usually be okay doing.
And again, this brings me back to the idea that it’s better to build a life for yourself that you can imagine living than to try and make yourself live the life someone else imagined for you.
However, my primary motivation for wanting to become more financially independent is the guilt and the stress that comes with relying on another human for your income. It ate me up inside for a long time, knowing that I wasn’t where I was because I had earned it; I was because my parents could afford it.
Then there was the additional guilt from the idea that the money was wasted on me. With all the money my parents were spending on me, that was money that wasn’t going toward my brothers or donated to people who needed it.
And then the classic parent-child argument of “my house, my rules.” It didn’t matter how old I was; I was a child living in my parent’s basement, and no candles on my birthday cake would change how grown up my parents saw me. A biiter pill to swollow is that parents are were well withing their right to ask me to respect the rules in their home.
Even though living on my own is stressful at times, and having a roommate comes with its own set of challenges, the freedom to go wherever I want whenever I want is priceless.
If I want my friends to come over and dye my hair till one in the morning, no one else is negatively affected by this choice except maybe my sleep. If I want to pick up my friend from the bar so I know they get home safe, I can do that, and I won’t wake anyone else up when I open the garage. On the flip side, if I wanted to lay in my bed all day and read, there was no one there to stop me.
But most importantly, I have the knowledge that I am capable of making it on my own. I think there is a special kind of confidence that comes from making your first rent payment, putting the groceries you purchased in the fridge and cooking with them, writing your first check, successfully creating a budget (and maybe not sticking to it), and that result from the growing pains of becoming an adult.
I no longer have to wonder if I can be a functioning adult. With my parents cheering me on, I have been slowly becoming an adult I am happy with. I love my family, I miss them, and I especially miss my baby brothers every second of every day. However, I also know that splitting from my parents fiscally has taught me a lot about money, myself, and my relationship with my parents; you simply cannot put a price on that knowledge.
So if you have the ability, I would encourage you to work out a budget, and do what you can to take on more fiscal responsibility from your parents. You wont regret the independence and the confidence that it will bring you.