I received quite a few emails and comments in response to Saturday’s post, How Much Do You Rely on Your Parents for Money, and I wanted to expand upon the subject. I know quite a few people who turn to their parents for money and I am not always opposed to financially secure parents providing for their children and/or grandchildren.
For me, personally, it all boils down to responsibility. I have a few friends who live a clean, responsible life. They work hard and live within their means, but their parents provide them with the extras in life that they could not otherwise afford. For example, the parents fly their children across the country and spend money on food and lodging expenses while on vacation. Similarly, a commenter on Saturday’s post mentioned a grandparent who pays for her son’s sports equipment.
I also have friends who simply don’t make much money. Some work for non-profits, some are teachers, others are social workers. Some of them struggle to pay for anything other than bills. They are willing to make less in order to help the greater good, but this often forces them to live paycheck to paycheck. Again I don’t have a problem with a financially secure parent who wishes to help their responsible, but underpaid child buy a car, provide a down payment or help pay some other bills. As I stated in my last post I clearly don’t have a problem with a parent who helps a child who is down on his or her luck due to job loss, medical issues or similar problems.
However, I will admit that I take umbrage with children who milk off their parents while living financially irresponsible lives. This would include children who take extravagant vacations, buy luxury vehicles, wine and dine at expensive establishments, and buy clothes, electronics and other non-essential items that they cannot otherwise afford. In essence, if you are carelessly living beyond your means than I do not think your parents should bail you out. It’s really as simple as that.
Am I being too harsh and judgmental? Probably, but why does that person feel entitled to live a life they cannot afford and why do they expect their parents to pay for their extravagant choices? As I mentioned in my last post I am most amazed by those individuals who earn a decent living, outspend their paycheck, and then turn to parents who truly struggle to make ends meet for money. It’s one thing if your parents are well-off, it’s another if you’re taking money from their much-needed retirement fund.
I was surprised when the author of Hot (broke) Messes, (which I blogged about on Saturday), said she was not a ‘doggie bag kind of woman.’ How can you feel strange about carrying a doggie bag out of restaurant, but not feel absolutely horrible about asking your parents for money they struggled to earn? How can you not realize that your parents paid for the chicken you left behind, when they helped repay your debts?
I suppose it’s a difference of personality. A difference of values. A simple difference of what you think you deserve. Knowing that my parents rarely travel and never go to the spa, I simply would not rack up credit card charges for luxury vacations and expensive facials and then expect them to pay my bills.
Towards the end of the book the author says, “there are certain things I cannot give up: A skim vanilla latte from Starbucks a couple of times a week. A skim chai from Tryst, a coffeehouse in my neighborhood, once or twice a week. A few glasses of Sanceree and couple of appetizers with my closest friends at my neighborhood bar. An occasional trip to the Middle East or Latin America. A trip to New York every couple of months to visit family.”
I’m afraid in the real world, (a world in which parents do not bail out financially irresponsible children), the list above can all be ‘given up.’ In defense of the author, she wrote Hot (broke) Messes in order to fund her extravagant lifestyle, but if her book sales do not add up, she could and should give up all of those items. After all in a world in which you proudly stand up on your own two feet, you can cut out everything but life’s true necessities.