As an adult, do you still get help from you parents? In your family, what's the cost of money?
August 16, 2009 9:28 AM   Subscribe

Money and family. It gets sticky. Moving towards financial independence, and wondering how other people deal with money and their families. What's the rub?

For young adults: (say college to late twenties) how much help do you get from you folks financially? Do you still receive money and in what form? Like, do they help you with the rent still? In emergency situations? Health insurance? Grad school? Is this OK, or is there a rub to getting this money?

For young/middle adult and beyond: do you still receive help from your parents ever and in what form? Buying a house? Help with childcare? Inheritance? What's the rub here? Is there one?

I'm curious because a lot of people I know don't like to admit they still receive help from their folks after college, even though LOTs of people do. I've received help on and off from my family, but I don't like it much, because I always feel like I still "owe" them something, even when it's a flat out gift.

What are the expectations for people who still receive help from their family after they move out, either high school or college? How does it change as you get older and begin your own family?
posted by Rocket26 to Human Relations (60 answers total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
Because money is one of the things that doesn't generally get discussed in polite company, I don't know that there is a norm here.

Some parents will give money to their children without a second thought. Some parents will remind their children of all the times they gave them money as a way to retain some sort of power or control over the children. (You see this a lot on AskMe, actually: "Should I take this money? My mom's a passive agressive control freak who will never let me forget it, but I really need the money!") Whether there's a "rub" depends entirely on your family.

I don't have expectations about my friends' money situation with their parents. Even if I did, so much of it would depend on their parents' financial situation that it wouldn't make sense for me to apply those expectations to myself or to other people I know.
posted by voltairemodern at 9:41 AM on August 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

I'm a 25 year old graduate student, and it's safe to say arrangements vary significantly from family to family. In my case, I receive a bit of birthday and Christmas money from my family, and my dad mails me twenty bucks from time to time. Other than that, I'm completely on my own.

I recognize, however, that other people in my academic department have more parental dependence, including one fellow with a magic credit card, the balance of which his parents pay in full each month. The trade-off in his case is complete accountability: he has to spend a lengthy phone call each month explaining his purchases to his parents. As one might expect, this often involves a fair bit of deceit, doubly so because despite coming from a strongly religious family, he's a heavy drinker who has no issues putting his bar-tabs on this card.

We nearly represent the two extremes as far as young adult independence goes. Most of my friends have parents who help them out on large purchases (e.g. car repairs) and in some cases with phone plans or similarly recurring monthly expenditures. In exchange, the parents expect strong graduate school performance.
posted by mllrstvn at 9:43 AM on August 16, 2009

Young adult. My parents have me on a family cell plan, and they give $200/mo gift, pay for a COBRA extension, and insist on paying for random car repairs (in the name of safety, but things I might let slide otherwise). I don't spend it because I'm too busy (student), but my understanding is they do it because they want to see me happier while they are still alive; they have said they are not of the generation that expects to leave $1M in a will. I think as long as I'm not picking up a drug habit they would be thrilled to hear how I spent it in any way.
posted by gensubuser at 9:44 AM on August 16, 2009

I'm 27 and own a house with a baby on the way. Neither I nor my wife have any financial connections with our parents - we both paid the deposit on our house, etc. My wife's parents contributed paid her rent while she was at college, as they did with her sister. In my case, I lived at home till 24 but paid rent to my parents from the age of 16 and have never had any financial assistance from them other than that subsidized rent (i.e I was only paying $250ish a month).

However we both know that if we did require assistance, we could ask our parents and they would try their best. In either case, though, they're no better off than we are (in terms of disposable income, though they both own their houses outright) but I have no doubt in my mind my parents would remortgage their house if I were in dire straits - but I would never ask them to do this. My parents have zero responsibility for me over the age of 16 and that's sorta the way we all like it.
posted by wackybrit at 9:52 AM on August 16, 2009

I'm 25, totally independent. My parents paid for my housing/food needs all through college; after that they let me live at home. When I got a job, they loaned me, interest-free, the entire sum I needed to buy a car, plus a chunk for spending money to tide me over till I started actually getting paid. That loan's two months from being paid off, though, and I have no other financial connections to them at all.

That said, I also make good money; I have way more than I need even living in a pricey apartment with no roommates. If I ever actually needed help - if I lost my job, or had a medical emergency, for example - I'd probably ask them, and I'm certain they'd do whatever they could. But I'm not regularly receiving any support... any more.
posted by Tomorrowful at 10:05 AM on August 16, 2009

Our 25-year-old niece is coming to live with us while she looks for work in our city. She completed her Master's degree this spring, broke up with her live-together boyfriend, and has exhausted her meager savings. Her parents can't afford to feed her (they're bankrupt) so she's coming to live with us while she gets her life together. We're going to give her free room and board and "walking around money" while she's looking for work.

We'd do it for any of our nieces/nephews -- as long as they were clearly making an effort to find work. We're glad to be able to help in this way and, I joke to my husband, we can look at it as an investment in our future. We have no children of our own so we're being especially good to our niece with the hope she'll take care of us when we're old and frail. ;-)
posted by rhartong at 10:08 AM on August 16, 2009

I should also add, if it's relevant, that we're going to loan our niece enough money to make payments on her credit card and cell phone bills. This is with the provision that she'll pay us back when she's got a job.
posted by rhartong at 10:10 AM on August 16, 2009

Just got married less than a month ago. In my parents words, I'm off the payroll.

I did borrow some money from them after the wedding because job stuff is not working out like we thought/were told it would. And that's going to be paid back because I don't like taking money from people.

I know I could borrow money if I needed it. But really, I'm an adult. I just don't want to.
posted by theichibun at 10:12 AM on August 16, 2009

I'm a 22 year old grad student. My parents haven't given me any serious amounts of money outright since I was an 18 year old college freshman. They DID, however, keep me on their car insurance, health insurance, and so on, so I was receiving support in that form. They also were more or less managing my student loans at the time - although I will ultimately be the person to pay those off. Most of my friends during this time were receiving a significant amount of financial support from their parents (mostly in the form of mllrstvn's aforementioned 'magic credit card'), so I was the odd one out with my situation.

Directly after I graduated, I got my own car insurance, and I have health insurance through the graduate school. I pay my own rent. I am still on the family cell phone plan, but that's about all. (Grad school tuition is not an issue - it's waived in my program, and my stipend is just about enough to cover my living expenses.) If things became truly desperate, I could ask them for help, but they don't have a lot of money to throw my way.
posted by pemberkins at 10:12 AM on August 16, 2009

We are in our mid-to-late-20s, both working full-time and attending school part-time under a mountain of debt from our previous education. My parents aren't in a position to help very much (although they would stretch to do so in a serious emergency), but they have co-signed loans in the past and given us a large personal loan to consolidate less attractive debts in order to make further schooling feasible. My in-laws have fronted us first- and last- month's rent so that we could move out of a bug-infested apartment sooner, and tend to gift us more on birthdays and holidays in ways that obviate expenses we would have had to shoulder ourselves.

In both cases, I would say it falls under the umbrella of helping us out now, while they're still here, rather than a more substantial inheritance.

I should add that it seems to be much more socially acceptable for young adults to rely on financial help from their parents in Canada than in the United States. There are far fewer cases of children leaving (or getting the boot) at 18-on-the-dot to make their own way in the world. We don't necessarily have intergenerational households here, but there is much less emphasis on proving yourself by struggling unnecessarily.
posted by onshi at 10:12 AM on August 16, 2009

Grad student, Canadian

My dad's health and home insurance plans both cover "dependents under the age of 26," so I've been enjoying the fruits of that. My dad's workplace won the lottery shortly after I was born, and part of his cut of that went into an education savings fund that covered some of my undergrad expenses (so between that, scholarships, and my personal savings, I got out of undergrad debt-free). Otherwise, I'm pretty much entirely independent with the exception of an occasional random gift when my mother finds something about my standard of living unacceptable ("those shoes are horrific! I'm buying you a new pair").

In the event of an emergency they'd go miles to help me out, but only my dad works, and the poor bastard is hanging on to his automotive job by the skin of his teeth, so they could only do so much. I'd feel guilty accepting much aid from them; they're in a better place financially, but I'm comfortable enough and probably have better job security right now.
posted by Schlimmbesserung at 10:16 AM on August 16, 2009

I'm 26 and a year out of grad school. My parents helped a LOT through my undergrad, but I was on my own for the MA. They did short-term loan me some tuition when I was in a tight spot, but I paid them back within a month, and they loaned me a couple of months' rent that I still haven't paid back from when I was having trouble getting a job when I graduated, that they're being a lot nicer about on terms than my credit card, so I'm paying that down first. I know if I got into a tight spot they would help me out.

My bf is in law school and his wacky aunt occasionally sends him some money for buying suits and whatever, and his mom will occasionally "accidentally" put something into his line of credit, but he is mostly funding his education by going into copious debt. I know lots of people in law school who are doing the same thing, and other people who (I assume) have lots of help from their wealthy families.
posted by SoftRain at 10:23 AM on August 16, 2009

I'm 25 years old and I support my mother, and my 2 siblings. Obviously, that is not typical. I think most people my age accept whatever their parents are willing to give, but don't solicit help unless they are in a truly difficult situation.
posted by synaesthetichaze at 10:29 AM on August 16, 2009

American, 29, married. My parents' position is that if they can help my husband and myself with things, then they will and do, because they'd rather see us get some benefit from their good fortune while they are alive versus waiting until they are dead. My parents also see no great value in having your kids live in poverty for some sort of educational reason. They helped us out a lot more five or six years ago, when we were much poorer and had poorer-paying jobs. Now, it's just random things that my dad comes to the house to supervise or do, since they're retired. My dad shows love by enclosing things, putting roofs on them, or paving things. It's his thing.

However, my parents paying for us to have trees cut down (even though it was our intention to pay for them, my dad just paid the guys and then never so much as talked to me about how much it cost) is contingent on us not adopting batshit stupid behaviors. If we were wasting money right and left, or spending money on stupid stuff, my parents would feel much more like, well, you guys apparently have cash to burn. This works out mainly because my parents and I share values about money and what is valuable. I imagine it would not work so well if I wanted to be a hippie in Williamsburg or whatever else you can name that to my working class dad would seem frivolous and not like working.
posted by Medieval Maven at 10:30 AM on August 16, 2009

28 year old grad student here. My parents pay for my plane tickets when I come home (twice a year or so) and that's about it. Well, they're also quite generous come birthdays and Christmas, but I don't ask them for extravagant stuff.
posted by number9dream at 10:42 AM on August 16, 2009

I'm 37 and I still occasionally bank at the Bank of Mom and Dad.

My parents are generally keen to voluntarily help us with major life transitions. They paid for a large chunk of our wedding (as did my husband's folks). When we unexpectedly had to move from the UK to Ireland, they paid for our move. They also contributed to the closing costs on our house, which was very nice of them.

My mother's approach to this is very straight-forward. We live in Europe; they live in the US. We're not nearby and they're not around to do the sorts of things they do for my sisters - physically move them into new apartments, buy them clothes for a new job, fix a kitchen sink or install a new toilet. So when we get into a jam here, my mom is pretty inclined to ask "Is this a problem I can fix with money?" and do so.

We don't, like, go over for dinner or anything either, so I have a debit card on an account I share with my dad. Every now and then he drops $100 into it, and every now and then we order pizza with it. Then I call and say "Thanks for the pizza, dad!" and he says "You're very welcome, kiddo."
posted by DarlingBri at 11:03 AM on August 16, 2009

Early twenties here - my parents paid my tuition fees, food & travel at university. My student loan covered the rent. Afterwards they let me live with them rent free till I landed a job, then bought me a £1k car so I could get to work :) They charged me a minimal £200/mo rent until I moved into my own place. Basically, they supported me financially in a way that helped me become financially independent.

My brother is late twenties and has never really been independent. He's considering going back to university to pursue a different career but it would cost 12K in tuition fees alone - my parents are thinking about paying for it, with the understanding that he would stand on his own two feet afterwards.
posted by cardamine at 11:03 AM on August 16, 2009

I'm 25, and though my mother cosigned for me on undergraduate loans, and gave me a couple hundred dollars here and there during college, I've otherwise been largely financially independent from her. I lived at home for a year after college, but I paid rent to help with expenses. I'm on a family cellphone plan, but I pay for my share. All other bills--car insurance, medical, vet bills for my cat, student loan payments, rent, utilities, food--I cover completely.

Mr. WanKenobi is 31 and is more financially entangled with his (wealthier) family for sort of complex reasons. His mother paid for college and for his health insurance for years and even had financial power of attorney for him, but in the long run it ended up causing problems for him financially when she incorrectly filed his taxes a few years back, and he's working on unentangling himself and being 100% financially independent. Though I've been sometimes hit by jealous pangs when his mom has taken him out to, say, buy a new car, watching him deal with the IRS on the phone over this stuff quickly made me feel better about my own situation.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:08 AM on August 16, 2009

Indian, 23, grad student in the US.
My parents are very generous with money and will usually wire or Paypal a few thousand dollars each year when I'm running short of money. I make enough to nominally cover living expenses through my stipend and health insurance and tuition come are paid for by the school, but from time to time, small things start to add up and I ask my parents for some money. They do this very readily.
Prior to grad school, I lived at home and went to college nearby (in India). My parents paid for everything -- tuition (which was not very much), food, clothing, extra expenses etc.
My parents don't believe in the American notion of children having to be completely cut off from the parents and becoming totally financially independent. They are also investing money in companies and real estate in my name.
On the flip side, they want a much greater role in my life than most American parents. The money is not really contingent on this, I'm pretty sure they would help me out no matter what, but it's a symptom of the same attitude. This involves wanting to know about my boyfriends, and how much I'm drinking and where I am located.
posted by peacheater at 11:09 AM on August 16, 2009

And oh yes, they do pay for plane tickets to go back home to India once a year or so, or for vacations with them elsewhere.
posted by peacheater at 11:10 AM on August 16, 2009

26-year-old American. My parents covered nearly all my college tuition, apart from a few thousand I owe my mom "someday." If I go back to grad school, I'll be on my own for that (as will my younger sister if she goes to med school as she plans). I assumed my own health and car insurance a couple years after I graduated; I think new tires was a Christmas present once but otherwise car maintenance has been mine. Until a year ago, my mom sent me $100/mo off-and-on; there were no explicit limitations on how to use it and it made a big difference to me, but I still disliked it and asked her to stop as soon as I could manage without. My dad and stepmom, who are much better off, give me a few hundred a year in birthday and Christmas money and cover my sister's and my cell phones.

Also since graduation, I've been living with an aunt and uncle. (They've done this for several relatives, but I've stayed the longest.) I don't pay rent, but do a lot of the cooking and help with food shopping, chores, and bills. They have three adult kids of their own, but as rhartong said about her niece, there's an expectation that I'll be helpful and generous to them as they age.

I'm starting a new job (tomorrow!) that will be steadier; I expect to find a place of my own by the end of the year and start paying back my debt to my mom.
posted by hippugeek at 11:21 AM on August 16, 2009

American, 24, not married. My parents took out loans to help me through college and are still paying them off. I also have about 20k in loans from college that I'm paying off. I pay those myself and, when I'm in a more stable economic position, plan on slowly paying them back for at least part of the money they spent on my college education.

Aside from being part of the family cell phone plan, I receive no financial support from my parents. That said, if I was in a pinch I know I could ask them for help, or stay with them for a time. My older sister and I have also discussed my borrowing money from her to pay off my student loans all at once, which I could then pay back to her interest-free.

I think it's normal to get help from family, especially in economic times like these where it's getting so hard to find jobs. I know my family would be there for me if I needed it, I'm just one of the lucky ones with a good job.
posted by shaun uh at 11:21 AM on August 16, 2009

I think there's a large cultural difference in the way money flows - at least between American and European families. American kids are loath to admit that they need their parents' help, and their parents are more likely to want/demand that their children should be independent after leaving home. I've noticed that in European countries (at least in Iceland and Portugal), this really isn't the norm. Grown children often stay living with their parents until they move out for the purpose of getting married. Even then, families are much more likely to be helping out with home-type stuff: helping with rent, etc.

At least, this has been my observation.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 11:23 AM on August 16, 2009

I'm 25 and in grad school. My tuition is free and my stipend covers my living expenses, but my parents are incredibly generous. They give me an allowance each month, though usually the money goes straight into the account that will go toward a down payment on my first house, and I never see it. I dip into the money to fund my Roth IRA each year and occasionally if I have a larger expense. They also bought a car for me last year and keep me on their health insurance, even though the university provides a plan. I also receive fairly large lump sums from my grandparents on occasion. I'm not accountable to them for my spending and they have never held this money over my head. I'm not expected to pay it back, but I am expected to help out my children in a similar way, should I have any and should I have the financial means to do so.

My parents' approach has been that they struggled financially when they were in grad school, and they don't want me to be distracted from my studies because of money worries or not be able to take advantage of opportunities because they're too expensive. There are also cultural factors at play here. I was raised in the US from early childhood, but my family isn't American, and we're from a European country where young people live at home for longer and where there's less of a stigma from parents helping them out. My grandparents paid for my parents' first home when they were my age, bought cars for them, and gave my dad $600 when he came to the US, at a time when their monthly income was worth $20.

Sometimes I feel the cultural clash, because I did pick up the values of self-sufficiency and financial independence in school, and I have more financial ties with my parents than most of my friends. Ultimately, our situation works for my family, and that's what's important.
posted by capsizing at 11:31 AM on August 16, 2009

American, early 40s. My mother is a retired widow and I'm an only child; my in-laws have 3 kids including my husband. We are married and child-free; my sisters-in-law have kids. My mother gives us money at Christmas and birthdays (significant for the former, as in enough for a small vacation, and a nice meal out for the latter). Gifts from the in-laws are generous, but gifts.

My parents put me through college and my mother helped me pay for grad school (expenses, since tuition was paid by grant). When I split from my ex in my late 20s, she helped me out with furniture for my new place like a couch and a mattress, but she didn't pay my daily bills, except for my cell phone, which she bought so she wouldn't worry about me breaking down on a back road somewhere as happened to me once when I was in grad school.

When we both lost our jobs in 2003, both families kicked in money and help as needed. His parents loaned us money to move cross-country (and back later) which we paid off. My mother also put in significant time on supervising repairs that proved necessary to sell our house. I suspect my in-laws have given significant financial help to the sister-in-law whose husband has been out of work in his field for a couple of years now, and I know they had the other sister-in-law stay with them for a long time after Katrina, when the family had to evacuate.

So basically our parents and family are there in a crisis, but we expect to handle our own money day to day.
posted by immlass at 11:36 AM on August 16, 2009

That being said, I know people my age in a wide range of situations. I have a friend who didn't go to college because her parents cut her off financially as soon as she turned 18, and my best friend has, due to her parents' health issues, been financially independent since before she went to college, and worked as many as 8 part-time jobs at once in school in order to pay off loans (we went to a pretty expensive private college). I also have a friend whose parents paid for the entirety of his education and are now subsidizing his Manhattan loft apartment, and a friend who has a quarter-mil inheritance heading his way eventually (though he doesn't plan on really using it).

I don't think there is a "norm", and as long as you and your family are comfortable with your situation, I wouldn't worry about it.
posted by shaun uh at 11:41 AM on August 16, 2009

Looking back from the perspective of someone now in my late 30s - among my set (middle class, not affluent, college educated) anything from pretty much full subsidy to virtually no assistance was normal in college. It all depended on what the parents could afford (or if there were some other source like an inheritance or trust from grandparents etc.)

Post college it has mostly been minor financial assistance with occasional emergency or major purchase help. Up until my mid twenties I went to my parents when unexpected financial problems hit - to the tune of a few hundred dollars, perhaps half a dozen times. I never felt any particular social pressure as a result of this sort of assistance. I don't know anyone currently (at least admitting to) living with substantial assistance from their parents now (among the post-30s set that is).

When my wife and I bought a house her parents gave us a substantial loan to assist with the closing costs. While this will be paid off in full (though it's clear they would basically forget about it if we lapsed in repayment) it is interest free. Again among my set this sort of help seems very normal and does not come with inordinate strings attached.

My parents recently gave me and my siblings substantial cash gifts as a result of an inheritance my mother received (her mother, who died a couple years ago, had a house in California which finally was sold). I'm not sure where that kind of thing fits in. There was no obligation for my parents to distribute any of this money, they just wanted to give their kids a nice gift. It's not something I ever expected and won't be repeated (unless they hit the powerball or something), but it's another sort of financial input that came from my parents.

It's possible they're not telling but I don't know anyone who, for example, got their rent paid post college. Much more normal in the case that someone couldn't manage to get together a living wage would be for the individual to live at home for a while - this is far and away the most common major life subsidy I've seen among friends and of course it comes with intrinsic strings of the "our house/our rules" variety, and is also basically indicative of things in life being pretty fundamentally screwed up - not a normal situation, not one to aspire to, and one to get out of as quickly as possible.
posted by nanojath at 11:47 AM on August 16, 2009

My financial ties to my parents ended when I was 21 (nine years ago) - if I could go back and do it again I would have ended the ties a lot sooner. Up until then they paid food/housing/college expenses (tuition was mostly covered by various fee waivers). I paid the last two years of college and related expenses myself. They would probably loan me money if I needed it and I asked them to, but I think I would rather live in my car before I took money from my parents. Provider/dependent is simply not a relationship I ever want to have with them again.
posted by frobozz at 11:49 AM on August 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

I think a lot of it depends on your relationship with your parents.

For instance, I'm 25 years old and a recent university graduate. I took out student loans under my own name as an independent student, but my mother helped me by paying as much half of my residence fees for my first two years. Last year, she paid my rent (for my own apartment, not rez) for the month while I was waiting for the first paycheque of a new job, but that was the extent of her helping me for my third and fourth years of university.

My younger brother and sister, on the other hand, pretty much live off my mother, even though they have their own apartments. My sister's 23 and never had a job, so my mother buys her groceries, pays her bills, and pays her rent. (She's in university with loans under her own name.) My brother, 22, has had jobs on and off; he didn't work at all this summer and my mother paid his rent, bills, and groceries. Now he's in grad school and she's planning on helping him out whenever he needs it.

In return for my mother helping me, I usually pay her phone/internet bills, give her gas money, and give her emergency money. I've now gotten a full-time job that pays quite well, so I'm planning on continuing to help her. My brother just left for grad school and I gave him money for his books. I've paid my sister's rent a handful of times. I borrowed some money from my brother last year to go backpacking in eastern Europe, and I paid him back within a week of returning home.

That said, my mother considers me the "responsible" one, and she thinks of my brother and sister as rather useless. They also have no problem asking for money, whereas asking for help makes me feel like a horrible human being.

Additionally, I know my mother helps us out because her parents pretty much chucked her out when she turned 18 and she ended up marrying the wrong guy because she wanted financial security.

My mother is American, if that helps.
posted by canadia at 12:07 PM on August 16, 2009

American, single, female, forties

My parents paid all of my school-related expenses during my undergrad work--I was responsible for all non-school expenses and worked full-time during the summers to save for this. They also made my (used)car payments for me during my senior year and the summer after I graduated until I found my first "real" job. It was understood that when I moved out after graduation I would be totally responsible for all expenses-- my rent, utilities, insurance, etc. It was also understood that I would be completely responsible for any advanced degrees that I chose to work towards.

I bought my own home ten years ago and did not ask for any help with downpayment, closing costs or mortgage payments, although I know they would have willingly helped with my downpayment. I wanted to feel that I had chosen my new home on my own--and I know if I had accepted financial help from them, I would have felt that I needed to get their blessing on any house that I wanted to purchase.

The only time I have ever asked for financial help since moving out of their home was when I was about 30 and felt that I had no choice but to leave a very well-paying job and take a significant paycut to get out of a mentally, emotionally and physically bad work environment. Asking for financial help from them was one of the toughest things I've ever done, although they did willingly help me by paying a portion of my rent for about 9 months. Originally we agreed that I would pay them back with interest--but when I was in postion to start paying them back they told me that they had decided to gift the money to me.

I was raised to be a very independent person and have been lucky enough to have been steadily employed and have been able to manage my money well--so I've been able to generally avoid having to ask for financial help from family--although I know that it would be given if I was truly in need. I honestly never felt deprived or short-changed by not getting more financial help from my parents--I think it actually helped to make me a smart money-manager and has made me very proud of being able to accomplish what I've done on my own.
posted by bookmammal at 12:23 PM on August 16, 2009

Anecdata, n of 1:
I'm 22, got my B.A., doing nursing pre-reqs at the local community college.
I was always a (compulsively) independent person, but in the last couple years, have mellowed out significantly as far as getting help from my parents. I'm on my dad's insurance, they've helped out with rent, food from the garden, and most recently, an old pickup off craigslist.
My dad's angle, as he told me: after he was 16, he didn't get help from his parents, and he remembered how hard it was. Also, I think he looks at it as an investment in the future -- he'll never be able to retire, so he needs someone to take care of him in his dotage ;).
I definitely feel some guilt about the fact that I'm still not really financially independent anymore (as a hobo, I was financially independent, in that I had no financially), but at the same time, I try to focus on the fact that it allows me to be less stressed out about how I'm going to pay bills/groceries, and focus on school. I admit, it's not information I readily volunteer ("hey, my dad helps with rent"), so I guess there's some shame there. Interestingly, I feel much guiltier about getting help from my dad than I ever did getting foodstamps or other state help.
posted by circle_b at 12:41 PM on August 16, 2009

I realize I didn't really touch on a couple things from your question: expectations, value of money.
Money is valuable, in my family -- we were very broke growing up, lots of arguments about money. The family home was a condemned house that we fixed up after moving into. I feel like I have a thorough understanding of the value of money now.

Expectations: the money I get from my dad comes with the (mostly unstated) expectation that I will be successful at what I do, and that this money is to help me get towards my goals in life. No explicit or overt expectations otherwise, it's never been used as a sword over my head or in any kind of controlling fashion.

Well, other than the pickup truck. I now have to haul anything for him if he asks me to.
posted by circle_b at 12:45 PM on August 16, 2009

I'm a 28 year old grad student. Fortunately, I go to a top school which pays me pretty well and covers health insurance. My parents fund my IRA account (they want me to be financially secure in the long-term) and pay for my cell phone. They also pay for routine medical appointments like the dentist and optometrist. Also, when I go home for Christmas, that is my chance to ask for "gifts". We go shopping at Costco for toiletries, non-perishable foods, small electronics, and I take those home in my big suitcase. People keep asking me why I don't have a car and the reason is that unlike many people, my parents aren't interested in giving me one. This is in heavy in contrast to a friend whose parents bought her a brand new Prius! This same friend also had her parents pay a significant portion of her rent for her expensive Manhattan apartment. My mom kept saying "she's spoiled!!!" I would say I get moderate help from my parents. I don't mind asking for short-term help, but would feel bad about hanging onto their support for an extended time.
posted by qmechanic at 12:49 PM on August 16, 2009

23, college grad. I don't get money from my mom but occasionally she'll buy me groceries even though I don't live with her anymore. I lived at home during college and used grants and then loans that I pay on now. I pay my own bills, insurance, car note and am working to get into my own house this year. I'm sure if I really needed money she would be more than willing to help me out. She's never hesitated before but I just don't ask for it.
posted by grablife365 at 1:02 PM on August 16, 2009

Australian, early 30s. I've been financially independent since I was 15. I've asked for help from the Bank of Mum and Dad exactly three times, each time for less than AU$100 and while I was at uni - they gave me much more than I asked for each time (plus my dad gives me rather substantial cash gifts for my birthday, I surmise because he can't think of what to buy me). My parents have greatly subsidised my sister (now 30), though, mainly because she had my nephew at 17 and needed it more than I - buying her cars and paying rental deposits, etc.

If I really needed money I would ask for it, but I can't imagine being in a position of needing to do so. They have said that they'll pay for part of my wedding if I get married, but if that means reneging control I'd rather pay for it myself.
posted by goo at 1:16 PM on August 16, 2009

American, 28, married.

My parents paid for my (in-state, public) college and room/board. I worked full-time during the summers and a few hours a week during the school year to have spending money. After graduating, I moved back home for a few months to save up money, then moved to my own apartment, and I've been on my own financially ever since. My stepmother sold me her old car when she got a new one (I guess that would be considered help, since she gave me a good deal when she probably could have gotten slightly more money for it with another buyer).

They paid for a portion of our wedding as a gift when I got married. We paid for our own cars, our house, and my master's degree with no outside help.

bookmammal: I honestly never felt deprived or short-changed by not getting more financial help from my parents--I think it actually helped to make me a smart money-manager and has made me very proud of being able to accomplish what I've done on my own.

Seconding this. If we ever got into trouble, both sets of parents would willingly float us some money for the short-term, which we'd repay when back on our feet. But we don't ask for any money, they don't offer it, and I don't really want it. I have a lot of pride tied up in being able to take care of myself financially 100%.

My parents have done pretty well for themselves financially (not wealthy, but quite comfortable) so I imagine I'll have some inheritance coming someday, but I don't count on it. A lot can happen between now and then.
posted by anderjen at 1:26 PM on August 16, 2009

18-year-old student just done with my freshman year at college. I'm attending school in large part on an academic scholarship, so that probably has a bit to do with my situation--I suspect my parents would pay for more if I didn't. On the other hand, right now they pay for very little. I am on their health insurance and they pay my car insurance/registration, but other than that I pretty well pay for everything--rent, food, cell phone, car repairs, etc. They paid for car repairs my first few months, but I've since found myself paying for those on my own as a mode of asserting independence.

I find myself in the middle of the range I see with my friends also at college. Two friends of mine (twin brothers) are entirely independent at age 20 (though I believe they have been since they started college at 18)--they have very little in scholarships and are paying for tuition, rent, food, etc., all on their own. Afaik, their parents don't expect much in return. Another friend of mine, at the same age, has his parents paying for his school, his living expenses, and just bought a house near campus that he is living in and renting out to others. His parents, on the other hand, expect reasonably good grades and clean behavior (drinking is out of the question), though I suspect if they found out said behavior (sure, of course he doesn't drink at our public university/party school) it would end up as just a stern warning rather than cutting off any payment. I doubt they would cut off his funds.

The moral of the story is (as everyone has said), it's very different by family. Personally, I would rather go the route of being financially independent as I would prefer not to give my parents the opportunity to hold anything over my head, even if they're not the sort of people who wouldn't--I just don't like to be in that situation. But not all parents expect much in return.
posted by jgunsch at 1:35 PM on August 16, 2009

It's been fascinating reading the range of responses. Wish I'd been able to see this when I was 18, particularly how many folks get money from their parents well into 20s, 30s, and beyond. Sure would have put some stuff into perspective that I only was able to figure out in my late 20s/early 30s.

I'm almost 40 now and am definitely OK in terms of finances, but I know many of my peers who are way better off than I am because of family support.

I never got a dime from my parents. My mom was/is a single parent and is disabled. We had been supported by Social Security disability for nearly 10 years by the time I went away to college. Fortunately I was a smart kid and, through near-total ignorance and lots of luck, got a terrific education for almost free at an outstanding and very expensive private university. My mom never had money to send me and that's just the way it was. (Upon reflection, I remember that my great-aunt sent me a $5 check each week, for which I was/am grateful.)

I remember hearing about how much money some of my peers were getting as presents for graduation, thousands of dollars, and crying a little bit. I think I had to borrow some money from a friend in order to afford first/last/deposit on my first house-share place out of school.

I supported myself for a year after college and then went to grad school for science where I was supported by fellowship money and grants. No car, no travel. I lived low and entirely within my means since I knew there was no safety net to bail me out.

I remember learning that one of my first-year colleagues and his wife were living in this incredibly nice neighborhood. Turns out his family gave him money for a down payment on a house when they got married. Nice work if you can get it. God, I was jealous. God, I still am, nearly 20 years later.

My husband's folks paid for his college and gave him an incredibly reliable used car, which served him for many years (including the first few of our marriage, til it gave up the ghost.) He and by extension I am grateful that we don't have any student loan debt from his undergrad days still on our tab.

We paid for our wedding ourselves and have never gotten support for housing, living expenses, anything.

Nowadays his parents tend to give us a check for $1K at Christmastime, but that goes directly to college savings for our kids--they know that's where the money goes and I'm sure that's why it keeps coming. My in-laws also buy us a AAA membership. They buy the kids gifts at Christmas and birthdays. That's about it. We think they'd help us out if we were in some sort of serious hardship but we do everything within our power to make sure that doesn't come to pass. Hopefully we won't have to test it with circumstances out of our control, knock wood.

My best friend is my age and still receives financial support from her parents. They paid for her college, they subsidized her housing in med school (they had many rental houses and she and her husband lived in one for much less than market rent), she drove a car that had been passed around through all her sisters at some point or other. When she and her husband moved away and wanted to buy acreage out in the country, her parents sold one of their rentals and literally bought the farm so that she and her husband would pay the mortgage to them rather than all that interest to a bank. Suffice to say that when things were tight and the money wasn't all together at the first of the month, the deadlines were less than firm and nothing ever showed up on her credit report. When she and her husband recently split up, she got some money from her parents to help her buy a new house herself (which she can easily afford on an MD's salary).

She is my best friend and I love her, and I know that this level of financial connection to her parents has chafed her at times. But goddamn, deep down I will admit to being really freaking jealous of how that kind of concrete support can impact a person's life. I've learned as much as I can about her parents' story and am hoping to be able to provide some of that for my kids when they are young adults.
posted by Sublimity at 1:47 PM on August 16, 2009 [2 favorites]

American, 37. Parents paid for tuition and room and board at college. They gave me a small allowance my freshman year, IIRC, but after that I was responsible for buying my textbooks and for all of my spending money. I worked a very large variety of jobs, both during the school year and in the summers. (I always win the "who had the crappiest jobs?" contest at dinner parties.) I also joined a co-op which was a cheaper dining option, but required 10 hours of unpaid work per week.

I paid for grad school through fellowships, TAing, and weird summer jobs.

I bought my first car from my parents, but note "bought".

They have helped both my brother and I buy our first homes. Somewhere between $30-40,000 to me, given as separate gifts over several years to avoid taxes. It enabled both of us to make down payments, but the mortgages (& everything else) are ours alone. They did this when both my brother and I were gainfully employed and in our 30s -- I think they figured that a) they'd already taught us the value of money, and b) it was money that we would get when they passed away, so why not give us a hand now?
posted by kestrel251 at 2:29 PM on August 16, 2009

American, 40, divorced, no kids.

The Bank of Mom and Dad has always been open. They paid for private high school, undergrad, a decent chunk of grad school, my wedding, and my divorce attorney.

Right now, I'm about to start training for a new career, so I'm not working. I have loans for tuition and enough in the bank (from an inheritance) to live on during the 1 year of training (plus a few months after graduation to pass my boards and get a job), but Mom and Dad have made it very clear that I should come to them if I need to.

I would not take ONE GODDAMN DIME from them if I didn't know they could afford it. They are the poster children for TIAA-CREF retirement - two Big 10 professors who were able to retire to southern California, drive a nice car, support the arts in their community, and travel to Europe for several weeks each year. I'm their only child and I thank all the tiny little gods every day that they have enough resources to cover everything they'll need for the rest of their lives.

(Yes, I know how lucky I am.)
posted by shiny blue object at 2:32 PM on August 16, 2009

In case you want a look at the recent past: 48, US, female, one parent, one sibling.

I did babysitting, janitorial, and painting work starting at age 12, if I remember correctly, to supplement my allowance. My brother did, too.

The rule in the family was that at 18 you were out the door. If you needed to stay in my father's house for any reason, you paid rent. My brother did that briefly after college.

My father was carefully equal in his finances. First, he paid for my older brother's college education. When it was time for me to go three years later, my father provided the same amount of money he had given my brother, which thanks to inflation wasn't enough. I worked to make up the difference and am very glad I did, because it gave me skills that I still use in my business.

My work experience also convinced me that I didn't need grad school, saving me thousands of dollars. I also got a huge amount of satisfaction from my jobs, which was a nice contrast to the utter boredom of classes. Thanks to my tight finances, I lived in very basic off-campus housing (e.g. one room in a boarding house, no car), which launched a lifetime of simple living and the freedom that comes with it.

After college, my brother and I got probably equal checks of a few hundred dollars for birthdays, with no strings attached. My dad never asked what I did with the money. A few times, my brother asked for or accepted additional money; the happy result was that my dad's sense of fairness required him to give me the same amount. I wasn't comfortable asking for money but when it was offered to even the score with my brother I was happy to accept it, again with no strings attached. Not surprisingly, my dad's will split his modest estate 50/50.

I'm extremely independent and usually pretty smart with money. I think I owe some of that to having a concerned but non-coddling parent.
posted by PatoPata at 2:54 PM on August 16, 2009

I agree with Sublimity. I'm in my mid thirties and have seen the spectrum of no-support to almost complete support for my friends over the years and having that financial support is almost necessary with rising living costs and stagnating wages. The people I know that are doing well are the ones that didn't have crippling debt or a major setback due to a month of tight finances with no support network. The people I know with "interesting" lives also had access to education, travel and internships without having to actually work at the same time. They are also not the ones trapped in abusive marriages because they can't afford to move out and have no one to support them temporarily. But too much support can be enabling poor money decisions too.

I worked and self-funded all of my six years of post-secondary education, actually at one point I was partially supporting my parents and sister and brother-in-law when I was in second year (I ended up not being able to go into third year because I couldn't afford it, my sister was fully supported in her second year and travelled in Europe as well). My parents have significantly supported my older sister and her husband well into their forties (including paying for their travels) and I think it has stopped her from taking responsibility for her actions (and the BIL feels completely entitled to spend my parents money frivolously and not repay it). My husband and I received $1,000 from each of our families when we married (used for a down-payment with my in-laws as co-signers on the mortgage) and I know I can turn to my family for money if there is a major unexpected expense but I try to save such borrowing for emergencies. My parents feel guilty that they have helped me so much less than my sister and I believe are trying to make up for it now, however the help would have been beneficial when I was struggling and would call in sick to work because I didn't have money for gas. I expect to inherit a fair bit from them but won't need the money myself at that point - I will instead use it to set up my own children so they won't spend their twenties and thirties scrabbling. Not being able to upgrade my education, afford professional clothes/haircut, or only have one full-time job at a time did slow my career by at least ten years compared to my peers that did not have to start with no money and a mountain of debt.

My husband however, came from a very wealthy family that has a lot of power issues with money. When I met him he was on welfare and literally starving. He had a major illness that prevented him from working (or even sometimes from being able to walk to the shop for food). I always thought it was odd his parents did not help him financially at all or even visit him once a week with some groceries or a meal out. They seemed to feel such treatment would spoil him and rarely communicated with him at the time (we are all much closer now). We both agree the fact that I was able to support us both, advocate for his health and get him a firmer footing was what allowed him to help himself to get more education and a good paying job. He is convinced if I had not appeared when I did he would probably have succumbed to his illness, partially due to malnutrition. Once we were married and he was working they relaxed the "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" line. The attitude about money persists into the next generation as my parents are quite generous with gifts for the grandchildren (season's passes to local themeparks, back to school clothing) whereas when my in-laws recently took my son to the toyshop (their idea) and let him chose a $6 toy - then came to me and asked me for the money (so my son though they bought him the toy). My parents help substantially with childcare emergencies or even tackling major jobs around the house. My in-laws have certainly helped as well with things around the house that are beyond my abilities (or more often, time).

I am planning on paying for my children's post-secondary education/housing and would not expect financial independence from them until they are in their mid-to-late twenties. If you read primary sources from Europe and Canada in the 1700 & 1800's the idea of giving children a good start in life is something most parents tried to provide for their children and it was the children that were thrust into adulthood with nothing and no one to fall back on that generally did poorly (see pretty much any biography of petty criminals).
posted by saucysault at 3:03 PM on August 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for all the insights! It's really reassuring to me to hear that there are many different ways families deal with money.
posted by Rocket26 at 4:15 PM on August 16, 2009

The people I know with "interesting" lives also had access to education, travel and internships without having to actually work at the same time.

Really? In my experience it's the opposite - the people who have had to be self-reliant have had the more interesting lives, and those who have been dependent on their parents took a lot longer to grow into interesting adults - those who didn't work until after they graduated university taking the longest, and being the most boring and self-asorbed of all. Travel also wasn't a real indicator in my youth, but having access to cheap flights to Asia and being a third-culture kid (as were many of my friends) probably made a big difference there - travel is normal and expected and not exotic and bizarre.

The role of the government is also important here, and that may not be apparent for Americans in particular. I was taught about economics, compound interest and stocks and shares at school. I was emancipated from my parents, and so my tertiary education was free (with stipend, undergrad and graduate) and I've never had to worry about health care or unemployment as that's all paid for. "Crippling debt or a major setback due to a month of tight finances" would only occur if I lost my mind and went on a major idiotic spending spree.

I will expect my children to work as soon as they're legally able - responsible money management is an essential part of being a functioning adult, and if you leave it too late to teach children the importance of earning and managing your own money you reinforce that dependent, reliant culture - what you can afford to pay for them should be irrelevant.
posted by goo at 5:10 PM on August 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

goo, it sounds like the government performed the in loco parentis role for you by helping you avoid student loans and being a support network for you in times of illness or unemployment. I know a lot of smart people that couldn't afford school so they are stuck in low-paying jobs and have no extra for saving and improving their lives. They are great but their exhaustion and constant high stress has tempered their love of life, ya know what I mean?

At my place of employment the relatively low-paid job of people shelving books used to be performed by fifteen year olds, but because quantity of applicants is so huge they now only hire people with a BA as minimum. What jobs with a living wage are really out there if you don't have an education? I know other people that have fallen into a huge financial hole because of things beyond their control such as being in an accident that was not their fault causing medical bills, not getting sick pay when seriously ill, or having to shoulder the entire burden of raising a child when the other parent disappeared.

It is basic Maslow, the cheap airfare mean squat when you are working for minimum wage with no paid vacation time. Money management really doesn't work when the income falls below a livable amount.
posted by saucysault at 6:22 PM on August 16, 2009

This might be psychobabble or too chatty - if so, I apologize in advance!

My parents have had no involvement in my finances since I was 16. We get on great and this has never been a issue. However, in life I find it impossible to accept help, perhaps as I never got any significant help from my parents. I love the independence, but it can be problematic.

I only bring this up because there seems to be a common idea that parents helping their kids out can make them weak or bad with money. This might be true in the extremes, but I suspect people who readily accept help (and offer help) are healthier than die-hard independent types like myself. (I could be wrong!)
posted by wackybrit at 6:22 PM on August 16, 2009

I am astonished by the number of people receiving financial help from their parents. Not that I think it is a bad thing, I am just utterly surprised.

I am an early 20s, engaged female. When my fiance and I moved into our apartment, we received a gift of several hundred dollars from my father. My fiance's cell phone is on a family plan paid for by his father's work. Other than that, we are totally financially independent.

My mother kicked me out of the house, and I don't think would help me financially even if I needed it (maybe I am wrong, but I doubt it). My father would certainly help me if I needed it, but I've never asked. My fiance's parents would probably want to, but might not have the means to help us if we needed it.

Sometimes, I do feel a bit jealous of my peers with the means to do more through their parents' help, but at the same time, I don't think I would feel as autonomous, and I feel I would owe something to my parents if I regularly received money from them. My pride and independence matters to me more, at this time.
posted by srrh at 7:57 PM on August 16, 2009

26, female, American, living and working in Japan.

My parents paid for everything for me through 5 years of college+master's degree. Food, rent, books, toys were all paid for no questions asked. (I like to think that I didn't spend too much money on unnecessary stuff) My mother has a extreme aversion to any debt apart from a primary mortgage. When I graduated and still did not have a job, I was told that I had until my bank account ran out to find a job or return back home. I found a job first. Since then I have not gotten any financial support from my parents. I pay for my own food, rent, stuff, pay into my retirement account on my own, and generally worry about my own money.

They will pay for family vacations, but I plan on paying for my own tickets back to the US for Christmas this year (even though my mother did offer to pay for them).

I plan to do the same for my invisible future children.
posted by that girl at 9:04 PM on August 16, 2009

I'm a little short of 21 and a university student; I'm on my own as far as school costs and most general living costs, but my dad pays for things that crop up that I don't have the spare money to put money aside for - he paid my bond when I moved out, he paid for my new glasses and he paid for some new winter clothes because he was horrified that I didn't have a jacket.

I think he would be a lot more loath to do so if I was making any sort of reasonable money (and therefore, presumably, frittering it away resulting in not having the money for these purchases) but my income is currently such that after rent, I have about $30 a week for food, travel etc. So he recognises that putting aside money each week for larger expenses is somewhat difficult-to-impossible. He's also about to pay for some vocational short courses that I'm due to undertake in order to (hopefully) improve my prospects for employment.

I was completely independent of my parents from 17-20, though, and have only become more dependant on occasional assistance since moving to another country where I don't have a job or any access to social security.

He doesn't vocally resent helping me the same way he does my sister; she also moved here at about the same age that I did (she's a few years older) and never looked for work and proceeded to rack up large hire-purchase, payday loan and car debt, which he then basically had to pay off for her because she didn't understand the concept of interest (I'm not kidding) and had been letting it skyrocket to unmanageable amounts. She's now got a kid and is living with the father, so his help has pretty much ceased although she still owes him a considerable amount of money from him paying off her more dangerous debt for her.

I think for most people I know the difference between their parents' being willing to help them (able is another matter) or not is whether they are visibily making any effort to improve their own situation.
posted by lwb at 3:46 AM on August 17, 2009

Hit post too soon - I also meant to add that I find the practise of (Down Under, at least, I'm not sure about elsewhere) assessing a student's eligibility for student allowances based on their parents' income to be interesting. While I understand the reasoning behind it, I have noticed an almost inverse relationship between how much parents earn and how much they are willing to support their children through tertiary study - though this is probably just a too-small sample group, the parents I know that pay their kids' way are mostly low-middle earners trying their darndest to give their kids the opportunities they didn't have. My best friend was eligible for a full student allowance even though her family were paying for all of her living costs, while I was eligible for nothing because my father earned too much, and at the time nobody was giving me a cent. It has always struck me as a less than equitable system.
posted by lwb at 3:57 AM on August 17, 2009

In Australia I lived at home during university rent free, and I could borrow the family car if nobody needed it (if I put some petrol in). I worked part time for some money.
I moved out of home a couple of months after graduation. When I got married, they made a generous contribution to the wedding costs (as did my wife's).
When we bought a flat, they loaned us some extra money so we would avoid mortgage insurance - about 10% of the price. We paid that off monthly without interest for some years, although Dad diverted the repayments into a saving account in my kids' names after they were born.
When we bought our last house, we needed about $20,000 for a month to cover some transaction costs. Dad loaned us the money, and we repaid it interest free. He was happy as he had sold some stocks to get the cash, and they declined 25% in the time we had the money.
I think it is kind of weird that people help out kids with recurrent expenses like rent, car payments etc. after they are working. If you can't afford to live there, move somewhere cheaper/get a cheaper car, surely?
posted by bystander at 4:54 AM on August 17, 2009

I cut my parents off when I got my first job. They paid for me entire college education so it was the least I could do. Unfortunately I dug into credit cards and that was a sore, long, lesson to learn but I don't regret refusing money from them (although I would be more careful about buying all those shoes!)
I'm ok with birthday or Christmas money because it's because they don't know what to get me, and then I just use the money to get them something instead.
posted by like_neon at 5:00 AM on August 17, 2009

"He should have a house by now."

I have literally heard this twice, from two different women, in two very different social circles. Out of maybe 4-5 women friends, total. They said this of guys they were dating, and these guys were in their early thirties. The guys were living in one or two bedroom apartments.

To me, this is directly tied to the parents-and-money issue. If I didn't have student loans, or if my parents had given me a car, I could easily have had a down-payment for a "house by now." Disclaimer: I have wonderful parents who did, and still do, provide me with exceptional emotional support, home-cooked meals, and life advice. I'd rather have this than money any day.

But I also feel an acute sense of injustice when I hear of a man's worth being judged by his possessions. In fact, I started to date one of the girls above, maybe a year after this happened. This little statement of hers kept haunting me, and I ended it maybe 4 weeks after I started it. She also gets a lot of money from her parents (2 degrees, debt-relief, trips to the mall, etc).
posted by everythings_interrelated at 6:51 AM on August 17, 2009

28, American, living with partner in a very expensive city.

I've been 100% financially independent since college, with the exception of about $2,000 that my mother paid for me to have my wisdom teeth out a few months after graduation. My parents paid my tuition and room and board at the college of their choice but I've paid for everything else since I was 16 (including clothes, toiletries, car insurance, car purchases, cell phone plan, travel, etc). I'm paying for grad school on my own.

I could ask my parents for money but it would need to be a major emergency, on the level of my apartment burning down AND my bank failing in the same week. I keep an emergency fund to handle those types of things myself.

I guess our deal is that right now they don't support me, so that later in their lives I don't have to support them. I don't expect an inheritance from them, but I do expect them to be financially prudent and prepare for their future. I hope to give my kids a similar start by paying for them to go to college, although I won't put restrictions on what type of school they attend. After college, I expect my kids to make it on their own.

My boyfriend is still on his parents' family share cell phone plan and is leaving as soon as the contract is up. We both feel that adults should be financially independent by the time they're 22 or so. I'm uncomfortable even with the thought of my parents paying for my wedding at this point. I understand the need for that kind of assistance when you're 23 or 24 and haven't been working for a long time, but at this time in my life, I can throw myself my own big party, thankyouverymuch. And if we pay for it ourselves, we won't feel pressure to integrate anyone else's whims or invite people we don't want to invite.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 7:31 AM on August 17, 2009

28 year old American female here.

My parents paid for me all through college and for the year between college and grad school, when I was living on a small stipend as a teaching assistant in France. The stipend was about enough to cover room and board. I would ask them if they could help me pay for - say - a trip to Belgium, put it on my credit card, then they'd pay the bill.

I basically chose my grad program based on proximity to free room and board, living with my parents for those two years (age 23-25), but was anxious to get out of the house and start "real life" once I graduated. I was also still on their health insurance at that time. They also sold me one of their cars at less than its actual value when I moved out.

I occasionally get large gifts that I wouldn't buy for myself on birthdays/Christmas. Cash is less frequent, but when I was struggling a bit and gas prices were higher, which resulted in me not being able to afford to visit home as often, my mom would slip me $20 or so when I visited - so basically she was trying to encourage me to visit by subsidizing the travel.

I know that if I needed financial help, my parents would do what they could, but I wouldn't want to have to depend on them. First, it would feel like I had "failed" at my independence, but I would also not want to cut into their retirement savings and force them to work longer than they want to.

My sister, who is 25, is in no hurry to leave home.
posted by srah at 8:53 AM on August 17, 2009

Turning 24, South Asian in Australia. I recently graduated and am looking for jobs while I develop my bubbling arts practice (which generally doesn't pay, and indeed costs more than it earns).

I would really rather be financially independent - my parents are the passive-aggressive type (LOOK HOW MUCH WE DID FOR YOU) and it's become such a sore point emotionally. However, I'm having a hard time getting hired for anything more than irregular casual gigs, which is demoralising. My dad just pitched in $3000 so that I can pay rent and eat - and this is AFTER he paid for a few months of living expenses, and over $10,000 to cover my permanent residency application.

My parents also paid for my university degree, as well as some international trips I did - it's hard to find scholarships for international students in Australia, who have to pay full fee at a rate about 4 times higher than local students. I did get a partial scholarship, which helped. There is also property in my name, mainly to make things easier if and when they pass on and we need to sort out inheritances (otherwise the property would be sorted Islamic Syariah style, which my dad doesn't want because it makes things too complicated and my sister & I won't get much).
posted by divabat at 4:21 PM on August 17, 2009

It is basic Maslow, the cheap airfare mean squat when you are working for minimum wage with no paid vacation time. Money management really doesn't work when the income falls below a livable amount.

saucysault, I only just saw this now, I'm sorry (maybe you read recent activity...). I've never lived in a country where paid vacation time isn't the norm, and I doubt I will (I currently have 27 days plus 10 paid bank holidays per year, plus flexi-time TOIL). I feel incredibly sorry for, no in fact I pity any of our American friends with no health insurance, at-will employment, anything else the compassionate world chooses to bestow on its citizens. Basic Maslow is spot on when your basic needs are taken care of.

Our American friends have a huge battle ahead of them, but it can be done.
posted by goo at 5:24 PM on September 17, 2009

And divabat - holy shit $10k for your permanent residency application is INSANE. My application for UK indefinite leave to remain (same thing) cost £900 (AU$1600). $10k is mental. Maybe I could marry you to get you Aus citizenship - d'ya think they'd accept a MeFi relationship of four years?
posted by goo at 5:32 PM on September 17, 2009

goo: Ha, I miscalculated. It's closer to $2100, but that's just the visa. Medicals are another ~$300, and then I had to go get a psych evaluation because I take antidepressants, which is another $200, and while I can get Medicare it's rather confusing so I've just started private insurance and that's another $160/month. Then there's living expenses, and career/creative development, and who knows what else. bah!!

The $10k was the amount my dad gave me earlier this year to cover living expenses and permanent residency, which is why I remembered that number. Hardly enough, still.

re: marriage - you need to prove that you have been referring to your partner as "partner" for at least a year. Boyfriend/girlfriend doesn't count. I have an Aussie BF but he's not keen on getting married just to get my visa going. For one thing, there goes all our chat logs, emails, secret Google docs...
posted by divabat at 7:52 PM on September 18, 2009

Just another data point for the OP:

23, female, American graduate student. My parents paid my college tuition in full (the bit that wasn't covered by financial aid, I mean). I worked full time during the summers, as well as part time during the semester, and every cent of that money went towards my education - in the end it was just about enough to cover my rent and living costs. My parents would have bought me anything I really needed, and always made sure I had good food, warm clothes, school necessities and a few opportunities for fun, but I definitely didn't buy or ask for expensive luxuries. They gave me a credit card that I could use in emergencies, but I never used it (and I no longer have it). I tended to get one Christmas present each year, and they helped me pay for a trip to Europe in my junior year. The year I graduated, my combination graduation-birthday-Christmas present was a nice camera.

When I graduated from college, I immediately assumed all expenses - rent, transportation, insurance, phone bill, etc. I don't get any financial assistance from them any more, which is totally fine, and not a surprise, because that had been the plan all along. However, they live close by, and I see them frequently. Because I don't have a car, and they do, they often drive an hour or so to pick me up, and they never ask me to pay for gas. And when I'm home, they don't ask me to pay for food or anything else - I'm a guest.

However, I was given some money by my Grandfather, upon his death, and I spent it on a vacation for my father, which he wouldn't have taken otherwise due to budget constraints. I also occasionally pay for food for my parents if we're out. I'm sure the frequency of that kind of thing will increase as I get older.
posted by Cygnet at 12:56 PM on November 21, 2009

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