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What have you received from your parents?

February 7, 2009

Financial independence of those of us in our twenties has been a bit of a hot topic in the past month or so.  From minor “handouts”of meals and gifts, to tax exclusion gifts, to nothing at all, the level of help we get from our parents varies widely.  I’ve considered myself financially independent for quite some time, but I wanted to take a minute and reflect on what I have received, what I still receive, and what I expect to receive in the future.

In the past I’ve received:

Tuition and extracurriculars in high school: I went a private high school, roughly $3k/year.  In younger years, they paid for a lot of activities and extra enrichment summer classes that I took for fun (math, English, art, computers).  They paid for a month in Germany for a high school exchange program.  They also paid any costs associated with being in activities, sports, and music lessons.  I used my own spending money, clothes, and entertainment in high school after getting a job the summer after my freshman year.

Minimal help with college tuition:  My parents helped out my first semester, I think.   It was probably $1000 or $2000.  Other than that, I had scholarships, grants, and student loans.

Car and Insurance:  My parents always provided us with cars to drive to/from school in high school.  They were older cars, often only with an AM radio and other embarrassingly crappy features (like the door handles wouldn’t open in the back–I told people it used to be a police car as a joke).   After my 2nd year of college, I contributed somewhere between $500 and $1000 towards a newer car, and they gave me a car that cost around $400o  (could be off by +/- ~1k ).  They paid my car insurance and health expenses throughout college.  I still drive this car, but  I’m hoping to it to them later this year, as T and I plan to get a used (but newer) car.  My little sister could use it.

Free rent during college:  I lived at home for a semester or two in college, rent free, and often free groceries/food.  I always worked hard in school and usually had at least one part time job, so I was welcome to stay in my old room.  At first, it was important for me to strike out on my own and gain independence, so I lived on campus then in an apartment.  But once I had my college life together, it worked out well.  My parents are extremely laid back, and treated me like an adult.

Still receiving:
Cell phone plan
:  I’m tacked onto the family plan at a cost to my parents of $10/mo.  Everyone I talk to regularly is “in network”, so I barely use any minutes.  I’ve offered more than once to pay my share, but they don’t accept.  (I think this is fairly common practice, as family plans are much better deals than single plans in the US.)  Obviously, I’m responsible for purchasing my own phone.

Gifts:  My parents are fairly generous with gifts at Christmas.  In college, the gave me a laptop for school (a one time special gift–this wouldn’t happen today), and I got a GPS before moving to California.  This year I didn’t need anything special, but they fulfilled my short wish list at a cost of maybe $250.

Meals:  My parents almost always pay when we go out.  This isn’t that big of a deal, since I don’t see them often.  Last spring my parents spent several months living and working in the L.A. area, and they often treated me to dinner.  They occasionally pay for vacation “treats”, (wine tour when we visited them in SF area), but we don’t often go on vacation together.

Wedding: They paid for my older sister’s wedding (she married young at 23), which I estimate cost around $10k.   I wouldn’t care if they didn’t contribute to mine at all, but  my dad said he wanted to be fair.  I doubt they can afford to spare $10k in this economy.  I expect some help, but not a lot.  Maybe $5000, including travel expenses  for them (I’m not intending on marrying in my hometown or having a large wedding).

Going Forward:
I’ve noticed a shift, even in the past year, of what they offer me, what I offer them, and what is accepted by either party.  I’ve offered to pay for dinner or this or that, and they let me.  My dad took care of hotel bookings for a family wedding, but I paid for my share of them.  They requested I come home for my grandma’s backyard picnic birthday (which her own son didn’t even attend!), but they never offered to kick in for the flight.  I thought they might, but wasn’t surprised they didn’t.

I think that they will continue with gifts and meals, but I also probably treat more often than I have in the past.  I don’t expect to get any more “big ticket” Christmas gifts, and I expect to pay my way for lodging on most family trips/events.

What about you?  Make your own post, or leave a comment!

21 Comments leave one →
  1. guinness416 permalink
    February 7, 2009 12:10 pm

    Interesting question! For me in my adult life, free rent during college and a $6,000 cheque as a wedding present. And lots (and lots and lots) of homemade apple crumble and endless cups of tea when I’m home visiting them in Ireland. Plus I know they’ve got my back in the unlikely event things go pear-shaped for me in the next few years, I can always move home!

  2. tom permalink
    February 7, 2009 12:41 pm

    High School:

    The usual… Like you, I paid for some clothes, random stuff I wanted, entertainment using money from a part-time job


    Room and board, tuition, car insurance, some car payments after I bought a used car after mine died

    After College:

    Flights to see them, house down payment ($20K @ 3%), Half my wedding + honeymoon

    My parents have been very generous and I appreciate it all.

  3. February 7, 2009 3:04 pm

    Free food and lodging until I turned 19.

    Then I started paying rent when I lived with them any time after that, if I stayed for more than 2 weeks my dad would ask for money.

    I also paid for my own food, they never gave me a car, paid for any license for driving, nor a passport or my citizenship.

    In addition, I paid for all dinners out (hence why I didn’t see them often), and am expected to pay for everything when I’m with them.

    No flights to see them or see family, no birthday gifts, holiday gifts… nothing.

    In elementary they paid for things like my uniform, but in high school I paid for everything on my own – including books, tutoring, etc. Hence the part-time job.

    Hmmm.. that’s it.

    Great question!

  4. February 7, 2009 4:25 pm

    Your parents seem very nicely moderate in their attitudes towards money and giving; it seems so normal! (That’s a compliment, what I consider “normal” = my ideal.)

  5. February 7, 2009 4:43 pm

    High school: I also went to a private high school, although I think the cost was substantially higher since it was a boarding school. They paid for almost everything (tuition, room/board, clothes, travel) but not for things like toiletries, some clothes, and other stuff that I just wanted.

    College: they paid for my tuition and room and board (with a price: I had to go to the college they picked) and I paid for everything else, including cell phone, my car and car insurance, etc.

    After college: Emergency wisdom teeth removal. And they’ve paid for a ticket for me to fly home once as a Christmas gift. Other than that, not a thing. They don’t send me money for gifts or anything, and I’m expected to chip in for gas when I go visit and drive their car.

    For the future: I expect they will be willing to pay for a reasonable wedding (my sister received around $10,000), but I’m not sure how much I’m willing to accept (see the strings attached to their gifts re: college above). My mom tells me if I ever NEED money, I can call her and I’m sure that’s true–but I would need to have cancer AND my apartment burn down before I took her up on it. I’m truly 100% financially independent from them.

  6. Jess permalink
    February 7, 2009 6:28 pm

    My parents paid for college, including tuition, rent, some food and major transportation expenses when I went abroad (I went to school an hour train ride from home, they never paid for the $20 trips home or anything). Although my mom would generally drive me and my stuff up at least once a semester, which cost her time, gas and tolls. I lived at home for free during the summers and worked. I could have moved home for a time after college if I had been inclined, for free for 6 months, but I didn’t want to.
    They also gave me small gifts of money from time to time as birthday or Christmas presents. Mostly, though, I paid for small things like the rest of my food, clothing, other expenses and traveling expenses when I visited other cities while I was studying abroad (which I did for a total of two semesters). They usually pay for meals out and I’m certainly never expected to pick up the whole check. Occasionally, I’ll contribute towards it but it would be ok if I didn’t. When I’m home, I drive their extra car and can occasionally borrow it myself (I live in a major city so I don’t need one very often).
    I don’t have a job that provides health insurance and lived without it for over a year and a half after college. Recently, we discovered that I can buy into my mom’s employer’s insurance relatively inexpensively so I’m doing that and they’re splitting the cost of this with me. I have no idea if they’d pay for a wedding although I suspect they wouldn’t make a significant contribution and I wouldn’t want them to. I generally think that elaborate weddings are a waste of money, no matter whose.
    I’m really grateful for my parents’ generosity during college and now with health insurance. I expected the college expenses because they always told me that they would cover that, within reason and I honestly think that it is a parent’s responsibility to help their child with college expenses as much as they can. At the very least, the child should be allowed to live at home rent-free while he or she attends a local state or community college. If I decided to go back to grad school to a school near their house, I’m sure I could move home rent-free for the duration if I wanted to.

    Wow, I kind of wrote a book. Oops.

  7. February 8, 2009 9:20 am

    My parents have helped me a lot, as a kid I played sports and music. They bought me my own viola, which looking back was a lot of money at the time. In 8th grade I went on a school field trip to England. When it was time for college they bought me a new car (actually they paid off on the deal they made. When I was in 6th grade and hated school they said if I graduated with a GPA of 3.7 or better they’d buy me a new car). I was not allowed to have a job in high school other than the odd night of baby sitting, so they paid for clothes and such. I didn’t get an allowance really either, part of why I went crazy with credit when I got it.

    In college they paid for room and board, $500 a month. Which didn’t go far in the OC. But they hadn’t saved a dime for college and didn’t help with tuition or books. I’m working on a post about how they got the state to cover my schooling, I’m not entirely comfortable with what they did. Now they give gifts at holidays and we trade paying for dinners etc. They are better off than i am by virtue of age only.

    My dad says he wants to pay for a wedding but he has no savings! We want to pay for the bulk and would be happy for a little assistance since I know they both want to help. I’m an only, so they have a lot invested in me!

    Very interesting discussion, thanks for bringing it up. I know people in their very late 20’s/early 30’s whose parents are still buying them cars, paying their rent and debts. Compared to them, it feels like my parents aren’t helping a bit. That is until I realize my independence is worth far more than money.

  8. February 8, 2009 10:27 am

    I am definitely going to post a response on my blog…

  9. February 8, 2009 2:40 pm

    I posted a response on my blog as well.

    This really got me thinking.

  10. February 8, 2009 8:05 pm

    I should post in my blog too. My parents always gave cash for birthday and Christmas but I would spend roughly the same amount on stuff for them so it evens out. College was paid for by scholarships, grants and part time jobs.

    My parents retired to another country a few years ago so now I send Christmas cash and they send well wishes 😉

    They shocked me last year by giving me enough to put a downpayment on a house…which I’m not prepared to buy LOL so the money is just earning interest.

  11. Bonnie permalink
    February 9, 2009 12:16 pm

    Great question and post. High school: I was given a car (a free hand-me-down from my aunt–the car was ancient even back then), but I paid my own gas and insurance. I worked on weekends and summers from the minute I turned 16 and so the allowance stopped then. College: Tuition paid for (cheap state school–Little Miss Moneybags, my dad said the some thing–I really didn’t have a choice of going anywhere else for college), for which I am grateful. Paid for my own books. Also, all 4 years I worked full-time and went to school full-time and had apartments with and without roommates. I could have lived at home but I chose not to. I wanted to be independent. So I paid all of my own living expenses, bills, etc. After college: My dad gave me a few thousand bucks when I got laid off 6 years ago so I wouldn’t be living on the street. He also occasionally gives me a little gas money when I travel home. Both parents are very generous at Christmas. Also, and I’m not proud that I accepted this, a few years ago he bought me a brand-new car. My other car (that I bought used years ago with my own money) was absolutely on its last legs and I really had no means to buy another one of any kind, especially considering the debt that I had then. So, I accepted it. At the same time he gave my brother a down payment on his house in the same amount, so I felt better about that. But I am determined to NOT be in the same situation the next time I need a new car. I am grateful for everything that my parents have done for me, but–Little Miss Moneybags is right when she says that everything has a price. In our case, that’s control.

  12. Stacey permalink
    February 9, 2009 1:16 pm

    “I realize my independence is worth far more than money.” Yes!

    My parents couldn’t really afford to help out too much – $1,000 for the wedding (very frugal but fabulous brunch reception) and about $2,000 per year for college (thank you, scholarships!) I knew early on that their biggest contribution would be emotional, and planned accordingly – jobs through high school and college.

    My husband, on the other hand, continues to receive lavish gifts and large checks from his parents. It drives us a bit nuts, because they tell everyone that they need to help us and how hard it must be to be struggling as a couple. It hurts a lot that they can’t see us as responsible adults. I hate to think what will happen once we start our family…

  13. February 9, 2009 3:42 pm

    I’m getting to this rather late, but I made my own post on my blog. I left out part of my blog address in my previous comments by accident, but fixed it now.

  14. February 9, 2009 10:36 pm

    This is a great post! My parents have been pretty generous. When I was growing up they always paid for extracurricular activities but I always had to pay for anything I wanted, like toys, clothes, etc. They paid for college, but that was always an agreement my parents had with me, and they still always pay when we go out to eat. My mom is incredibly nurturing and always wants to help out, which I’ve learned to accept and appreciate, something that I hope I can do when I’m much older and have kids of my own.

  15. October 24, 2009 10:10 pm

    Car insurance while I was in college; costs of books while I was in college; about $500 of other college fees paid for making good grades; free rent during college (I don’t know if this counts as I was 16-17 in college so they couldn’t exactly charge me for living in their house); they paid for the food for my wedding; $100 as an additional wedding gift.

  16. February 23, 2011 10:27 am

    Mi smo malo poteškoća da se pretplatite na RSS, u svakom slučaju sam knjigu obilježila ovu odličnu stranicu, vrlo je koristan plus napuni informacijama.


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