The Financial Confessions: “I Am One Of Those People Whose Parents Gave Her Money”

“I recently read The Financial Diet  post ‘An Open Letter to People Whose Parents Help Pay For Their Life in Their 20s’ – and I wanted to scream and give her a hug because I felt EXACTLY same way at 22 after graduating! I remember arriving at a friend’s apartment 6 months after graduation and observing my friend’s perfectly decorated apartment. It was so obvious her parents had bought everything for her. She had just started her job 2 weeks before – there was no way she had enough money for a sofa, a TV, even scented candles. I didn’t even have enough money to buy a rug at that point! (I worked at Anthropologie). I was burning to ask her how she did it all but too embarrassed to admit that my parents weren’t helping me at all.

The only thing is…within a year, I found out that I did indeed have money. It was from my grandparents (not my parents) but my mom had been hiding the fact that I owned the account outright. She didn’t want me to act like an entitled twenty-something. Which is great in theory…but at some point I needed to be informed of how to handle this new responsibility. The only reason I found out about it is because my mom handed me a checkbook in January 2012, saying, “You need to pay your taxes out of this account this year.” That was alI. I took her silence as a sign that we weren’t going to have a discussion about what this money means.

I think a lot of twenty-somethings who do have extra income end up feeling alone and ashamed, just like any human on this earth who deals with money on a day-to-day basis. We have the same questions – how do I budget? Who do I talk to? Do I suck at life? Since I’ve been on both sides of the spectrum, I feel comfortable talking to people who may be in the same place. Rather than say, ‘Whee look at me!’ my intention is to give an honest account of what some people really do encounter occasionally at this age.

I was incredibly ashamed when I first found out about this money. It was just after the Occupy Wall Street movement, and I felt that, by my sudden participation in Wall Street, I was thrown into a system that I hadn’t chosen and didn’t understand. I ignored it for almost a year, only using the checks to pay for medical bills that had piled up after a health scare. But slowly, I decided to learn more. I had never read a Forbes magazine in my life, but suddenly I devoured CNN Money articles and Investopedia definitions with the same focus that I had used in college to study subjects that didn’t come easily. I first met with my financial advisor in fall 2012, and to be honest, I cried the first couple of times I saw her. I was so embarrassed that I knew so little. And because my family is so quiet and awkward about money, it took me a while to become accustomed to talking about it openly – even with the person who is paid to talk about money. (Just imagine how many times you’ve cried at your doctor – yeah, it feels like that).

Talking about money doesn’t come easily to everyone, and for those not raised talking about it openly, it can take a while to feel comfortable. I started to tell my friends about my extra income when I wanted them to know why I was taking a couple of vacations by myself. I didn’t want there to be that awkward “Wait so…who’s paying for this?” tension in the air with my closest friends. Some of them I know are being helped by their parents with rent or car purchases, so I didn’t feel so weird telling them. Others I know aren’t being helped at all, and it made it harder to be honest with them. But I think overall, it’s best to have that open communication. We all come from different backgrounds, but in the end, many of us will deal with the same financial questions as we age. When my friends’ grandparents or parents pass away, as sadly all do, I hope that my story can be a resource for them to handle their situations responsibly – and, as these conversations continue, I hope to learn from them as well.

Different resources are extremely helpful for those not accustomed to financial discussions, and I would recommend the free advice on these homepages – JPMorgan, Fidelity, Merrill Lynch and on Forbes, the CNN Money, and Investopedia. (In fact, the list goes on forever – The WSJ, Bloomberg, Entrepreneur Magazine, and of course, The Financial Diet….)”

-Lauren

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