To The Sorority Girl Whose “Parents Pay For Everything”
The following is an opinion piece responding to “My Parents Pay For Everything And I’m Not Ashamed Of It,” posted on Total Sorority Move.
After reading this piece from Total Sorority Move a few days ago, I felt the need to address one of the major issues that exists with total parental sponsorship. The author of the article, “My Parents Pay For Everything And I’m Not Ashamed Of It,” remarks that while her parents pay for everything, she pays them back with her good grades, and she will make up for it by doing the same for her children. While the stance taken in the article is no doubt passionate, I felt compelled to acknowledge the truths she didn’t mention: Being completely sponsored by her parents (and not working) will make it harder to make sound financial decisions in the her future. Essentially, all of her financial mistakes lie ahead of her, where the stakes are higher, instead of behind her, like many of her peers who have already learned the perils of spending too much or purchasing on credit.
For context, I was also raised in a comfortable household. My parents could have likely paid my entire college tuition, but instead they made limited contributions so that I would have to shoulder the responsibility as well. Like my siblings, I started working at 16 so that I could pay for my car’s gas and insurance, as well as the data plan on the iPhone I bought for myself. Perhaps the greatest lesson this taught me is that in order to pay for the things I want, I need to earn money and be conscious of how I spend it.
Finding a job, so far, has never been a problem for me — I’ve held many positions of varying pay and skill level. I’ve learned that I’m adaptable to many situations. I’m not interested in working in food service, and I prefer to work during the daytime, as opposed to the late night shifts I worked at the local cinema in high school. I’m capable of working and maintaining my grades, without any pressure from my parents—because I want to have a phone, and a car, and good chances of getting into my top choice grad school.
I’m not trying to pretend that I have never made mistakes, because I definitely have, but that’s the point. I’ve spent incredible amounts of money when I really needed to be saving. I’ve been late on my bills. In many ways, the stakes are much, much, lower in my situation, because I’m not at risk for eviction after failing to pay rent and am still able to turn to my parents for help. I’m just thankful that I’m learning these lessons now, and that’s entirely a result of the fact that my parents pushed me to take on my own financial responsibilities.
This summer I faced a scary challenge: I admitted that I had no idea what I was doing financially. I knew that I wasn’t managing my finances correctly. Budgeting didn’t make sense to me and I could never come up with anything realistic, much less stick to it. My paychecks didn’t last longer than a few months. I asked my parents for guidance, and I learned from their direction.
I’m back on track, and have been working on personal goals that involve taming my spending habits. And I am lucky to have parents who let me make those mistakes, watched to make sure I didn’t fall too hard, and didn’t blindly foot the bill for it. My greatest improvement is the new feeling of financial confidence I have gained recently, and the people who brag that they’re happily bank rolled by their parents will never come to understand that feeling. I have self-control now that I know how to effectively budget and save. And thankfully, I made these mistakes in my late teens and early 20s, when my parents could still help me out, before any of my mistakes spiraled out of control.
I don’t want to waste time disapproving of the author whose “parents pay for everything” for flaunting the fact that she’s wealthy. I just want to verbalize that being so blatantly happy to use your parents’ money is something that catches up to you. I’m lucky to have parents who are financially savvy, but may be even luckier to have parents that forced their children to start paying their own way as soon as possible. Those who graduate college without ever contemplating their personal bills or learning about their work ethic could have a much longer road ahead of them. Of course, each person’s journey is different, but I can’t help but wonder how the totally sponsored children (and adults) ever become independent.
Leslie is studying English and Spanish in Louisville, KY. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter.