When Do We Have Enough Money?

by Kristina Tahnyak on November 17, 2010 · 8 comments

Last week Michele made a comment on our post titled A Financial Burden: Do Children Equal Debt? that parents do not become financially responsible for their children for the rest of their lives.  Of course, it is a parents’ choice to financially support their children past the age of majority.  But very often is the case in both my professional, as well as personal life that parents do continue to financially support their children into adulthood.

A while back I asked my Dad why parents send money to their adult children. I personally don’t understand the concept…at all.  I have worked two jobs since I was sixteen and I don’t understand the concept of not working for money.  My Dad told me that “A parent feels they are doing what is in the kids’ best interest. A parent never wants to see their child suffer.” I agree that no one wants to see a family member struggle, but at the same time everyone has financial difficulties throughout their life. Handing money to an adult whenever they need it isn’t really helping them stand up on their two feet.  An adult will never learn financial responsibility if they can always rely on their parents to hand them money whenever they call.

Let’s look at an example from my personal life.  My Step Witch has two adult daughters, the oldest is in her 40’s, and the youngest is in her late 30’s.  Over the past 8 years of my Dad’s relationship with the Step Witch I have seen her hand money over to her two adult children every single time they have asked for it.  She even takes the money to them.  My sister Tara and I call it “Dial a Dollar”.  Her daughters call her up for money and she withdraws it from the ATM and brings it right over to them.  These two adults don’t need a savings account when they have mommy to financially support them.  It must be nice to not have a stable job, and still have instant access to unlimited money.

I have seen my step witch’s two daughters ask for money for everything from Christmas gifts for their (several) children, weekly cigarettes, for student loans from a degree that was never completed, airfare for (past) boyfriends, and more recently court fees because the oldest daughter wants her children back.  In my opinion, if the court has already deemed you as an unfit mother then there is no reason on spending $5000 to appeal the decision.

What is an appropriate age when children should no longer ask their parents for money?

In my family the answer is while we were in school. My father sent me $300 a month to help with my living expenses, and my parents also had an education savings plan for me.  Please don’t get me wrong. I didn’t have my education handed to me on a silver platter. I worked full time while I was in school and my GPA suffered because of it.  The point is that I made it work. In my family, when things don’t go as planned you make it work.

(Photo By Borman)

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jennifer November 17, 2010 at 9:05 am

Why do most of your posts just bitch about your step mother? This is supposed to be a finance blog with posts about finance You try to take a jab at your step mother in almost every one of your posts lately. You’re in your 30’s… get over it. You may not like her but you’re not marrying her and frankly if I were your father I’d be pretty pissed that you are trashing my future wife any chance you get.

I’m officially done with this site, it’s absolutely useless.

2 Jason November 17, 2010 at 11:44 am

I have to agree a bit with Jennifer that this blog has become quite whiny over the past few months. Either coworkers, family, should or shouldn’t you have children they seem to be reoccurring topics. I am not trying say there isn’t a place for some of that I just haven’t see many things that I am interested in lately.

Everyone is going to make their own path in life. Some take the easy road of living off of others work and some of us make our own path. We might have more trying times along the way making our trail through the brush but in the end most of us wouldn’t trade it for a life without struggles or learning.

If you need ideas or guest writers please let us know I am not a great writer but could help generate stories ideas or post (with editing). I would love to see more topics on Tax strategies for DINKs, new investment ideas, how to donate wealth, real estate, or even the dreaded budgeting topics. These are just some of the ideas off the top of my head. Plenty of the blogs I read have guest post but its just an idea.

On topic though I would say after you get your first “job” out of college/high school/trade school you should be pretty much on your own. Instead of purchasing that new car right out of college try stashing aside an emergency fund. I wish I had done this I can imagine how much easier this would had made the first couple years out on my own.

3 Dave November 17, 2010 at 11:53 am

<— unsubscribing

4 Michele November 17, 2010 at 12:33 pm

Wow! Quoted on a blog! Cool!

I have very strong feelings on this topic, most likely because I come from a family where parents do NOT provide financial support to their adult children and never have. From the moment I started college at 18 years old, I have been 100% financially independent. There was no college fund, there was no monthly allowance, nothing. I think my dad gave me $20 for gas one time, but I kid you not – that is it.

Reading that will probably make some people think my dad is some kind of monster and I’m some kind of martyr, but the truth is that we are very close and while he has not provided any amount of financial support to me as an adult, he HAS provided a tremendous amount of emotional support.

The two are not mutually exclusive, of course, but if I had to choose one, I’d take the lot I got. :)

5 Migdalia November 17, 2010 at 1:39 pm

I have not received any money from my parents since I am nineteen, they paid for my tuition and expenses in my freshman year at college and then I got a job and begin to cover all my expenses, but my grandparents covered my college tuition until I graduate. Anyway, right now I can say that given that I manage my money at a young age I have learned a lot and I am doing much better than my parents.

6 Marie November 17, 2010 at 1:42 pm

I am starting to think that you are the real witch.

7 Kristina November 17, 2010 at 2:08 pm

Thanks for your great comments. It is no secret that I dislike my step mother and that is because I don’t think she is good for my Dad or for our family. But you are all right…I’m not marrying her so I should just let it be. I many not agree with her financial strategy or parenting methods, but I am not a parent so I guess I can’t judge.

I used the example of my step mother in this post because it relates to me. I hope that when reading it, we can all relate the concept of supporting adult children to a personal relationship we have, or an experience that we had.

Jason…thanks for the great topic ideas. We will definitely post some ideas on those topics in the weeks to come. If you have any specific questions please let us know.

Also, don’t forget about DINKS Choice. This allows readers to suggest their favourite financial product, service, investment strategy, or any other type of favorite financial anything.

8 First Gen American November 18, 2010 at 4:53 pm

Kristina, I think you are a great writer and have some real talent, but I have to agree with the others that I liked your blog better when the tone was a little more lighthearted and less angry.

So to answer your question, I think it depends on a family’s ethnic background and relationships. It’s not uncommon for foreigners to have several generations all living together and sharing expenses even into adulthood. My mom and I have blurry lines when it comes to who actually pays for what. I pay many of her day to day expenses. On the flip-side, she has given me a lump sum to put toward the house she’s living in. Do I feel like a deadbeat for accepting it? Absolutely not. Why, because when she needed a new roof 7 years ago, I didn’t even think twice about writing a check to her. She’s also living in that house for free. I think sharing money is fine if it’s a give and take relationship. When it becomes weird is when it’s a take and take relationship.

My cousin is in his 50’s and still expected monetary gifts from his parents on a regular basis. Unfortunately they are no longer alive so he’s just now learning to stand on his own two feet. We don’t talk anymore because of a lousy thing he did to his father (emptied his bank account on his death bed), but I really feel sorry for him because he’s got to learn how to be an adult after over 50 years of being taken care of. I now see that his incredibly cruel actions were an act of desperation because he really didn’t know how he’d live without his parent’s money. Sad.

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