Before starting this journey we call adulthood, we often have lofty plans for our lives. This might include moving up the career ladder, living in a fabulous apartment and having an envy-worthy lifestyle. But reality sets in, and we come to the realization that making it on our own isn’t as easy as it appears on television. And if we get in over our heads, we might run to mom and dad for support.
When your back’s up against a wall and you don’t have many options, your parents can be a safety net and help you get back on your feet. But how much help is too much?
Even if your folks are willing and able to assist, there are good reasons why you shouldn’t run for help every time you hit a financial setback.
You’re Not a Kid Anymore
Some people have the mistaken view that it’s their parents job to step in and pick up the pieces whenever they screw up and make money mistakes. This might have been the case when you were younger and under their protective wings, but you’re an adult now. It’s your responsibility to get out of a financial mess.
Understandably, none of us are given a handbook on how to manage our personal finances. So it stands to reason that we’ll make mistakes along the way. Your parents can give advice and help you brainstorm solutions, but don’t expect them to come to your rescue each and every time.
One of the benefits of figuring out a problem for yourself is that you’re less likely to repeat history. If you get into heavy credit card debt due to overspending and your parents write a check to bail you out, you could find yourself in a similar situation down the road. But if you spend the next one or two years working overtime and sacrificing fun to get rid of high balances, you’ll probably think twice before splurging and buying stuff you can’t afford.
A Bailout Doesn’t Teach Financial Responsibility
When you don’t have your parents as a safety net, you’re forced to be responsible with your money. Let’s say you rent a luxury apartment in the city because you want to live the so-called “good life,” but after six months you realize you can’t afford this lifestyle.
Now, if your parents have the bankroll, you could reason that it’s a drop in the bucket for them to give you a couple hundred dollars every month—so you don’t have to give up this lifestyle you love so much. But this doesn’t solve the problem, it only puts a bandaid on the real issue.
In life, adults have to make difficult, but smart decisions with regard to their money. It’s how they get ahead and stay ahead. You have to prioritize, sacrifice and acknowledge your financial limitations. And if your parents are always within arms reach ready to catch you before you hit the floor, you might never learn money lessons that can prove valuable as you become older. You could become accustomed to a life outside your means and develop an attitude of entitlement, thinking it’s your parents’ job to pay your way.
They Have Their Own Needs
Your parents may be the best people in the world and ready to offer assistance after you’ve hit a rough patch. However, they have their own needs to worry about. This can include a mortgage, preparing for retirement, or they might support your younger siblings. If they’re dipping into their nest egg on a regular basis to help you financially, this can limit their quality of life.
Pride shouldn’t stop you from receiving the help you need, but at the same time you shouldn’t treat your parents like a personal ATM. Instead, go to your parents as a last resort once you’ve exhausted all possible options. After hitting a certain age, you have to learn to stand on your own two feet. If you’re adult enough to have a job, your own place and debt, then you’re adult enough to figure out a solution to cash flow issues.