This week, my roommate got some bad news. Her dad got laid off.
Now, this wasn’t entirely unexpected. He’s got a number of years of experience and education, but he’s in an industry that has been especially hard hit by the current economic conditions. He and his wife have been anticipating this and planning for the possibility, so they will be okay. They’re some of the lucky ones.
This has been incredibly eye-opening for my roommate, however. She just finished grad school, and she has yet to find a job. Again, not entirely unexpected. But she had a safety net. Her parents were happy to help her out while she continues to job hunt. I haven’t discussed it with her, but I have a feeling that they aren’t cutting her off, even though their financial situation has changed so dramatically. I do think that she has suddenly realized that she can’t continue to take advantage of their generosity.
I have had issues with her money management for a while. I think it’s great that her parents help her out where they can so that she doesn’t have to take out so many loans, but at the same time, I have often thought that she is perhaps taking advantage of their generosity. We live in a nice apartment, but she wants to move into a new apartment that will run her about $300 more a month. (I will not be moving with her, which means that I will be roommateless again.) If she were employed, I wouldn’t say anything about this. If she wants to spend more money on rent, that’s her choice. But I don’t think this is a choice she should be considering if her parents are paying her rent.
I was watching an episode of 18 Kids and Counting the other night, and the mother was asked if her eldest son, who recently married, is still being financially assisted by his parents. She laughed and said no, the purse strings had been cut. And sure, her son and daughter-in-law might have to live on love every so often because there’s no extra money to go around, but it’s important to learn those lessons.
My parents haven’t helped me out financially for years. If I needed them, they would, I think, but I wouldn’t ever want to have to ask. I’ve discussed my roommate’s situation with them, and they said if I were in her position, they would help me out with rent for a few months while I job hunted, but after that, I would be on my own. However, if I wanted to move back home and live with them, I am always welcome.
It is unfortunate that it took my roommate’s father losing his job for her to finally see the light and realize how lucky she has been and realize that she really needs to step up her job search and maybe look for a retail job to help pay the bills while she looks for something in her field. I do hope that things work out for her family as quickly as possible. It’s always hard to watch those around you struggle.
Megan is a 30-something government employee in the Washington, DC area. She got interested in Personal Finance when she got out of college and realized that her paycheck wasn’t going to go as far as she had hoped. Since starting this blog, she has managed to buy a house and make a solid start on her retirement goals, and hopes to help others do the same. Here is her story:
In 2007, I was a gainfully employed 20-something with no debt but not a lot of knowledge about personal finance. It was a co-worker’s comment about Roth IRAs that sent me to the internet, searching for information. It was then that I realized that I really didn’t know a whole lot about personal finance and that my current financial situation was due a lot to inherent frugal tendencies, generous family members, a fear of debt, and good luck. While that was working for me, clearly I needed a better plan.
While I had no debt, I was also pretty much living paycheck to paycheck and not worrying about going over budget (I say this as if I had a real budget) because I had an emergency fund set aside to cover any overages.
Except that’s not what an emergency fund is for.
So I did a lot of research, read a lot of blogs, and decided that I needed a plan. I needed to budget. I needed to know what I was spending my money on. I needed to prepare for the future.
I decided to create a blog not only to make myself accountable to others but also to share the knowledge that I gained along the way. I’ve learned so much from my fellow bloggers, and I hope that my readers can find something useful in what I have to share as well.