Monday, December 18, 2006

Earning My Dad's Respect

As I mentioned some time ago, my father and I used to fight about money. One reason for that is that he vacillates between the desire to be generous with me and the desire to save money. Understandable.

Friday night we went to the theater together, and out for dinner afterwards, and over soup and salad he renewed his offer to give me money on a monthly basis. He really thinks (and pretty much correctly) that I don't make enough money to get to be spontaneous with it every now and again. "Put something on the credit card," he urged. (He means his, not mine.) I declined--one of the reasons we've fought in the past is the absence of clear boundaries--he'll tell me to use the credit card to have some fun (or buy some work clothes, or whatever) and then get upset when he gets the bill--and I like to think that I can learn from my mistakes. He asked if I was managing to save any money, and I got to tell him proudly that I've saved almost a full paycheck's worth. After all that talk about how I didn't make enough money to live comfortably, being able to tell him that felt awesome. It felt like telling him that I can take care of myself, that I'm resourceful, practical, and responsible.

He told me he was proud of me, and it meant more to me than he could have known.

And strangely enough, somehow that may mean that I feel like I can take money from my parents, that I don't have to sit at home when I could be out with friends just to prove a point. Of course, I've already done a budget with the money he'd like to give me included, and I'd be saving 46% of the extra money and giving away another 16%, so mostly they're helping me contribute to my savings, and it's hard to have a problem with that.

It's sort of a wakeup call, too, this kind of thing, because even though I'm a novice at personal finance, I'm doing okay, I'm doing well enough that my father can be proud of me. That's a good thing to remind myself, too.


Anonymous said...

Interesting post.

I also struggle with this a little bit with my parents. At different times, they've each offered me money. My responses at different times have run the gamut:

"No thanks, because I want to be self sufficient."

"No thanks, because I really don't think you can afford to give it to me."

"No thanks, because there are too many strings attached and I don't want to use it the way you want me to use it."

"No thanks, because I know you're not giving the same amount to my siblings and it make me feel guilty."

And sometimes my responses have been more like this:

"Okay, twist my arm. Send the check quickly before one of us changes our mind."

I do have a weird little rule for myself. Money gifts from family can be used in a limited number of ways, but not to just pay for general living expeses. That has to come from my own earnings.

I allow myself to use money gifts from family to:
1. Save
2. Donate
3. Travel
4. Pay for medical expenses

I know this is a little arbitrary, but it's what I'm comfortable with.

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