It’s a conversation I’ve had with friends since university ended and entry-level jobs began.
Even though we should be “out on our own,” many of us are still receiving financial help from our parents.
For today’s pavement-pounding millennials, it’s not uncommon for parents to foot the bill in everything from down payments to cell phone and Uber bills, all in the hope that it will help us advance our lives in competitive and expensive cities.
But a new report shows that arrangement can last way beyond your 20s – with adults in their 30s and 40s still asking mom and dad for support. According to a new report from the amazingly named Society of Grownups, one in three Americans aged 21 to 45 still receive financial help from their parents.
Surprisingly, it isn’t those on the lower end of this age spectrum who received the majority of support.
The report actually shows that almost one-third of 30-somethings and more than one-fifth of 40-somethings receive “significant, ongoing” financial support from their parents.
For many, this is a need rather than a luxury: 70 per cent of those who get parental help say they couldn’t survive without it.
The good news? “Of those who receive financial support, 34 per cent expect to provide financial support to their parents in the next seven years,” the report states. Or, as one of my friends describes her situation, “I am going to do the same thing for my kids one day, so it all works out.”
Another points to her parents’ explanation for their generosity. They would rather be alive to see their child live a full life than to watch her struggle; the money is all going to end up with her either way.
Kind of dark, but you get the point.
Either way, parents are opening their pockets.
So, what’s the reason for this?
Well, in my experience, there are many.
Many of us grew up armed with the notion that we should follow our passions at any price, even if it meant a menial income in between auditions, temporary gigs and/or meetings with potential investors for our brand-new startups.
So we did. It’s partially why we’re characterized as entitled job-hoppers who get restless in one place for too long and are in constant pursuit of the next best thing.
We now live in a culture of heightened entrepreneurship; one that’s been dubbed a “freelance economy.” With the leisure and flexibility to embrace a digitally nomadic lifestyle comes the absence of things like benefits and a stable paycheque every two weeks.
There’s no reason to settle, we tell ourselves.
Whether it means meals at restaurants or with potential love interests, “settle” isn’t a part of the vocabulary of many urban millennials. That’s certainly the case when it comes to the workplace and our personal lives.
We’re taught that work shouldn’t feel like work – that we should be doing something that we love. That we have options. So if one job doesn’t feel right, we decide to go back to school and find something new. Of course, tuition isn’t cheap, and being a student again could mean a major change in lifestyle – something that many urban-dwelling, restaurant-loving young professionals aren’t always ready to accept.
That’s where mom and dad come in for many people.
If not, the alternative is student loans, the repaying of which could result in an appearance at mom and dad’s doorstep with a suitcase down the line. Aside from the dishing of dollars to help with bill payments, many parents are also offering their millennial children a roof over their head long after they’ve moved out of their university dorm rooms.
And let’s not forget about the increasingly unattainable housing markets in cities like Toronto and Vancouver that make owning a detached home a pipe dream.
Just because we’re settling down later family-wise doesn’t mean we’re saving more money than many of our parents did when they bought their first house before 30. Nope. Not only is it damn expensive just to live, eat, and transport ourselves in our cities (check out how much it costs to live in Toronto), there’s just so much we want to see and do.
Fuelled by social media, an increasingly interconnected world, sites like Airbnb, and fewer responsibilities (i.e. kids), today’s young professionals are consumed by an undying sense of wanderlust.
We’d rather live in the moment than worry about the future.
We spend rather than save. We’d rather take career risks than get too comfortable. That could be why more than half of millennials aged 18-34 have less than $1000 in their savings accounts.
What it comes down to, in my opinion, is a fine line between being an entitled, life-stagnant mooch and graciously accepting help for the benefit of progress, a stable financial future, and getting ahead.
Great things aren’t built overnight, after all.