When Am I Too Old To Rely On My Parents For Money? Ask A Pro

By The Head Pro

Send Head Pro your questions about life, love and shared credit cards to [email protected]

Dear Head Pro,

I'll get straight to the point- until what age is it acceptable to still be semi-financially dependent on your parents?  My situation isn't all that unusual: I went to college and got interested in a field that doesn't make a lot of money, so even though I was lucky enough to secure gainful employment relatively soon after graduation, I'm still heavily reliant on my mom and dad to provide a lot of my "spending money" (for clothes, spa treatments, vacations etc.).  On the one hand, they don't super mind (though I'm sure that, like all parents, they would rather I wasn't), but on the other hand I'm starting to feel like I'm a brat for being 23 and still borrowing my parents' credit card.  To make it more awkward, I'm actually married (don't judge) but my husband is in dental school so he's not going to be making any money for the next few years while he finishes that up and gets his practice started. 

Obviously with his career trajectory there is an end in sight to needing to depend on my parents for nice things, so I try to justify keeping up with my somewhat high-end lifestyle on the basis that ultimately it won't be unsustainable (or the burden of anyone but me and my husband, which we are both cool with), but maybe I should just suck it up and stop having fun for the next three years so I can at least say we're standing on our own.  I know as a guy this situation would be somewhat different for you (something about a guy still spending his parents' money in his mid-20s is even less cute than it is for a girl), but do you have any advice?

Teacher With [Expensive] Taste

Dear Teacher With Alleged Taste,

Well, hey - why is it “less cute” for a guy in his 20s to hit up mom and dad for cash every once in a while? If, with your income, you have to rely on your parents, where do you think any of your guy coworkers get extra money from? I’m older than you and I never “relied” on my parents for much of anything, but I’m still picking up the phone if a huge, unexpected expense comes up. People are living longer, we’re growing up slower and we’re worse-off than our parents were at the same age, generally speaking. It’s the way of the world.

Anyway, you have to keep in mind that only your parents are responsible for their financial decisions. Presumably, if what they’re giving you hampered their lifestyle, they wouldn’t do it. Consider too that you’re doing everything right. You have your job, and your husband has his career lined up. Marriage itself doesn’t necessarily confer a sense of maturity or responsibility, but it does show that you’re thinking about the future. Given that it’s entirely possible your parents remember what it’s like to subsist as a young couple on one (unsubstantial) income, odds are they have no issue making your life a little more comfortable as you put in the work to become successful and independent in the near future. After all, why do people work hard if not to set their children up to have it better than they did?

If, as I suspect, you’re feeling guiltier about the concept more than the money itself, I’m sure volunteering to accept less assistance would garner a lot of respect from them. Having spent the majority of my 20s with less than four figures in my bank account and not much help otherwise, I can say that living within your means doesn’t necessarily mean you stop having fun. You don’t need new clothes every season, or a weekly facial, or a standing reservation at the hottest restaurant in town. You’re a young couple starting out, so most of what you “need” to have fun is covered by friends, cheap wine, Netflix, a crock pot and happy hour specials.

Offer to scale back to a monthly allowance (proportional to your parents’ financial situation) versus just swiping dad’s credit card when you want something. Do that, and you shouldn’t feel an ounce of guilt when mom and dad offer to reward the two of you with a week-long trip to the Caribbean.

Frugal Kisses,

Head Pro

Send Head Pro your questions about life, love and shared credit cards to [email protected]




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