A friend of mine lives in a part of the country where expenses are so high that nearly every couple works two high-paying jobs and still struggles financially. So how do they get buy?
The answer shocked me – they accept money from their parents.
“It’s not a matter of whether you do or do not accept money from your parents,” she said. “But how much.”
My friend was talking about more than simple birthday or Christmas gifts. For her and her friends, parentalï¿½cash flowï¿½affects the household’s bottom line.
Some parents send a check every month. Others give generously at holidays, provide extensive child care, orï¿½pay for entire familyï¿½vacations. Still other parents pay for school tutition orï¿½establish college funds for grand kids.
It can be difficult for grown adults to accept money from parents. Many people turn it down because of pride. Others are held up by particulars. Does there needs to be a written contract? How do you ask for more, or less? Most importantly, is it possible to have “no strings attached”?
A contract is not usually necessary, but depends on what everyone involved is comfortable with. Asking for more or less comes down to explaining the request and being able to accept the answer – and additional strings. Because after the agreement is made, what lingers is the strings.
Financial gifts nearly always come with strings attached. And the bigger the gift, the more strings there are.
For instance, my Mom used to send me $100-$300 every month in college. I had aï¿½family credit card for groceries, but everything else was on me – clothes, movies, subway tokens – and the paycheck from myï¿½part-time job didn’t go far. There were few strings attached to this money, partly because it was a relatively low dollar amount. (Though it did encourage me to call home every week.)
Years later when Hubby and I prepared to buy a condo, my Mom advanced me a large portion of my inheritance so that I could contribute to the downpayment. We wrote up a simple agreement about the terms and both kept a signed copy. The rules were very clear, which made it easier on both of us. The money came with one very strong string – it was not to be used for anything else.
Some years after the condo advance, my Mom offered another fiscal carrot. If I moved back to California (I remained in New York City after graduating) she would give me her car, worth about $10,000. The money came with a very clear string – a California address – and it was one I was happy to accept.
There is nothing wrong with taking money from parents as long as two conditions exisit. The support has got to benefit both sides (don’t take money from parents who can’t afford it). And both sides must agree to and accept the strings attached.