Yes, there was a definite expectation for me to attend college, which was a discussion that started when I was in early middle school. I actively worked to get good grades in the toughest classes in order to attend college. My parents gave me the greatest gift: They paid for all of my undergrad schooling outright. Their financial goal for me and my siblings was that we would graduate from college debt free.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
Zero! We never talked about money, except for sporadic requests for an allowance (which were shot down), conversations about tithing at church (which I never did), and collecting spare change in a plastic Ewok bank. I had no idea what taxes were in a tangible sense or what budgeting actually meant, which set me up for poor money management for all of my adult life. Ironically, my parents are quite wise with money. They simply didn’t grow up in a time or with a model in which people openly discussed money.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
I worked as a babysitter in my neighborhood and then at a childcare center. I got the childcare-center job so I could feel grown up and have a little spending money. It didn’t yield much because I worked the minimum hours each pay period and spent most of my time studying and being active in school organizations. I ended up quitting after about a year.
Did you worry about money growing up?
Not at all. My parents mostly gave me and my siblings anything we wanted and never made us feel like we were in financial straits (even when we were). They also never shared any money stresses with us.
Do you worry about money now?
Constantly! I don’t like to look at the details (like statements) because they make me feel like an incapable adult. It’s embarrassing to admit that I’m financially unskilled, especially because I possess several degrees and am academically educated. And that makes it hard to ask for help. It’s a damn vicious cycle.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
I became financially independent at 26. I have multiple savings accounts with nothing in them, but I do believe in using retirement accounts or life insurance to support your needs when necessary (though practically every financial adviser says pulling from these accounts is the worst choice you can make). So, I guess those are safety nets?
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
My parents paid for my undergraduate education and gave me their cars to use throughout graduate school.