I'm lucky. I have a job that I like (most of the time) and am a mere week from moving into Manhattan. My parents have given me more than I could ever ask for. At this time in my life, I'm the most grateful for graduating debt free, meaning I didn't have to pay off any loans thanks to my parents and other family members. However, the buck stops there. And, as frustrating as that can be sometimes, I also very thankful for that.
My parents taught me from a young age how to manage and budget my money. They showed me that my purchases are more meaningful when I've earned them. I got my first mother's helper job when I was 11 and I remember saving for an outfit from Limited 2. I also remember how gawd-awful it was (think black and white plaid pants, short-sleeved white turtleneck and short-sleeved black corduroy jacket). It was the first thing I bought with my own hard-earned money and I loved it.
Throughout high school I worked at a book shop and in college I babysat at least three times a week. I paid for my books and any meals that weren't on my meal plan. I paid for my spring break trips and all beer I drank over those four years. Sometimes, all I wanted was to have my parents credit card to charge a trip to the grocery store or to buy a new pair of jeans. But I didn't. My move to Hoboken was the same. I received little housewarming gifts from my parents but I paid my security deposit, broker's fee and rent for the 12 months I lived in that first apartment.
I recently read this article in Newsweek. Twentysomething Melody discusses her financial independence from her parents and how many of her peers are not following suit. Her friends in Manhattan and in cities across the country are still, a year or more after graduation, living off of their parents. Melody is living on her own in a city where twentysomethings are forking over more than the recommeneded 30% of their income on rent, buying new clothes, $81 MetroCards each month and expensive groceries. While her friends have Mom and Dad footing the bill.
I agree with Melody that having their parents paying rent and for other living expenses is hindering her friends financially. They aren't learning the value of money or building the credit they will need later in life.
While being financially independent is stressful and usually puts me in the poor house, I'm happy that I am. There is a great sense of freedom that comes along with is and no shopping spree or free apartment could change that.