Money is a feminist issue — and yet, women are still reluctant to talk about it. According to a recent Bustle survey of more than 1,000 Millennial women, more than 50 percent of people said they never discuss personal finances with friends, even though 28 percent reported feeling stressed out about money every single day. Bustle's Get Money series gets real about what Millennial women are doing with their money, and why — because managing your finances should feel empowering, not intimidating.
Chances are, you've been there. You graduate high school or college and your parents cut you off, financially speaking. They love you, but now you're on your own. Or maybe they still keep you on their health and/or car insurance for a few more years.
"The first thing that you should do when your parents cut you off is take inventory — understand how much money you have coming in and where it's coming from," Canon Hickman, wealth manager at Equity Concepts, tells Bustle. "The last thing you want to do is have your card get declined at dinner, and you have to ask your friends to pick up the bill. From a practical perspective, you might want to try having two separate checking accounts — have your paycheck auto-deposited into your primary checking account and have all of your bills get automatically drawn from that. Then, take the remaining income that you want to spend, and have that auto-transfer into your second 'spending' account. Also, resist the urge to keep the money tree growing by getting a credit card. It might feel good to have that extra cash now, but you're digging a hole that's hard to get yourself out of."
Where was Hickman when I got out of college?! Great advice, right? Now, I'll share how 18 Millennial women dealt with life after being cut off from their parents. Hint: They survived — woo-hoo! — and below is how they did it, and continue to do so.
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"When my parents stopped supporting me financially, it was the moment I realized that my life was all in my hands — I could either sink or swim. My parents stopped supporting me literally when I decided to move into my first apartment after I graduated from college. For months, they suggested I stay home and save my money, but after being on my own for four years in college, I couldn't go back to living with them full-time. Being cut off from them was tough in the beginning, but I was never 'mad' because I knew it would happen someday."
"My mom stopped supporting me once I graduated and found my first job. It was a HUGE wake-up call. In college, I lived a lavish life, bought what I wanted, did what I wanted, and lived as if money wasn't an option. To say the least, my Christmas list went from Tory Burch to toilet paper. Though it was a lifestyle change, I really learned the value of a dollar (once I was spending my own dollars)."
"As soon as I was done with school, my parents cut me off from the hand-out, but did offer support. They 'helped' with the transition from student to young professional, but kept a meticulous spreadsheet of every cent I borrowed, even when I got laid off from my job. (I was even back-charged for some expenses in my last year of school — fair enough.) I was really shocked when I got the first spreadsheet, because they'd always helped when I needed them, but this time they were serious — the free ride was OVER! :P It took me a long time, but paying them back was the most gratifying thing I've ever done. It's nice to know that I've been financially independent from them for so long, and it was a nice safety to have them during a time of need versus a pricey loan at the bank."
"I moved out of my parents' house last April, and that was when I really learned what it meant to support myself. Since moving to Brooklyn, I pay for everything I own, from my rent to my clothes and everything in between. Thankfully, because I'm under the age of 26, I'm still on their insurance, which is a real blessing. Moving out was definitely a shock — it was scary, but also exciting. I finally realized why my dad used to get so mad when we would leave the lights on for hours (electricity is expensive!). However, I'm so thankful that my parents pushed me to be self-sufficient as soon as I graduated college. I'm not perfect — there are definitely times where I spend $50 at Sephora and immediately check my bank account to make sure I have enough to pay the rent — but I'm surviving!"
"The moment I finished high school, I headed out into the world — I moved to a bigger city, and started working. My mom's good friend lived in the city I moved to, so I stayed with her, which took the load off a bit. I started working six days a week, and felt liberated to be earning my own money and figuring life out in this new chapter. When I know I've worked for it, then I have the freedom to manage it just the way I want, and not feel obligated in any way. So I guess I felt completely free and in charge of my destiny, which felt good."
"I actually cut myself off from financial support halfway through college. My parents are, shall we say, late financial bloomers, and I'm also number six of seven kids. They have a lot of financial demands, and I felt like it was time to start standing on my own. I took out student loans to finish college (which I paid off within four years of graduating) and have supported myself since, besides a few incidentals, like remaining on their health insurance for two years, post-college. I was definitely conscientious of how my expenses affected my parents and their ability to save for retirement. I knew I'd have a lot longer to build a secure financial future than my parents would."
"My parents stopped supporting me at 18, and that was exactly what I expected. Overall, they never really gave me money anyway — I always had to work for it through an allowance or at a job. They did, however, put down a small down payment on my car, and they let me live with them while I was in college. So even though they weren't handing me money, they allowed me to live rent-free. All I had to do was shop for my own food and help out around the house (like I had been expected to do as a kid). The amount of money I saved by them not charging me rent was more support than I could have ever asked for. Eventually, I saved enough to follow my dream of moving to New York. I'm not sure I could have done that if I were paying rent while in college."
"When my parents stopped supporting me, I felt like I had truly become a grown-up. There's nothing like making your own money and being able to support yourself on it. It's like hearing Destiny's Child's 'Independent Women' anthem in your head constantly. The last thing my parents stopped paying for was my cellphone plan. I did fight them a bit on it, and totally pulled a scene from Girls where Hannah is arguing with her parents about how it's cheaper to keep her on the family phone plan. But it also felt great to finally pay for it myself, because it was the last purse string my parents had attached to me. I was truly 100 percent financially independent after that."
"I moved out of my parents' home when I was 17. I have always been fiercely independent and stubborn, so I never resented them not supporting me financially. It really has been a 'learn as you go' process. I'm always striving to educate myself on investing, saving, and creating wealth for my family."
"My mom always taught us to be independent. My parents helped me buy my first car and paid for my cellphone. Once I hit 18, I didn’t want my parents supporting me anymore, which kind of put me in credit card debt! I did learn from that — still recovering now. I started paying for my car at 18 and my car insurance at 20. I moved out at 23 and never moved back. I completely supported myself at that point."
"I stayed on my parents' health insurance until I turned 26 (thanks, Obamacare!). However, with everything else, I've been financially independent since I graduated from grad school and started working full-time (at age 23). I was totally understanding [of my parents no longer supporting me] — they had paid for my rent through grad school, paid for grad school tuition, etc. — so it made sense that I support myself after I started working full-time and had a salary."
"I can't remember the last time my parents supported me. I've even had my own health insurance for years through my universities or employment."
"I asked my parents to stop supporting me once I started working — that was the year I graduated college (7-8 years ago). It felt really good to be able to tell my parents that they could spend money on themselves and not have to worry about me. I know that they still do, but knowing that I can support myself has definitely helped give them peace of mind."
"My parents helped a lot during college, and when they stopped giving me money for food, clothes, and rent, I felt the pain. I didn't realize how much I would have to spend on stuff to clean my apartment with, toiletries, and other random household items. It was jarring for sure, and I had to train myself to stop spending like I was still on my parent's dime. To do that, I took a look at what I valued in life and made a budget accordingly. For example, I used to spend $400/month on clothes. Now, I buy something new once a season, if at all, because I realized trendy clothes don't matter that much to me anymore."
"Honestly, my parents started to 'cut me off' financially after my freshman year in college, when I started working at my college and during my breaks. I do envy my friends who already have paid off their college loans and can brunch every weekend without second thought, because their parents pay their rent or they didn't need to take out college loans. But I honestly doubt I’d have hustled half as hard as I have if it didn't mean making rent, eating food, or doing laundry. I've fought for every dollar I have, and that's a great, and motivating, feeling. That said, I'm still somehow on my parent's family cell phone plan. I try to keep that on the down low, and the day I'm finally booted will be a sad, sad day."
"I went to community college and lived at home for free for my first two years of college. I worked part-time and paid for things like food, gas, and car insurance. But once I earned my associate’s degree, I transferred to a university. My mom paid for ALL my living expenses, including rent, so I didn't have to work and could concentrate on school instead. I am an only child who comes from a single-parent household. My mom worked so much overtime while I was in school to make this happen — I do feel forever indebted to her. I am also fortunate because a big scholarship and prepaid tuition plan (thanks again, Mom!) paid for my college, and I graduated debt-free. Once I graduated (three years later), I got my first entry-level position and my mom then stopped paying for my stuff. Honestly, that was my goal all along for college — achieving true financial independence — so it felt pretty good to stand on my own two feet."
"I must admit, I've had a fairly easy ride as far as external support goes. I'm a bit unusual in that I got married pretty young (at age 20). I literally moved from being supported by my parents to sharing daily expenses with my husband, so that transition wasn’t too drastic at all. My husband has always maintained steady employment and a fairly decent income, so I've never had to worry about money too much."
"I started modeling when I was 12, so I had a savings on top of a steady job. I left home when I was 16 because my mom was abusive. I was totally fine, because I don't believe in living on bended knee to anybody or anything. There isn't anything in this entire world that somebody else can give you that you can't give yourself. It may take longer, but it can be done. Real freedom is being able to do for yourself."
Fellow Millennial Lauren Zangardi Haynes, 33, CFP(r) and CIMA (Certified Investment Management Analyst) at Evolution Advisers, agrees, and has some final words of advice. "In addition to my job, I blog about money/financial planning at Words on Wealth, and I know it can be nerve-wracking to be pushed from the proverbial nest," she tells Bustle. "But as they say, 'knowledge is power,' so take control of your spending and work out a rough budget. It's not nearly as painful as you think. Try Mint.com or YNAB.com if your bank doesn't offer free budgeting software. Google Docs also offers some budget outlines. I always encourage my clients to think of this as a spending plan, not a budget — you choose what you spend your money on, so choose wisely."
See? So it's not as bad as you think when you go out into the world on your own. You'll see.
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