I never understood accepting money you hadn’t earned ... until I moved back home after college.
As I’m in law school right now and am currently unemployed, I have no income. Needless to say, I have eaten through most of my savings the past four months, despite the fact that I’m living at home. The close family proximity and lack of income has created a rather awkward situation for a college graduate such as myself: Hi, my name is Joe Carey, I’m 22 years old, and my parents give me an allowance.
I didn’t give in to this humiliating lifestyle change without a fight. The first few times my parents tried giving me money directly my reaction was akin to trying to give a cat a bath. In other words, I wasn’t having it.
But, after a while, I relented.
The initial offering went something like this:
Dad: Your mother and I are thinking of giving you an allowance.
Me: But . . . I’m 22 years old.
Dad: I’m guessing that won’t stop you from taking it.
Me: Does this mean I’m going to have to do chores?
In spite of any initial shame, I have come to find that the addiction to free money is inherent in all humans. Well, all Americans at least. Nowadays, if my parents haven’t given me money in a while, I notice. And as pathetic as it is, I have grown accustomed to spending my parents’ money, despite the fact my friends have become very good at making fun of me for having an allowance. (“I remember when I was 8-years-old and I did my chores for no allowance because I’m a responsible human being,” one so-called friend said.)
Though they paid for most of my college education, (which was much more expensive than the $100 a month or so I get now), being handed money directly just feels different. There is a certain sense of shame I feel from receiving an allowance that I didn’t feel when parents were sending the Jesuits at Marquette University their bi-semester pittance.
The truly sad thing about the situation is my brothers and I were never given an allowance while growing up. If we wanted to buy something, we didn’t. And that was that. It wasn’t until I was 14 and got a part-time job that I could start buying my own things.
While I’m certainly not throwing away the money I receive, (it mostly goes toward food and drink), I still feel a sense of debt and gratitude to my parents that I will likely never be able to repay, mostly because I’m not going to repay them this money. Unlike yours truly, they won’t take my money.
Somehow, I missed that gene.
I’m not going to be able to enjoy this free ride forever. I don’t have time for a job currently because of the busy schedule law school has presented. However, summer will come soon, and with it a job, (hopefully). And that is how I am able to justify my six-month stint on the free-rider express: eventually, this train will come to a stop, and I will step out into the cold, cruel world to provide for myself.
Or maybe I’ll just live at home another 30 years ... who knows.