My parents bought my first car and paid my college tuition - but looking back, I wish they hadn't
Courtesy of Laura Dunn
- My parents are incredibly caring and generous, and they paid for everything when I was a teenager: They bought me my first car, paid my entire college tuition, and never asked me to work before sophomore year of college.
- But looking back, I almost wish they'd been less generous. I think working for things as a teenager and earning your own money teaches you important life lessons, and I intend to ask more of my own children one day.
- While they taught me and my brother how to manage money, they never asked us to do the hard work of managing it when we were young, and I think we should have.
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My folks are two happily married people who taught my brother and me how to compromise, show love, and go for what we wanted. They demonstrate true love to everyone they come in contact with and they are #CoupleGoals all the way. There's no way for any two people to be better parents.
Nonetheless, there's one thing I wish they would have instilled in me: how to best manage my money. Though they taught us what to do, they didn't make us do the hard work. While I wouldn't consider myself handicapped in terms of paying my bills or being an adult, there are three areas where they could have instilled a stronger sense of financial independence in their two kids.
I wish my parents had made me get a job before college
I feel incredibly fortunate that I grew up comfortably. It isn't that my mom and dad spoiled us or gave us whatever we wanted. We thrift shopped, always bought things on sale, and were often told no when we wanted something.
But aside from the typical family chores, I never worked a day of my life until my sophomore year of college. Even then, the money I earned in college was used for socializing, not to pay my tuition.
I wish my parents hadn't bought me my first car
When I turned 16 years old, my parents bought me my first car: a used Honda Accord. I loved that car and the freedom it gave me. However, I remember feeling a bit guilty when my other friends got their first car as a result of their after school and summer jobs.
I wish my parents hadn't paid my college tuition
I went to my dream school, but I think it would have been better if I hadn't. While I'm grateful for that experience, I wish they would have made me work for my tuition starting from a younger age. I also think it would have been better if I had gone to a community college, at least for one semester, so I could figure out what I wanted to do for a career before having my parents shell out $21,000 per semester at my private college.
It isn't that I had a bad time or that I regret going to school in Chicago. I just wish they hadn't paid the entire $210,000 for me to do it. After all, it was my dream college, so I don't think it would have been too hard to convince me to work for it. If I had spent a few summers or after-school hours working, I think it would have been much less likely that I'd go on to accumulate $23,000 in credit card debt or $33,000 in grad school debt.
I'll do things a little differently with my own kids
My parents' generosity comes from a really good place. They are the most caring people I know. They just wanted the best for us, and I really can't thank them enough for all they sacrificed for us to live comfortably.
I hope I can be at least half as nurturing, kind, loving, and generous as my parents one day if I have my own kids. But my kids will work while in high school (or sooner), save up for milestones like owning a car and going to college, and give a lot more thought to where they go to college and what it's going to cost. I hope that by teaching them these life lessons, they'll turn out to be incredible human beings.