Bank of Mom & Dad

I don’t bedgrudge my 20/30 something friends who have parents to help them out financially, but at some point, we all need to become truly independent — and if that means living below the middle class lifestyle we aspire to until we can really afford it, then so be it.

The Bank of Mom & Dad
By ANNA BAHNEY
Published: New York Times, April 20, 2006
AT 23, Jason McGuinness lives a postcollege life in Manhattan that is very nearly typical. He works as a media research analyst, making about $30,000 a year. Sharing a two-bedroom apartment on the fourth floor of a walk-up building with a roommate on the Upper East Side, his portion of the rent is $1,100 monthly.
The walls are decorated with pennants and posters from Syracuse University, his alma mater. He orders takeout dinners, carries peanut-butter sandwiches to work and occasionally takes in a Mets game with friends.
And like many of his peers — educated, employed, urban-dwelling young adults — he receives monthly assistance from his parents, in the form of a $300 check and the payment of his cellphone bill.
This is not the largesse of wealthy families doled out through trust funds. Nor is the money a couple of $20 bills tucked into a card at the holidays. Mr. McGuinness and others like him are the beneficiaries of an increasingly common subsidy arriving regularly from Mom and Dad, something like a family fellowship.
It helps to pay for housing, bills and travel expenses, and the support has been increasing for the past two decades as education is extended, marriage is delayed and young people take the scenic route from adolescence to adulthood.
“Everybody I know is supporting their children in some way,” said Gail Horowitz, Mr. McGuinness’s mother, a vice president of the Zlokower Company, a public relations firm in Manhattan. Unlike young adults who “boomerang” back home to live with their parents — the subject of the recent comedy “Failure to Launch” — these young people live independently. But they need help to make ends meet, or put another way, to maintain a middle-class way of life.
The bottom line is that the assumption that financial obligations to children ended after graduation from high school or college is going the way of the pay phone. Today, parents are finding that they are on the hook for more, sometimes much more — contributions of thousands of dollars a year to help young men and women get on their feet economically, often into their 30’s.

3 Comments
  1. Hmm. I still live at home, but in no way take money from my parents. I wouldn’t think of it. That’s why I have a job. Not only that, with the severe health care expenses our parents have to face, I find it beyond irresponsible and selfish to expect money from our parents when they should be saving it for retirement and their damn prescription drugs, I mean, come ON! If you want to live on your own, fine, but you should be able to afford it or it should be a structured loan, not just money you get like you’re a little kid.

  2. NYC is absurdly expensive. I don’t know how that guy can survive there on 30K a year even with the parental assistance. At 23, that’s totally cool. At 33, well, you’re pushing it.

  3. There are lots of people (unfortunately many families) who survive on $30K a year and less in New York. It just means that instead of living in a posh neighborhood going out all the time, you live further out or have roommates, you buy groceries for a week, you pack your lunch everyday, you rent a dvd instead of going to the movies, etc. It’s not easy, but its possible.

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