For many young people, one of the biggest fears of financial independence revolves around what happens in the event of a disaster. Should you expect to be able to move back in if something goes awry? Will they provide financial assistance? Or are you on your own? Although it is best to expect no assistance at all and plan accordingly, it is often better for everyone to understand what others are thinking and expecting of them, so that when a crisis comes, there are no damaged expectation and damaged relationships.
Here are some ways to handle a financial crisis with regards to your parents, both before and during the crisis.
Don’t expect anything. Being independent means that you’re not depending on anyone for anything. Remember that in your independence, your parents are setting you up to be their equal, not their child. They don’t rely on their parents for support (well, if they do, there are bigger familial problems than this post can address), so if you wish to be considered an equal, why should you expect the same?
Talk to your parents about these “what ifs.” If you’re considering a move with some risk, simply find out what your parachute is like. Don’t assume anything at all; simply have a healthy conversation where everyone’s beliefs and expectations are laid out on the table. Quite often, your parents will be able to offer you assistance in nonfinancial ways that you might not even imagine.
Don’t hold a grudge if you don’t hear what you hope to hear. If you believe that your parents would help you no matter what and you hear otherwise, don’t hold a grudge against them. A healthy relationship with parents can be an invaluable thing to have through thick and thin; just because they don’t provide financial support to you any more is a poor reason to abandon that relationship.
When a crisis occurs, be open about it. Once it is clear that there is no financial expectation, you should be open with your parents about financial crises. They can provide emotional support, counseling, and perhaps other invaluable nonfinancial assistance.
Ask for their assistance in planning in advance for a crisis. This is a very useful step for protecting yourself from future mistakes. Suggest that your parents set up a savings account with you that can only be withdrawn upon with both of your signatures, then make deposits into this account as an emergency fund. Your parents may be willing to make some deposits as well. Then, if you face a financial crisis, you’ve got several things in your corner: great counselors who can provide advice and financial resources to draw upon if there is no other way out. Plus, setting up such a fund and sticking to it is perhaps the clearest sign of all to your parents that you are being successfully independent. Even better, this measure prevents you from dipping into that emergency fund for unnecessary things.