The reason I hate trust-fund twenty year olds

Words by Michelle Andrews.

The day I turned 18 was the day I was deemed financially independent by my parents. Mum and Dad have always exercised ‘tough-love’ parenting, and for them becoming an adult means paying for everything from medical fees to university books all by myself.

At the time I was studying every weekday at University and working weekends at Spend-Less Shoes – earning a tidy $90 a week.

Every time Vodafone emailed me my inflated monthly $300 phone bill (data usage QUEEN) I channelled hateful thoughts towards them both, wishing I had parents who offered to pay my way through University like some of my friends did. You know, those kids who get everything from their parents, the ones who still have Mum buy their clothes for them. The ones who have never seen a phone bill in their entire life. The ones who probably don’t even know what a TFN is… (Wander around Melbourne Uni and you’ll find one in a nanosecond I promise you.)

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Thank-god my parents cut me off.

My turning point was when I found myself, 18 years and 3 months old, sitting on the curb of a Glen Waverley petrol station with just 4 cents to my name. Minutes ago, I had spent my last dollars on a 2 for 1 Mars Bar deal at Shell (later given to my little brother and sister – I don’t even like Mars Bars). I couldn’t so much as afford a bus ticket home. I was ‘financially independent’, I was bankrupt, cold, and probably a little bit ungrateful.

But there’s something that happens when you reach that point – you grow up. Fast.

You realise that there is no magical money tree and that the only way to afford your next bus ticket is to be smarter, and probably skip the next chocolate bar deal. You learn to budget, you learn to plan ahead, and most importantly, you learn to be an adult.

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Recently, I was talking to this 21 year old guy who has never had a proper job.

His excuse was that he plays footy, and apparently that pays enough to keep his social life going in-between his hectic Uni timetable consisting of only one day a week. Everything from his car to his physio fees, he said, are paid for by his recently-single mother. His days are mostly spent sleeping in until noon, playing video games until training time, coming home and then going out with friends… and I have honestly never felt less attracted to a person in my entire life.

When someone asks me what my main ‘turn-ons’ are, on the top of my list is a guy who is motivated and driven. To me, there is no excuse for laziness. If you are able-bodied and mentally stable you should be financially independent from Mummy and Daddy. I don’t care if you’re a motivated engineer or a motivated ticket-inspector, as long as you understand the importance of independence I will find that attractive.

Regardless of how generous your parents are or their willingness to spoil you, you are an adult and you can (and should) make it on your own.

Your parents worked hard for their money, now you can work for yours. It’s not easy, and it’s not fun, but it’s the right thing to do.

A family friend of mine recently explained how “money is a bit tight” for her at the moment because she had just paid for her daughters car repairs of $1500. Her daughter is 19. Her daughter has a job. And her daughter still didn’t offer to pay a cent.

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As infuriating as these people are, they are a welcome reminder of how much freedom and empowerment comes from being financially detached from your parents. At the end of the day, if someone controls your money, and how you can spend it, you are anything but an adult. Living off your parents’ cash may work now, but in ten years’ time, I, along with every other former struggling 20 year old, will laugh at you when you don’t know how to lodge a tax return or can’t pay rent because you don’t have a clue about money.

If you’re old enough to drink alcohol, own property, drive and get married, it’s time to pick up the cheque yourself.

You’re a big kid now, time to start acting like one.