This post was inspired by a Marketplace Money program from last July. The hosts asked all the guests and interviewees to briefly share about the time in their lives when the first felt financially independent. Many answered with “Well, I’m still not…” and others talked about signing their first lease, getting their first full-time job, paying their utilities, that type of thing.
My answer to this question is a bit different and it hinges on the phrasing “felt financially independent.” When I first felt financially independent I was probably not in actuality and definitely not in appearance financially independent from my parents.
After I graduated from college I took about a three-week vacation and then moved back into my parents’ house to start my full-time job at the NIH, which was reasonably nearby. I made enough money to live on my own if I wanted to, but I thought it would be nice to be close to my family again after four years across the country. I read several personal finance books that summer and started getting my ducks in line – I applied for my first credit card, got a decent checking account, opened my Roth IRA, paid off one student loan and deferred the rest. My job provided health insurance so I was only depending on my parents for room and board (in exchange I paid them an almost-rent-equivalent amount of money for their parent loans). I felt financially independent when I set out on my own to do all that learning on personal finance and accomplished what I deemed were the appropriate steps. I knew I could live on my own with no help from my parents if I wanted to, although I didn’t want to just yet. And in fact I moved out of my parents’ house after about six months and became, in actuality and in appearance, financially independent.
When did you first feel financially independent?
photo from Mamboman1