The Real World

I'm deviating a bit from my thematic postings today to focus on a few observations of adulthood that I'm curious to hear your input on WSO. It's funny – we all grow up a significant amount in college, but I feel that I've grown more in my single year out of school than in my previous twenty-two having lived on this planet. And what fascinates me even more is that there's still an entire life of learning ahead of me.

In my case, the growth I experienced was highly correlated with weaning myself off the parental dime. First, it starts with reducing the frequency of contact – I went to a school 1,000 miles away, so the weekly calls turned into bi-weekly calls, which have now turned into sporadic monthly check-ins since I moved out to California. Moreover, both the content and the context of these calls have changed. What before were conversations revolving around advice, guidance, and frankly asking for help with next semester's variable costs have now turned into a dialogue something like this:

  • Me: Hey Dad – Happy Father's Day! How are things?
  • Dad: Hey, thanks for calling. Good good. Not too much different around here. So and so says hey…yeah not too much else to update you on really… you need anything?
  • Me: Nope, all good on my end.
  • Dad: Ok – guess I'll talk to you again soon!

This is by no means a bad thing. It is just amazing to me to think about how my relationship with my parents has evolved versus two years ago when I was in the midst of the post-undergraduate job hunt. It's even weirder when you see them in person. Do you buy your parents rounds of drinks? Do you let them still pick up the tab at the expensive restaurant you loved back home? Do you let them come out and party with you in the first place?

Such is the peculiar transition that happens once you make it to the real world. I should also add that working in finance tends to make the transition even weirder – the majority of us will be earning a salary and utilizing the financial savvy to have a healthy degree of disposable income. We don't need to be on our parent's insurance anymore, we can make our own car payments, we're slowly building credit histories, and Amex is falling head over heels to get us to sign up for their rewards cards.

Anyway, with that being said, I turn it back to you – prospective monkeys, what are you most apprehensive about in terms of leaving the parental safety net (if at all)? Current monkeys like me, do you echo my sentiments, or has your experience been entirely different? And older monkeys for whom my musings may have little or no relevance, do the bills honestly just keep coming? I just found out today I needed renter's insurance…

Comments (28)

Jun 18, 2012 - 6:15pm
Adelbert_Buffington, what's your opinion? Comment below:

ditto. It's weird how impersonal the relationship with parents begins to feel when you don't depend on them for money. I'm a recent grad (May '12), and since moving to a different city and starting to work some moderate hours relative to the vacation of school, I feel like I depend on my parents much less emotionally and not at all financially. I'm a little homesick, but it's a good feeling. Now the only time I really see them is vacations, but they also plan to visit for a golf weekend or fly me and gf out to the Vineyard with them at the end of the summer. So more fun - less stress.

The freedom is pretty great.

It is better to be vaguely right than exactly wrong - JMK
  • 1
Jun 18, 2012 - 6:31pm
bankerella, what's your opinion? Comment below:
Californicated88:
And older monkeys for whom my musings may have little or no relevance, do the bills honestly just keep coming? I just found out today I needed renter's insurance…

Oh yeah, dude. I remember how that first year on my own felt. I made more in a year than my folks had made in the previous four. I don't think Bill Gates feels as rich as I felt that year.

But renter's is just the hors-d'oeuvre, and that's only like $20 a month. Turns out that life grows but it never f'ing shrinks. You start to enjoy stuff. You get hobbies. And suddenly your hourly opportunity cost spikes so high that you start outsourcing your life like crazy. Once you stop mopping your own floor, you're never gonna do it again because your life will stop making room for it.

Problem is, for most of us there's a wide gap between "way richer than my folks" and regularly having a lot of true disposable income.

Two data points.

1: Right out of college, my budget started out at 14 lines.

2: During b-school, it expanded to over 100 lines.

(Caveat on this: you need to be either rich, stupid, or a douche to live this way. I wasn't rich and still am not; jury's still out on the other two options.)

This 100-liner included: housekeeping, tax prep, life and disability insurance, scrips, copays, valet cleaners. Legacy subscriptions I kept trying to find time to cancel. In one year: new smartphone, replacement smartphone, three separate tablets, two f'ing laptops. I didn't have a lawn but I did pay a landscaper to maintain my 15x5 terrace garden (douchbag move; especially since I worked in a different city all summer. Still trying to figure that one out).

Then of course there's taxis, entertainment, restaurants, wine and spirits, specialty groceries, online groceries, and a bunch of other crap that sounds like disposable income in college but at a certain point slips over into the "staples" category along with toilet paper and toothpaste.

And all of this is during a year with only 10 weeks of paid employment.

I also recently added $1000/month for something that saves me eight hours per month. (That said, the specific hours in question are in very high demand.) There's probably a bunch of other stuff that I'm not even aware of since there are too many hands in the cookie jar for me to keep track of them all. All I know is, the money goes. I feel exactly as rich as I felt in undergrad, except with way higher leverage.

Congrats on your rite of passage. My advice is to stay out of trouble, keep your leverage down, and be anal about your credit score.

Jun 21, 2012 - 7:30pm
BlackHat, what's your opinion? Comment below:
bankerella:
Californicated88:
And older monkeys for whom my musings may have little or no relevance, do the bills honestly just keep coming? I just found out today I needed renter's insurance…

Oh yeah, dude. I remember how that first year on my own felt. I made more in a year than my folks had made in the previous four. I don't think Bill Gates feels as rich as I felt that year.

But renter's is just the hors-d'oeuvre, and that's only like $20 a month. Turns out that life grows but it never f'ing shrinks. You start to enjoy stuff. You get hobbies. And suddenly your hourly opportunity cost spikes so high that you start outsourcing your life like crazy. Once you stop mopping your own floor, you're never gonna do it again because your life will stop making room for it.

Problem is, for most of us there's a wide gap between "way richer than my folks" and regularly having a lot of true disposable income.

Two data points.

1: Right out of college, my budget started out at 14 lines.

2: During b-school, it expanded to over 100 lines.

(Caveat on this: you need to be either rich, stupid, or a douche to live this way. I wasn't rich and still am not; jury's still out on the other two options.)

This 100-liner included: housekeeping, tax prep, life and disability insurance, scrips, copays, valet cleaners. Legacy subscriptions I kept trying to find time to cancel. In one year: new smartphone, replacement smartphone, three separate tablets, two f'ing laptops. I didn't have a lawn but I did pay a landscaper to maintain my 15x5 terrace garden (douchbag move; especially since I worked in a different city all summer. Still trying to figure that one out).

Then of course there's taxis, entertainment, restaurants, wine and spirits, specialty groceries, online groceries, and a bunch of other crap that sounds like disposable income in college but at a certain point slips over into the "staples" category along with toilet paper and toothpaste.

And all of this is during a year with only 10 weeks of paid employment.

I also recently added $1000/month for something that saves me eight hours per month. (That said, the specific hours in question are in very high demand.) There's probably a bunch of other stuff that I'm not even aware of since there are too many hands in the cookie jar for me to keep track of them all. All I know is, the money goes. I feel exactly as rich as I felt in undergrad, except with way higher leverage.

Congrats on your rite of passage. My advice is to stay out of trouble, keep your leverage down, and be anal about your credit score.

Marry me.

I hate victims who respect their executioners
  • 2
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Nov 8, 2012 - 9:42am
ST Monkey, what's your opinion? Comment below:
BlackHat:
bankerella:
Californicated88:
And older monkeys for whom my musings may have little or no relevance, do the bills honestly just keep coming? I just found out today I needed renter's insurance…

Oh yeah, dude. I remember how that first year on my own felt. I made more in a year than my folks had made in the previous four. I don't think Bill Gates feels as rich as I felt that year.

But renter's is just the hors-d'oeuvre, and that's only like $20 a month. Turns out that life grows but it never f'ing shrinks. You start to enjoy stuff. You get hobbies. And suddenly your hourly opportunity cost spikes so high that you start outsourcing your life like crazy. Once you stop mopping your own floor, you're never gonna do it again because your life will stop making room for it.

Problem is, for most of us there's a wide gap between "way richer than my folks" and regularly having a lot of true disposable income.

Two data points.

1: Right out of college, my budget started out at 14 lines.

2: During b-school, it expanded to over 100 lines.

(Caveat on this: you need to be either rich, stupid, or a douche to live this way. I wasn't rich and still am not; jury's still out on the other two options.)

This 100-liner included: housekeeping, tax prep, life and disability insurance, scrips, copays, valet cleaners. Legacy subscriptions I kept trying to find time to cancel. In one year: new smartphone, replacement smartphone, three separate tablets, two f'ing laptops. I didn't have a lawn but I did pay a landscaper to maintain my 15x5 terrace garden (douchbag move; especially since I worked in a different city all summer. Still trying to figure that one out).

Then of course there's taxis, entertainment, restaurants, wine and spirits, specialty groceries, online groceries, and a bunch of other crap that sounds like disposable income in college but at a certain point slips over into the "staples" category along with toilet paper and toothpaste.

And all of this is during a year with only 10 weeks of paid employment.

I also recently added $1000/month for something that saves me eight hours per month. (That said, the specific hours in question are in very high demand.) There's probably a bunch of other stuff that I'm not even aware of since there are too many hands in the cookie jar for me to keep track of them all. All I know is, the money goes. I feel exactly as rich as I felt in undergrad, except with way higher leverage.

Congrats on your rite of passage. My advice is to stay out of trouble, keep your leverage down, and be anal about your credit score.

Marry me.

Better not let your fiancee see this post bro.

Best Response
Nov 8, 2012 - 3:57pm
Unforseen, what's your opinion? Comment below:
bankerella:
Californicated88:
And older monkeys for whom my musings may have little or no relevance, do the bills honestly just keep coming? I just found out today I needed renter's insurance…

I also recently added $1000/month for something that saves me eight hours per month. (That said, the specific hours in question are in very high demand.) There's probably a bunch of other stuff that I'm not even aware of since there are too many hands in the cookie jar for me to keep track of them all. All I know is, the money goes. I feel exactly as rich as I felt in undergrad, except with way higher leverage.

Congrats on your rite of passage. My advice is to stay out of trouble, keep your leverage down, and be anal about your credit score.

Sick brag about having a Gigolo.

As for me, I am in a similar situation as JamesHetfield, and the way I got past having convos like the OP is by talking about two things:

  1. Hobbies. My father and I both love formula 1 and golf. We talk about it all the time and watch the races/tournament while we skype, etc.

  2. Gossip. Cousin x got married, uncle y cheated on his wife, friend C is moving to x country...all good gossip. there's usually enough gossip per week for at least a 30 min convo

Jun 18, 2012 - 6:36pm
ScoobyDoobie, what's your opinion? Comment below:

My relationship with my parents really changed when I started to make more money than them.

Harvey Specter doesn't get cotton mouth.
Jun 18, 2012 - 6:53pm
BTbanker, what's your opinion? Comment below:
ScoobyDoobie:
My relationship with my parents really changed when I started to make more money than them.
Haha. How did that go? Were they happy, intimidated, proud?
Jun 18, 2012 - 7:04pm
ScoobyDoobie, what's your opinion? Comment below:
Connor:
ScoobyDoobie:
My relationship with my parents really changed when I started to make more money than them.
Haha. How did that go? Were they happy, intimidated, proud?

I'm not talking large sums (parents made about 60k each) but they really stopped giving advice, as most advice was money related. My dad acts proud but I can sense a little resentment/envy in that he really made the same salary his whole working career. I really never understood his lack of effort and kind of look down upon him because of it. Typical baby boomer victim mentality... blames everyone else for why his career has flat lined for the past 25+ years.

Harvey Specter doesn't get cotton mouth.
  • 1
Nov 8, 2012 - 1:35pm
lostchimp, what's your opinion? Comment below:
ScoobyDoobie:
My relationship with my parents really changed when I started to make more money than them.

All of these couldn't be more spot on! I have grown so much more after graduating, and I have finally started to wipe my own ass!

Jun 18, 2012 - 7:43pm
In The Flesh, what's your opinion? Comment below:

It always feels good to once in a while treat your folks to something nice. Whenever I go home for a visit, I always bring something (usually an upscale food or drink item) as a small token of letting them know they've done right by me.

Metal. Music. Life. www.headofmetal.com
Jun 18, 2012 - 10:08pm
TOJSHU, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I heard a good line about fiscal discipline the other day in the elevator (someone from a law firm): I like to spread my purchases to a bunch of different credit cards so it seems like I'm not spending as much.

This showed me that educated people (and presumably upper middle class) can really have no idea about money. This is what I've found the most fascinating.

Jun 19, 2012 - 10:14am
john rolfe, what's your opinion? Comment below:
TOJSHU:
I heard a good line about fiscal discipline the other day in the elevator (someone from a law firm): I like to spread my purchases to a bunch of different credit cards so it seems like I'm not spending as much.

This showed me that educated people (and presumably upper middle class) can really have no idea about money. This is what I've found the most fascinating.

As long as he pays the balance at the end of the period, he doesn't have a problem. There is no incentive to prepay your payables unless there's a financial penalty.

I doubt he knows that though.

Jun 19, 2012 - 10:16am
George87, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Californicated88, I'm sure there are more things you say to your dad than what you described in your convo above... especially after he's footed your college bill and life expenses for the past 20+ years. I've also noticed that the relationship with my folks has changed since leaving college in 2010. No longer dependent on their $$$ and look for guidance in an adult-adult setting, versus, adult-college kid context. My mom seems not to care that I graduated and still showers me with life advice regardless. My dad has become a bouncing board for ideas mostly and we talk things out in regards to my career plans, personal life, friendships, etc. More so, I've become more involved and privy to some of the things/decisions that they make in their lives, and to my surprise I'm being asked for an opinion on some important financial/real estate decisions. But maybe that's just my family, Eastern European and all...

Either way, great post, and something I'm sure most of us ponder during and after our first year out of college.

Jun 19, 2012 - 10:35am
Californicated88, what's your opinion? Comment below:

George87, obviously the conversation was longer, but that was the gist of it. And yes, I 100% agree with you and share the sentiment and gratitude. That particular conversation just struck me as interesting and got me thinking (and inspired this post).

Nov 8, 2012 - 9:24am
mongoose, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Spare a though for people like us:

Left home country at the age of 18 to go to college in America. Home is 5000 miles away. Haven't seen family for >4 years (can't afford the $2000 round trip in college). Still try to stay in touch and try to skype weekly with the parents. A little bit of a different experience than you guys. I have never felt emotional about this, but someday I know I will.

Nov 8, 2012 - 10:22am
Bearearns, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I really was hoping for MTV real world conversation

That said, renters insurance is like $100. And conversations can always be worse like unhappy at job etc. Likely makes sense to get Amex card and start building credit...... things don't change much, but every now and then, treat them out. It will make them feel extra proud

Nov 8, 2012 - 10:30am
In The Flesh, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I'm sure IlliniProgrammer is smirking and shaking his head at the expense report bankerella listed...

Metal. Music. Life. www.headofmetal.com
  • 1
Nov 8, 2012 - 10:34am
CaR, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I've been out and working for six months now and my relationship with the folks couldn't be better. I'll be lucky to make what my dad makes in 15 years, but that's completely irrelevant. The satisfaction they get from watching me pay my own bills, take out my own car loans and the like wouldn't change even if I made 20x my income. When I fucked up and realized registering new vehicles costs almost $1,000 the first year my dad thought it was the funniest thing in the world, in spite of my overdrawn bank account and sky high frustration. That's just growing up--they don't teach you that shit in school. It's also amazing to me how much more they're willing to talk to me about; the whole "I'm the boss, now listen up" dynamic is completely evaporated and I feel like I've learned more about them in the last half year than the last 22. The life lessons from mom will continue for eternity, but once you enter adulthood, you realize the life lessons are truly that; lessons learned by someone more than twice your age with a whole lot more to talk about

Nov 8, 2012 - 12:32pm
droking7, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I have been paying bills, education, etc. since my sophmore year of high school. (Junior in college now.) Probably contributed about 20K to my education, plus all my food, booze, entertainment. My parents only pay my rent. They make about 70-80k combined. Needless to say, even making 50k a year out of college will feel like balling out of control, although that will hopefully be a (very) conservative estimate.

But ya, paying bills and being responsible does feel good. Can't wait to ball though, cant WAIT!

Nov 15, 2012 - 1:21am
snakeplissken, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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Remember, once you're inside you're on your own. Oh, you mean I can't count on you? No. Good!
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Apr 19, 2021 - 7:46pm

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