'I Earn 40k And Live At Home, But I Still Need My Parents To Bail Me Out Each Month'
By Eimear O'Hagan Posted on 9 Nov 2018
Picking up the phone to call my dad, I felt sick. I’d just been hit with a £300 bill for my car’s MOT and, with over a week to go until I was paid, there was no way I could afford it myself.
With no credit card and already into my overdraft, I had no choice but to turn to my parents yet again for a handout. I knew Dad would agree – he’s always reassured me that if I need help, he and Mum are there for me. But that doesn’t make it any less demoralising to be 30, earning what many people would think is a decent salary, and still being bailed out.
I wish I could say this was a one-off, but the truth is rarely a month goes by where I don’t ask them for money. I’m an account director at a digital marketing agency in Bournemouth, and my salary is £30-40k (a monthly average take-home pay of about £2,200), depending on how much commission I earn.
I know many people would look at that income and consider me well off, especially when the average UK salary is around £27,000. But the reality is that even earning that much, it can be hard nowadays to lead a normal, and in no way extravagant, 30-something lifestyle. It’s embarrassing, but not unusual.
A recent study revealed three-quarters of adult children feel guilty about receiving financial help from the Bank of Mum and Dad, while parents can expect to end up £18,000 worse off from supporting their grown-up kids. Not to mention the fact that one in four property purchases now relies on parents chipping in.
On average, Mum and Dad give me between £100 and £500 a month. It might be because of an unexpected expense, like that garage bill, or it could be for something as mundane as buying my lunches at work, because I literally don’t have a penny to my name until payday.
A few months ago, I needed their help paying the £100 excess on my phone insurance when it broke. I’ve even been known to ask for £20 just to afford to sit in with a friend and get a bottle of wine and a takeaway. Pathetic, right?
Eighteen months ago, I moved from London to my hometown of Bournemouth, to try and save for a deposit for a property of my own. The cost of living in the capital had got so high I was finding myself turning to my parents more and more, and believed moving home was the solution.
However, faced with high rents in Bournemouth, I moved back into my childhood home, and pay my parents a reduced rent, another way in which they’re helping me.
Back in my teenage bedroom, this isn’t where I pictured I’d be when I was 30. By now, my 20-year-old self assumed, I’d have my own flat, savings in the bank and be able to look after myself. The reality is I’m not even close to being in that position.
By the time I’ve paid rent, done some food shopping (I want to pay my way as much as I can), settled my phone bill and insured, taxed and put petrol in my car, there’s not a great deal left. I don’t have a credit card because I’m too worried about ending up in debt and making a bad situation worse.
I work in a very sociable industry and there’s an unspoken pressure to join in with Friday night drinks, and I do need to buy clothes for work. Apart from that, I don’t splash out on luxuries. I don’t have a gym membership, I do my own nails, I colour my own hair, and fancy holidays abroad are a pipe-dream. The odd mini-break with friends is as much as I can afford right now.
Even so, there’s rarely anything left in my account as the end of the month approaches. If there is, I save it towards a deposit, but that’s very sporadic and more often than not I find myself turning to my parents.
Dad works in hospitality and Mum is a housewife. Although they’re financially comfortable, they’re not wealthy, and I feel like a burden at a time when they should be able to spend their money on themselves. My younger brother is also living at home, before he moves to London for work, and we joke we’re the boomerang kids – but neither of us is proud of still being dependent.
Dad regularly reminds me he bought his first home when he was 21 – it’s totally alien for his generation to be 30 and in my position. He and Mum are very understanding, but I feel like such a failure as if I’ve let them down by still leaning on them at my age. Most of my friends are in the same boat as me, which means there’s no stigma around it and a sense of solidarity.
Drinking cheap wine in a local bar, we can cheer each other up at least. Like me, their reliance on their parents isn’t to fund luxurious lifestyles. This isn’t about frivolous Millennials who don’t know how to budget; the cost of living is just so painfully high that sometimes even basic expenses are out of reach.
One friend, Kate, confided that she needed help paying for her boiler to be repaired last winter, while another, Anna, who has a child, borrowed cash just to do a food shop recently.
Anyone I know who has bought a property has only been able to do so because their parents have given them the deposit. Everyone else is renting, or moving back home like I did to save. While I feel demoralised to be working full-time in a good job and still unable to support myself, I’m also determined it won’t be forever. My goal is to have saved a deposit and increased my salary in the next couple of years, so I can move out – and finally stand on my own two feet.
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