Absolutely. My parents immigrated here in the ’80s and were able to achieve their goals of higher education, so their belief that education is the key to a better life is where their expectations stem from and what they instilled in me. My mom says that all parents want for their kids is for them to be better off than they were — this has really stuck with me. My own expectations of myself come from knowing that they persevered and accomplished what they did with English as their second language, so I should definitely be able to meet them up there. They paid for my prerequisite undergraduate courses and allowed me to take a long and winding route from question mark to computer science to nursing. Finally, I pursued an associate’s degree in nursing that was mostly covered by the county government with two years of working for the county, which saved me a few hundred dollars per semester. From then on, I was working as a nurse so I could afford to pay for my bachelor’s degree as I studied. I am currently figuring out how I will fund my master’s degree.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
My parents and I have always had a fairly open relationship and can converse about almost everything (my mom makes dirtier jokes than my friends do, so I can’t see her really holding back about finances). When I started grade school, I would get a quarter for every page of words I memorized, and as I grew up, I would get an allowance for chores that were each given a monetary value. After chores just got worked into my everyday life as a teenager, I would get a weekly allowance. My dad took me to open my first savings account in high school, but any financial advice took a pause while I was in college until I started my career. They led by example in explaining to never create any credit card debt you can’t pay off immediately and emphasized the importance of retirement savings.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
I worked at a tea shop at 18 because I felt the need to make my own spending money and wanted to practice some Chinese. Other perks of working included drinking free boba milk tea and eating Taiwanese food on the house.
Did you worry about money growing up?
I knew that we were better off than a lot of people but not necessarily rich. I waxed and waned between wanting more expensive purchases that were easy for my friends’ families and feeling guilty for my parents spending too much money on me. However, my parents never made me feel any of that burden.
Do you worry about money now?
I worry about being able to afford a home and take care of my parents and future family, but I don’t worry about money as far as having my basic needs met. However, I am very lucky to have a job in which I will always be able to find work and know that if I need more money, I can just work more. I do hope that I will be able to move up so that I don’t have to work overtime and be unable to enjoy the fruits of my labor.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
As I said, I have technically never paid rent before, but apart from that, I took on all other expenses after I graduated nursing school at 25. My parents are 100% a safety net and my boyfriend continues to voice that he will support me in all ways, including financially, if I ever need it.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
I did have an allowance in high school and some of college. Other than that, passive income came in the form of red envelopes and not having to pay rent. Passive income is definitely the goal!
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