Every time I start to feel like I’m getting the hang of this adulting thing, something comes out of nowhere and knocks me upside the head.
I may live in my parent’s house, but this summer I’ve done a lot of growing up. I learned how to mail a letter make my own coffee. I have my first 9-5 job. I pack my lunch every day and eat in the break room with my coworkers. I have to dress semi presentable, meaning I can’t wear Nike shorts and an XL sorority tshirt. I do independent research and am responsible for my own experiments. I sit through an hour and a half of traffic every day. I stop by the gym on my way home from work and some days I cook my own dinner. Okay so that’s totally a lie I do not cook my own dinner because it’s like 6pm by the time I get home and Mom has dinner made and who doesn’t want someone else to have dinner ready when you walk in the door exhausted from work? No one sane, that’s who.
So I’ve been living in this adult world and I’m starting to think about things like an adult should, and I started thinking about finances. I’m not money wise. In fact, I know I am money dumb. All of my money is controlled by my parents, except my money jar that has about two thousand dollars of cash inside. My money jar is very cleverly hidden in plain site in my room. I’ve had it forever and it just collects all the cash people give me. It has my two dollar bills, some yen, some British money which is worth 8.4% less now, some arcade coins, and a silver dollar. It’s like my ten-year-old self’s emergency fund.
But now that I’m twenty, I should not have a jar full of money hidden around my room. At least not that much money. But I won’t deposit it into my savings account because my parents control my bank money. All the money in my non jar, real bank savings account came from my high school job at Buffalo Wild Wings, but my mom always threatens to take it if I do something she doesn’t like. For example, when I wanted to go to Canada with my friends over Christmas break, which is only a 7 hour drive from Nebraska, my mom told me that she would lock all of my accounts and I would be on my own for the rest of my life if I went. So I missed my opportunity to drink maple syrup and see a moose.
Before I sound like a complete rich brat, let me explain that all of my college is paid for with military kid scholarships. It even pays for books and tutoring. My parents don’t have to pay for my tuition, but they did have a college fund for me so they are using that money to help me out with my sorority dues, rent, food, etc while I’m in college. I am eternally grateful for their support, but I hate it when my mom holds my hard earned money over my head to control me. If she stops paying my bills and takes away my savings, I’m going to starve within hours.
So I am so desperate to have some freaking control over my own finances like a normal adult. But I have to delicately balance my own need for control with my mom’s need to control me so I don’t end up broke as fuck on the side of the street. First, I looked into starting a savings account that my parents can’t access. After doing some serious calculations, I figured it was really not worth it to open up a new savings account when I could get more interest with my other account. I can revoke my parents’ access to my savings, but that would upset the delicate balance of power over my finances.
Then I thought, wow, I should really look into building some credit. About six years ago I had this same thought after I saw one of those free credit score commercials. When I checked my credit score, it was zero. I thought it meant I owed zero dollars and when I found out that wasn’t the case I decided to start building my credit right then and applied for a credit card. It didn’t really work out. I thought this time would be different. I am twenty years old in my first nine to five job and I was feeling pretty good about my chances. I brought it up to my parents and surprisingly they thought it was a great idea for me to start building credit. So I applied for a credit card through USAA and awaited my acceptance.
You can probably guess that I was denied, but I was honestly shocked. I had always heard that credit cards were given out to college kids like candy, but I couldn’t get one two years in. They said I didn’t have any income, which is true, but kind of shitty for them to point out. I am actually getting paid for my research position, but its a one time housing allowance, not an income. I also applied for a few paid positions in research labs at A&M for the fall, so in the incredibly unlikely event that I get one of those jobs with an income, I can get a credit card. Until then, I’m a loser with no credit and an overbearing mother.
Adulting is hard.