By Valeria Delgado
USA TODAY Collegiate Correspondent
By Burke/Triolo Productions

The author can’t wait to spend her own money from her own wallet.

My parents could have used $36,000 in a variety of ways. The money would have been enough to purchase Dad’s dream car or a chunk of Mom’s ideal home. But instead they spent it on me.

According to my calculations, which are probably incorrect because I’m not exactly keen at math, I have cost my parents about $750 every month since I started college.

When I began attending the University of Florida in 2009, they were responsible for my rent, car and cellphone payments. At the risk of sounding like a total brat, I will admit that in addition to taking those bills on they’ve also helped in other areas.

Their bank accounts came to the rescue after my car’s radiator broke, that time I dropped my cellphone from the second floor of the student union and when I needed new glasses.

Although I appreciate having had their financial support well beyond my high school graduation, I look forward to being fiscally responsible for myself. With a looming 2013 graduation date, and peeking at the realities of life after college, I truly can’t wait to be able to tell my parents, “It’s OK, I got it.”

The reasoning behind my pro-cut-off mentality can be divided into two categories — one that focuses on the parental unit and one that focuses on my sense of self.

Take a break, Mom and Pops

Not everyone’s parents are willing to help fund the college experience or to support aspirations of pursuing a low-paying job. When I told them I wanted to be a journalist, they didn’t badger me with suggestions to become a doctor or a lawyer instead.

I’ve managed to afford unpaid internship after unpaid internship because they have covered a majority of my expenses. And that’s why I’ll jump for joy when I no longer need their monthly check.

They deserve that phone call from me asking how to transfer the bills to my cardboard box of an apartment. Even if I have to live off of Ramen noodles for years, I want to be able to make that call.

I know that the money will significantly improve their standard of living. Maybe Dad could finally trade his 1993 Lincoln for a 21st-century vehicle. Maybe Mom could hire a personal trainer that can keep up with her. Maybe the two of them could finally take that couples cruise they’ve been talking about for years.

Big-girl life means big-girl responsibilities

Now, I know that switching over finances isn’t going to be as simple as moving my cap’s tassel from right to left. I know that it’ll be a few months, if not longer, for me to take on that much financial responsibility. But I believe that I won’t completely feel like an adult with Mom and Dad constantly paying my dues.

I need to learn what it’s like to work in order to live. I thirst for the experience of covering a story so that I can pay a portion of my utilities. As crazy as it might sound, I want to look at my declining balance and know that the $234.75 on the screen is all mine.

Four years ago, I thought I was entering the “real world,” but I was wrong. The truth is that the real world doesn’t involve 10 a.m. alarms, long summer breaks or financial aid from home. Although the three will be tough to give up after graduation, I’m actually eager to get rid of the latter.

Valeria Delgado is a Fall 2012 USA TODAY Collegiate Correspondent. Learn more about her here.

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