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A student in A UK university town — Money Diary


My parents started saving for school in a 529 plan when I was born, and my university provided ample need-based financial aid. Since my parents made undergraduate education (at the best schools we could get into) an expectation in our house, they felt responsible for paying for our degrees after any scholarships and aid we received. If I have a family, I will do the exact same thing because it help allowed me and my brother to shoot for the stars when it came to colleges. I’m now in a one-year master’s program in the UK that I almost didn’t start because of the personal cost and my fear of taking out loans, given all the horror stories I’ve read. My parents didn’t want this to be a limiting factor because of how much they value education; though they can’t afford to pay for it outright, they are loaning me the money to pay for my degree. I’m returning to the US after this year to take a corporate job I’ve already landed, so I should be able to pay them back within two or three years of graduating.

Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent(s)/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
My parents have always been very frugal people, so most of our conversations about money revolved around saving money for emergencies. I didn’t receive much of an education about finances directly, but I was aware that my parents had things like a mortgage, retirement accounts, and life insurance. I’m really interested in personal finance, so before starting college, I did an entire course to educate myself and be as set up for living on my own as I could be.

What was your first job and why did you get it?
My first real W-2 job was an internship within my state’s judicial system. It was pretty basic office work, but I got to listen to a lot of podcasts and music on the job! Where I went to school, families were optimizing their kids’ résumés from birth, so I got this summer job to improve my résumé. My parents didn’t actually give me access to any of the money I earned from my summer jobs until I got to college, which I have mixed feelings about, but this probably ensured I didn’t waste all my money on fast food and clothes (which I did during undergrad anyways).

Did you worry about money growing up?
Yes and no. My father grew up somewhat in poverty, and that mindset was reflected in our household. He would always compare how much things would cost to how many loaves of bread he could buy with that amount (with one loaf somehow remaining constantly at $1 to this day). I was told “no” all the time for things like snacks and toys, though my mother would occasionally go shopping with me and hide purchases from my father. This kind of restriction, though, meant that when one of my parents lost their job during the recession, I didn’t feel the impact. We would visit one of my parent’s home countries every year, which I later found out was paid for by my mom’s family during some difficult times. Ultimately, there was always money for necessities, school activities, and anything my parents thought would help my brother and I academically, so I never felt too worried.

Do you worry about money now?
Yes, but I feel guilty about it. I opened a Roth IRA when I was 18 and have been consistently trying to max it out. It actually stresses me out when I find out my friends don’t have retirement savings. However, I’m a big saver who also likes to spend, especially on little treats. In college, I worked every semester (sometimes multiple jobs) to pay for my life but was able to save a lot of money with high-paying corporate summer internships and working full-time during a COVID gap year. I’m worried right now about minimizing spending, especially because I’m trying to avoid draining my savings account, but I’m trying to enjoy this next year fully before I start working. Many of my friends in my master’s program are here on scholarships, which can be a bit frustrating when we have different spending habits but want to do things together. And, because my brother is also in college right now, I’m worried that I’m being too much of a burden on my parents since this degree isn’t really “necessary.”

At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
I’m not financially responsible for myself yet. Even though I’m paying my parents back every single cent, I probably would not have felt comfortable taking this opportunity if it weren’t for their financial support. I’m also still on their health insurance in the US, though I paid for healthcare in the UK, and they have still kept me on their phone plan to allow me to keep my American number. Ultimately, they are my financial safety net, but they have never made me feel bad about it.

Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
No. It will hopefully be a long time until my parents pass, and I believe any inheritance from any of my grandparents would go to my parents directly.


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