How Soon After My Wedding Can I Ask My Parents For Money?

Now? How about now?

Image: fourbyfourblazer

In the months leading up to my marriage, I dropped a bomb on my parents: I told them that I wanted to be financially independent.

Most parents would cheer, high five, and treat themselves to a fancy dinner upon learning their youngest child no longer wanted their money. They would probably ask, “What took you so long?”

However, my parents, and my dad in particular, became a bit emotional at the news. Growing up, I rarely asked my parents for money and they were stingy with giving me extra cash as a kid. As a result, I learned to work hard and set fiscal goals for what I wanted and earn that money myself.

Once I hit 20 or so, they softened. Maybe they realized they had raised a hard-working woman and wanted to reward me. Maybe they were emotional to see their only daughter — their baby — grow up. As I moved away to college and traveled all over the world, I think sending me money was my dad’s way of taking care of me even though he rarely saw me.

A couple months before my wedding, my car starter broke. The mechanic’s quote was $500 for the purchase and installation of a new one. (Yes, I know, if I learned to work on cars, I would stop getting ripped off by mechanics.) My dad offered to pay, as he had always helped me with car stuff. My reply shocked him: “Thank you very much for offering, but that’s unnecessary.”

My fiancé, Daniel, and I weren’t rich by any means; the fact that $500 threw us for a loop is proof. We hadn’t accrued much in savings, but for the first time in my life, I had a financial partner. I came home, broke the news to Daniel about my car, and he said, “Don’t worry. We can pay for it. We’ll get through this.”

Rather than receiving the traditional edict from my parents that I’d been cut off, I proudly took the initiative to move toward financial independence. I respected myself more, and I looked my parents in the eyes as a fellow adult.

Three weeks after our wedding, Daniel and I moved to China.

The move to Asia had been in the works for a while, but we were still caught off guard by the change. The months prior to our wedding, we had applied through an American agency to teach English in a Korean or Chinese school. We had waited patiently for an email saying we had an interview, but nothing came through. We figured we wouldn’t have a job in Asia until January or February.

The week leading up to our October 1st wedding, we had an interview with a Chinese school. They hired us on the spot, and life got chaotic. Our Asian adventure was moved up several months. We went on our honeymoon for two weeks, flew home, and had exactly one week to get everything together to start teaching in Shenzhen, China.

Daniel and I are well-seasoned travelers, but we were embarrassingly unprepared for China.

We didn’t realize that we would have to pay three months’ rent upfront, as well as an agent fee for the woman who helped us find an apartment. We thought the school paid her fee. On the heels of spending $1,500 on last-minute plane tickets, we ended up dropping $3,000 our first week in the country, nearly wiping out our savings account.

What’s more, we still had to pay off the credit card we had used in order to earn frequent flyer miles. Daniel also must keep making payments toward minor student loans. Obviously, we planned on buying food and toilet paper at some point.

To top it all off, most schools in China don’t pay their native English teachers until the month following their start date. Due to our arriving in late October, we found out we wouldn’t be paid until December 20th — almost two months after our arrival date.

Some of these details weren’t mentioned in our contract. Others were mentioned, but the Chinese-to-English translation left much to be desired and we hadn’t understood everything correctly. We had been so caught up in the rush of our preparations that we overlooked important details. We lay in our hotel room, completely bewildered and depressed, afraid to leave the room in fear of spending more money.

I didn’t want to ask my parents for help. I thought we might be able to stick it out until our first payday. After all, we are experts in frugality if nothing else. The worst part is that I knew they would graciously — enthusiastically, even — say yes. They had just helped us pay for our wedding. They wouldn’t guilt me. Which meant I had to take on the burden of guilting myself. If there is one maxim in life, it’s that someone has to feel guilty about borrowing money. This time, it was me.

So after proudly proclaiming my financial independence, less than a month into my marriage, I had to call my parents to ask for money. Daniel called his parents to request a loan, too. Both sets of parents were overly kind in their giving.

When Daniel apologized for asking, his dad simply replied, “This is life, get over it. Sometimes you just have to ask for help.”

I had always claimed that people who still rely on their parents’ money shouldn’t get married. They obviously weren’t ready. As usual, I ate those words.

The relationship between parent, child, and money will always be a tricky one. Of course, everyone’s family relationships are unique. For whatever reason, some people may not be able to ask their parents for money. Other peoples’ parents may not be in the financial position to give them money. I’m well aware that asking relatives for cash is a privilege not everyone has. The point is that we have to ask for help.

I’m sure this won’t be the last time I have to ask my parents to spot me one. I’m going to have to set aside my pride and make that phone call from time to time. This is life.

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