How Much Do Your Parents Know?

Last week I was debating whether or not I should include all the crazy blog money I’ve been raking in πŸ˜‰ when I do a net worth update. I decided that I should because income is income, but it got me thinking about something else: how much do other people know about your finances? Since I’m college age and assume most people reading this are my age, the main people I’m talking about are your parents.

Besides you peeps, no one I know in real life has any clue that $2,496 is sitting in a business checking account with my name on it. It’s possible my dad knows something is up because junk mail has started coming to the house with my semi-officical business name on it. Damn post office can’t let me keep a secret! Overall though, my online business dealings are private. Unless you posess the skillz necessary to Google my name. πŸ˜‰

My parents don’t much else about my finances either. My dad is still listed on one of my checking accounts, but he never checks the balance or anything. My parents know I have a Roth IRA and some other accounts, but have no idea what’s in them.

All this got me thinking about how much should parents know about their kids’ money? I don’t try to be secretive or anything, but they’ve never asked and I’ve never volunteered the information. But do parents have a right to know the details of what their child spends/saves/invests/etc? I’d tell mine anything they’d ever want to know, but I know not everybody has the same relationship with their rents. What does your situation look like?

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4 Responses to How Much Do Your Parents Know?

  1. Neil June 6, 2011 at 11:09 AM #

    This is entirely situational. When you’re a minor, your parents are legally responsible for you, so yes, they have a right to know anything they ask.

    Once you’re an adult, it’s a question of independence. If your parents are continuing to pay for things (school, housing, food, whatever), or are cosigning a loan, then they’re entitled to make those things contingent on being kept in the loop about your financial life. How much in the loop I think depends on them, but if they ask a question and your response is “it’s none of your business,” then I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect that a financial lifeline will be cut in response.

    I still owe my parents some money. Not much, just around $3000, but I haven’t made a payment since my wife went back to law school. I cleared it with them first, of course, but I still feel really guilty anytime I spend a significant amount of money on a luxury. Still, my parents have never asked questions about it, and I’m just as happy with that.

  2. krantcents June 6, 2011 at 5:50 PM #

    As a parent of adult children, I discuss financial issues with my children. I think they feel comfortable because I am unbiased and nonjudgmental. I am able to advise without interfering in their lives.

  3. Austin@WICWA June 7, 2011 at 11:55 AM #

    My parents are pretty financially savvy, so if questions about money lead to what my wife and I make and spend, we’re generally open. It helps, too, that there is a huge level of trust between all of us. I know that my parents would never use that knowledge against me or my wife.

    I do agree with Neil, too, that it is very situation-dependent. If I were a parent supporting my child(ren) through college even, I would be pretty insistent on knowing their financial situation especially if I noticed something fishy.

  4. Ross @ Go Be Rich June 7, 2011 at 12:07 PM #

    In the far-off future when I have children, I’m pretty much thinking that if they live in my house and haven’t yet graduated from High School, then it’s my business. That’s not to say that there will be this magical cut-off switch as soon as they graduate that says it’s no longer my business, but I think my right to know will sort of fade out over time as my fictional children grow older. Then again, I plan on teaching my kids as much about money as I possibly can from day one, so it’ll probably be a regular, natural topic of discussion anyway. Speaking of this topic, you should check out my post on the relationship between parent’s and children’s attitudes on money.

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