5 Reasons Financial Independence is Overrated

Everyone’s favorite brand of struggle.

Ten years ago, when I teetered on the precipice of my college graduation, all I could dream about was financial independence. I was more frugal than footloose-and-fancy-free and had spent all four years of undergrad in my parents’ house. That’s right. All. Four. Years.

Being underneath their thumb certainly kept me out of trouble. But my folks were strong proponents of the “my roof, my rules” theology of parenting, which meant they controlled everything from the food in the fridge to whether or not I could go to New Orleans for spring break.

I knew then that I needed to be able to pay for the roof to live by my own rules. I woke up one day in my twenties with no purse strings attached to my parents and I grinned. Then I ran to buy a box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal, because that’s what financially independent people do: they eat all the cereal they want. However, a decade, two trips to NOLA, and umpteen bowls of cereal later, the glory has all but faded from flying solo on my own dough.

Here’s why I’ve come to believe financial independence is overrated:

1. Bills and collectors know your name. Can we all just acknowledge that monthly bills are the greatest annoyance in all the world? I wish I could pay a flat electricity bill yearly and be done with it. When I was a kid, bill collectors were people who called for parents, people you could pass off to an adult because they were talking about “grown-folks'” business. Now, the grown folks are all up in your business. The minute you become financially independent, you cease to have enough money. You barely snuggle with your paycheck for a hot second before an auto draft yanks the covers off. Sallie Mae, I’m looking at you.

2. No more no-strings-attached trips. I grew up in Florida but my extended family lived in Detroit. Every summer, my mother would put me on a plane to the D, courtesy of my grandma. Rightfully, no one troubled little kid Dara about the cost of tickets or food. Now? Flights are prohibitively expensive. I haven’t been back to Detroit in 13 years, because unless I win radio station contests, no one is flying me out anywhere for free. Other adults unreasonably expect you to pay your own way…like an adult. And if you can’t pay your own way, then you are known as a mooch, and nobody wants that.

No Money, Mo Problems

3. Birthday presents? No. Birthday tax? Yes! I never agreed to stop getting regular birthday presents once I turned 18; they just magically trickled off without my permission. I miss the days when people piled up pretty boxes as a party entry fee to celebrate me. Instead, I now give a gift of $150 in car registration fees to the DMV every year. Raw deal! (But I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge all the lovely people who wished me a happy day on Tuesday, especially my friend, Jason, who gifted me Allie Brosh’s new book!)

4. Asking for money is that much harder. Admittedly, there’s an unbeatable pride in being able to support yourself financially. It’s rather addictive. But falling on hard times feels a gazillion times worse when you must scrape your pride together and ask for help, whether it be from the government, friends, or family. I hate asking anyone for money.

5. You cannot spend your entire check on Skittles. Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben famously said that with great power comes great responsibility. I call BS, Unc. I have all this responsibility and very little power. Having to concern myself with 401Ks and 529 college savings plans and estate planning means, no, Dara cannot buy a lifetime supply of Starbursts every pay period. I remember pouting at my parents for not getting me a Sega Genesis when it debuted; I swore I’d buy myself whatever I wanted when I grew up.

I am still waiting on that Sega Genesis. Sure, I don’t miss having someone else’s wallet held over me as behavior collateral, but some days, being financially independent is so for the birds.

Do you ever feel like being financially independent is overrated? What are your gripes?

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24 thoughts on “5 Reasons Financial Independence is Overrated

  1. When I was a kid I and my dad was thinking about something, he always used to put his hands in his pockets and turn over the change. I thought there were untold riches in there. There was certainly always enough to buy me a lemon sherbert, and frankly I wouldn’t have been surprised if he’d pulled out enough pennies to buy a coach and four. But now I’m a parent, and I know the truth. When I put my hands in my pockets, and sift through the pennies, I know for a fact they only add up to 63p.

    1. That was a great story! lol. I remember my parents saying that Barbie dolls were expensive and that’s why I could only get one every birthday or Christmas. I know now that those things cost $19.00, so they weren’t exactly lying. Money seems much more expensive these days.

  2. Haha I enjoyed reading this. I was nodding my head so vigorously in agreement I might have strained a muscle or two.

    I just hate when the debit orders go off on the first day of every month. I usually switch off my phone so I don’t get irritated by the notifications.I don’t find it fun to have to watch my salary get depleted before I have even gotten a chance to contemplate buying anything fun.

  3. Could not be truer! This reminded me of the on-going monologue in my head about how overrated home ownership is, especially now with property tax due in December.

    1. Taxes ruin just about everything about life, no exceptions. My coworkers got free Kindles and gift cards for doing extra work, only to find out the company did not properly award them tax-wise; they were getting hefty taxes pulled out their paychecks months later. WOMP.

  4. I woke up at 2 am this morning, just to see my check in my account. Why? Because by the end of the day, it will lose a digit after bills. Life….

  5. Girl….I don’t even want to talk about it. I’ve tried to coach myself to smile and give thanks after every bill I pay (instead of crying) because AT LEAST the money is there to pay it, but yeah…shit is real.

    …On the bright side: a quick Google search has revealed that a Sega Genesis is available on Ebay for as little as 5 dollars!

    You’re welcome. 🙂

    1. bwhaahahah! I’ll go ahead and confess that I am AWFUL at video games! I loved my Nintendos, but I have bad hand-eye coordination. I may get it for the hubby so he can beat me at Sonic, tho 🙂

  6. Ahhhhhh the joys of adulthood. Number 4 is what I’m living. Remember telling your parents you couldn’t wait to be an adult so you could do what you wanted? Ohhhh I take it back. Adulthood is very overrated. Yea being able to support yourself fills you with great pride. However, it is hard to swallow that same pride when hard times come. If we knew then what we know now. *sigh*

  7. I wish I could go back in time and slap my younger self for wanting to hurry up and move out of my parents house. I quickly learned the value of money when I shared an apartment with three other girls in grad school and that ish was not sweet. And have you noticed that everyone needs money? The only time I hear from some relatives is when they need money. I’m sorry do I have a money tree in my apartment? SMH.

  8. Every pay week that comes by my excitement about my great pay quickly fades as I realize what is going to be left after paying the bills or worse, the rent at the beginning of the month 😥

  9. This is TRUTH! I agree with everything you stated!

    When we’re young our silly selves long for something that we really don’t want. Our entire outlook on life and finances seems to change in an instance. I remember the first time I got out there on my own. It was a REALITY CHECK that I’ve never forgotten. Having your own apartment and car seems like the business…until you start realizing you have to pay for rent, utilities, cable, internet, phone service (if you have an alarm in your place), food, etc EVERY MONTH! Not to mention the maintenance costs that come along with with a car.

    Trust me, that was one lesson I’ve never forgotten. Great, honest piece!

    1. You’re telling me! And then when the car breaks down?! LAWD! That’s my current struggle. Trying to save a dying car until I can afford to re-up on a newer one. Sigh.

      1. I know your pain! My jeep conked out on me right before the summer. I thank God for always making a way. Transportation is a must! You know?

        I pray your car will continue running and that God will bless you with something even greater when the time is right. Start claiming it now!

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