College Connect: Talking budgets with Mom has a generation gap

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By Hannah Spaar

One of what I consider the best traits of our generation is our bold moves toward female financial independence, especially while in relationships. But this is something our parents’ generation didn’t experience, so it’s important for us to communicate the difference to them when talking about finances.

My parents dated throughout my mom’s time in college, so her expectations for what my sister and I should be paying are a little skewed. I’m single, and my sister is dating, but both of us are spending a lot more of our own money than what my mother thought we would be.

People my mom’s age aren’t familiar with the concept of the split tab, or buying your own movie ticket. Further, my mom lived with my dad for a few years in college, so even when dealing with inflation, there is a difference between paying your own rent and splitting it with another person. The type of apartment where you live with a significant other is different than many apartment complexes where you have more than one bedroom and several roommates, and since the latter are newer, they’re typically more expensive.

The fact is, we’re spending a lot more money than our mothers probably were when they were in college. That’s by no means a bad thing, because it comes with a lot of independence that women have been working toward for decades. But when it comes to discussing finances with our mothers, it can be a nightmare of a generation gap when it comes to entertainment, food and even living expenses.

It takes recognition of the differences from both ends to move past that bit of stalemate. Even what we think should be obvious about college culture needs explained sometimes; from the fact that most restaurants automatically split the tab when we’re out from friends to the fact that frat parties don’t serve snacks (yes, a friend’s mom didn’t know this).  It took my mom getting frustrated with my sister’s boyfriend for me to realize what it had been like when she was in college, and some of the things she’d been mad at me about over the years.

So, see where she’s coming from when she’s annoyed that you’re buying your own dinner even while out with your boyfriend, but don’t be afraid to correct her.  Hopefully, some recognition of the differences will help you both better understand the world you’re budgeting for.


Hannah Spaar is a senior majoring in print and digital journalism at the University of Missouri.





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