Family and money may not mix, but for recent college grads, they often have to. It may seem counter-intuitive to ask for extra cash or a loan after finishing school, but under certain circumstances, a little financial assistance can lead to exponential returns. After college, you may have to buy a car for your commute, move to an expensive city, or put down a security deposit on an apartment. You need money to accomplish these things—and if you haven’t started a job, you may not have the cash. If financial support from your parents makes it possible for you to get a dream job, or at least a decent paycheck, asking for help might be a good idea.
Ask yourself this: what would happen if you decide not to ask for money? If it means turning down a job or being unable to sign for an apartment in a new city, you might end up leaning on your family anyways. You can offer to repay your parents (with interest!) if you feel more comfortable with this arrangement.
Some parents are unable to pay for any of your expenses post college. This is perfectly reasonable—you’re an adult! If this is the case, you might be able to work a part-time job before or after graduating. You could find an extra roommate or use public transportation instead of buying a car. Family members may allow you to move in with them until you’ve saved enough to get your own place.
If your parents have the means to help you out financially and you think they might be open to it, there are strategies that will help everybody feel good about post-college financial assistance. If your parents are on the fence, the pointers below may help you come to a fair agreement.
1. Be very clear about if you want a loan or a gift.
If it’s a loan, agree to a repayment plan before finalizing any agreements. This will give your parents and you peace of mind.
2. Explain how you’ll use the money.
Don’t ask for an amount without a plan for how you’ll spend it. Demonstrate responsibility by drawing up a budget and highlighting where you need financial assistance. Make a timeline to emphasize that you don’t want to lean on them forever.
3. Determine exactly how much money you need.
Look online for actual apartment listings—you can even contact landlords and brokers to ask about fees. Then, write this up or make a detailed spreadsheet, and cite any sources you used.
4. Think about the cash value of your ask.
For example, if you’re deciding between asking for new furniture vs. help repaying your student loans for a year, calculate the overall cost of each, and ask for help with the larger of the two expenses.
5. Focus on the long-term pay-off.
Prioritize whatever will directly help you earn a living. You might need a professional wardrobe before you start earning a paycheck. Then, use that paycheck wisely to cover other expenses and bills.
6. Appeal to their priorities.
If they’re concerned about your safety in a new city, point out the safe neighborhoods where you hope they’ll pay part of your rent. If they love traveling, they might be willing to buy plane tickets for your post-graduation trip.
7. Prepare to negotiate.
Come up with back-up options of cheaper—or just different—ways they can help. Rather than shelling out for new furniture, they might agree to outfit your apartment with used pieces from their house or Craigslist. You’ll end up with a furnished apartment either way, and you can upgrade once you’re on your feet financially.
8. Involve them in decisions.
They may want to be involved in specific decisions, like the brand of car you buy. You need transportation; you don’t need a Lexus. While this may irritate you, keep in mind that you couldn’t afford a car on your own. If they’re paying for it, they deserve to have a say.
9. Approach this from a position of gratitude.
Find a meaningful way to thank your parents—invite them over for dinner or send pictures of your new apartment. If they decide not to assist you financially, thank them anyway for discussing it with you.
If your parents choose to support you, don’t abuse their generosity by using their grocery money for a trip to the beach. After you’ve discussed the details of what and how much you need, asking for more support is a clear sign that you’ve made irresponsible choices.
* If you do confront a serious, unexpected hardship that you can’t afford, like a medical emergency or car crash, try approaching your parents with the same strategies above. As you start earning more you can prioritize building up an emergency fund. This way, you’ll be able to deal with future crises without burdening your parents.
Article contributed by Katie Simon
Katie Simon helps recent grads and young professionals become financially confident and accomplish big financial goals over at More Money For Me. She lives in Brooklyn, NY with her adorable rescue dog, Missy.
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