Our Financial Un-independence

As I wrote my first few posts on this blog, I spent a lot of time thinking about what aspects of my life I should share with you all. I’m not at all interested in publishing lies about myself, because the whole point of the blog is to hold me accountable for my financial decisions and to make a time capsule of how my life looks at each step along this winding road to financial independence.

At the same time, I’m hesitant to publish the whole truth.

In the personal finance/financial independence world, it’s rare for people (with some notable exceptions*) to talk about the boosts they’ve gotten in life from those around them.

I totally understand why. It’s really compelling to read a story about a child raised in a working class family, who picked himself up by his bootstraps, worked extremely hard, and made something of himself.

It’s not as interesting to read about someone who had tons of help getting where they are today.

And I’ve had a lot of boosts in my short life.

I’m worried that you’ll discredit me as a fraud.

I feel guilty that I didn’t earn my net worth and that I don’t deserve the ceaseless good fortune coming my way.

But, what the heck? I’m here to put myself out there, so here I am—boosts and all!

I have had so many blessings in my life that I need to acknowledge, and what better time than on Thanksgiving Day?

The Confession

Both Mr. Chedda and I have wealthy parents.

Not exactly richie rich, but pretty close. All four of our parents have steady government jobs that make over $100k a year. Our parents are also relatively frugal, so they’ve been piling up those six figure salaries for years and years now in bank accounts.

Film poster for Richie Rich - Copyright 1994, © Warner Bros.
Film poster for Richie Rich – Copyright 1994, © Warner Bros.

That’s not the end of the confession either–they also use that money to support us financially in many ways. Here are the biggies:

  • Mr. Chedda’s parents have gifted him $14,000 every single year for the past six years.
  • Our parents completely paid for our college education (minus scholarships and a $5,000 loan my parents asked me to take out so I had a little skin in the game)
  • Mr. Chedda’s parents gave him their old car while he was in college, and we used it up until it crapped out and we bought a new car last weekend.
  • Our parents completely paid for our five-digit-cost wedding.

The Other Goodies

And there are a lot of more intangible riches they’ve given us as well. Off the top of my head:

  • Our parents are frugal and have always expected that we will make good use of what they give us. Mr. Chedda’s parents tell us every year that they intend for that $14,000 they gift us each year to be used to fund his 401(k).
  • They brought us up in happy, warm, healthy, loving homes. They fed us well, wiped our little tushies, and are always looking out for our best interests. We love them so much!
  • They shared their knowledge and love of learning with us. Every time I wanted M&Ms for dessert, I remember being asked math questions involving them before being allowed to devour at will.
  • They have always given us a sense of security. I have never once thought that I would go hungry. I have never been in danger of not knowing how I would survive until my next paycheck. They’ve provided us a backstop in case of hardship, which we luckily have never had to fall back on.
  • So many meals! Tomorrow we’re going over to Mr. Chedda’s parents’ house for a delicious home-cooked turkey dinner and all we have to pay as an entrance fee is one pecan pie!

 

The pecan pie we baked to bring to tomorrow's feast
The pecan pie we baked to bring to tomorrow’s feast

The Takeaway

At the end of the day, when I’m lying in bed, I try to practice a few moments of thoughtfulness. Sometimes I just end up playing Candy Crush instead, but I always try to do a bit of reflection on how I spent that day of my life.

Last night, I started thinking about the Thanksgiving holiday. I thought about the enormous bulk of my life that has been made better by people other than myself and I was just floored with a sense of gratitude.

I’m so indebted in so many ways.

I am a product of a privileged family, of a privileged race, in a privileged country.

I’m in love with a wonderful man who loves me back, with whom I am happy doing absolutely anything or absolutely nothing.

I have the education and the position to allow me to share my fortune and grow it, so that my children and those around me will hopefully end up better off because of what I do with my days.

I lied

I guess in the end, my real confession is that I’m not ashamed of my luck in life.

I have been luckier than most, but I really try to do my best with the fortunate situation I’ve been put in.

I use my education to work at a well paying job that serves the public interest.

Mr. Chedda and I save more than half of our income, to be used for our future financial security and to help our children and people in our communities.

And we visit our parents at least twice a month! Tomorrow, on Thanksgiving, as they ply us full of stuffing and champagne, I’m going to make a point of sincerely thanking them for all they’ve given us.

I’m also going to make a pledge to you right now that I won’t waste the bountiful opportunity I have. I won’t squander away my money or talents. I will honestly try to make the world a better place than I found it. Seriously, you can hold me to it.

*FrugalwoodsOur Next Life, and Root of Good each wrote touching posts on being grateful for the extra privileges they’ve had in life.

 

That, my friends, is some cheesy stuff, but it’s from the heart. Truly, thank you for letting me share this with you. What are you thinking about this Thanksgiving?

6 thoughts on “Our Financial Un-independence”

  1. In 2016, an individual can leave $5.45 million to heirs and pay no federal estate or gift tax. A married couple will be able to shield $10.9 million from federal estate and gift taxes.

    Unless your parents and parents-in-law have larger than a $10.9 million estate, why would they be concerned about gift taxes?

    1. Hi Joe, thanks for stopping by!

      You’re right, and my in-laws don’t have that big of an estate. They aren’t worried about actually being charged a gift tax, they just don’t want to complicate their taxes by having to file their gift with the IRS. I think that they heard that they’re allowed to gift $14,000 without doing anything special and they latched onto that number.

      I took the sentence about gift tax out of my post because it did sound like I was saying they would actually have to pay the tax on their estate.

    1. Thanks Mr. and Mrs. CF! I completely agree that what you do with the set of circumstances you’re dealt matters most, but I’m also very grateful for where I came from.

  2. I also am very lucky to have been given a lot early in life and like you, not just monetarily. My mom was not a wealthy woman, but she passed away when I was 25 and left me everything. While it was never enough for her to retire on, it was/is an amazing sum for someone much younger. I’ve tried to do the best I can to preserve my inheritance because my mom worked too hard for so long for me to just blow it on something shiny.

    I think you should only feel bad about your luck/privilege if you abuse it. Mr. Cheddar’s parents wouldn’t gift him that money every year if they thought he was going to use it for something they never intended. Your parents probably wouldn’t have invested in your college education if you didn’t take it seriously. For me, the only judgement I have is for people who squander their good fortune or abuse other’s good intentions.

    1. Wow, I’m sorry you lost your mom so young! But it does sound like you have respected what she would have wanted you to do with the inheritance.

      Mr. Chedda’s parents have told us that they would stop giving him that money if he didn’t put it into his 401(k). I don’t generally think giving money with strings attached is a great idea, but we wouldn’ve saved it instead of spending it even if they hadn’t asked us to 🙂

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