In terms of the law, adulthood starts on the day you reach your 18th birthday, but is that really what makes someone an adult?
In recent surveys around 75% of US residents aged 18-34 believe that adulthood only really starts when you are financially independent. The years after 18 leading up to that point are seen as a transitional period during which attempts are made to establish that level of financial security.
However, alongside this statistic, another one paints a slightly different picture with 70% of those in the same age group receiving financial assistance from a parent within the last 12 months.
With that in mind, how do you define financial independence? Put simply it would be the ability to manage your daily needs without seeking monetary assistance from your family or social peers. Being able to afford treats would be in there too as well as being able to save in order to meet other financial goals like housing, for example.
However, of the 70% of those saying they had received support the reason they ended up seeking help was specifically to cover essential living expenses like rent, food and school expenses. A fair proportion – 41% – had assistance from their parents in order to provide a down payment on a house.
The main secret of achieving financial independence is to always make sure your income exceeds your expenditure but in reality, life is not that simple. There are a number of influencing factors that can prevent this – from low wages, to credit card bills to unforeseen medical bills.
Although small changes in habits can help, it is unlikely that these alone can resolve an issue that has led to a failure to manage the rent or be unable to pay a major bill.
If financial independence is not the main criteria for adulthood what is?
Other Definitions for Adulthood
There were a number of people who offered other definitions including buying a house, leaving home, graduating from college, having a child or getting married. However the majority, 75%, still said that being in full-time employment is a key factor because it implies a level of financial independence.
The results of the survey indicate that financial support into adulthood has become the norm, yet this can lead people to believe they are underachieving in relationship to their peers. A possible solution to this could be parental refusal to give financial help but most parents, around 83%, do so in order to help their children and they are happy to do so.
It seems that this is likely to be reciprocated with 89% of adults saying they would be happy to return the favor if necessary.
It seems that it is the factors that lead to financial dependence in early adulthood – tuition fees, poor wages, increased costs – need to be addressed. Until these are resolved those who do go to their parents for financial help are certainly not in the minority.