Is it okay to spend other people's money?
I grew up in a very privileged environment. I spent my parent's money over and over again. From birth through many years of adulthood. They wanted me to have a good education and allowed me to spend their money to pay for it, twice.
I could have paid for it myself. I made some money while I was in school. It wasn't a lot, but it was enough.
But I still spent their money.
I never really asked for many expensive things growing up.**My parents may have a different opinion on this**
The only thing my parents ever expected from me was to spend my time studying and trying to get good grades, which I did out of my own accord. I don't remember needing "prizes" to motivate me to study or go to school. Learning and doing well are good rewards.
Despite my nature to be independent and not rely on others for financial support. I still accepted it until I was 26 years old.
When I moved out of my parent's house, I gave up my subsidized rent. I gave up my free food. I didn't appreciate how good my dad's cooking was until I didn't have it anymore. Good thing my wife and I are not-too-shabby cooks.
When I moved in with my wife, we now had to cover all the expenses necessary to maintain our own home. Rent, then a mortgage. Maintenance. Gas. Electricity. Property Taxes. Internet. Food.
I was always the independent type, but I truly became independent when I moved out of my parent's house.
I stopped spending other people's money. I only spent what I earned myself.
And now when I go back to visit, I buy my own plane tickets. I try not to burden them too much when I'm back home, but I still ask my brother to come pick me up from the airport. It's more fun to be with family than to take public transit for the ride home.
My niece has taken over my old room, so I share her room when I visit. I pay for gas when I use their cars. I share in the cooking and cleaning.
Sometimes my mom will try to "reimburse" me for my gas or grocery expenses, but that doesn't seem right to me since I'm the one using them.
It's really a case by case thing. We are still family, so we don't count every penny. I want to be fair and don't want them to see my visit as a financial burden to them.
I still don't pay rent when I'm visiting for 2 weeks. Fixed costs like these I hope my family will accommodate me. But variable costs, costs that occur because I'm present, I would feel much better to pay for myself. I can't spend other people's money in that case. I don't expect my parents to pay for my tennis court rental or for when I eat out with my friends. That would be ridiculous.
This is my vacation time. I don't feel like I can fully enjoy my vacation if someone else had to make a sacrifice for my enjoyment, especially if they are doing so out of obligation. If they are happy to "sponsor" me then I will gladly accept their generosity in some instances.
That's the difference.
Spending other people's money is ok when they are willing and happy to "sponsor" you.
The moment it becomes an obligation to them is when it's no longer okay to spend other people's money.
Don't expect generosity in the past to mean generosity in the future. Every day is a different day.
Save Money Retire Early is written by Jon Lo, a barely 30 something change optimist, and personal finance guy. I believe anyone can be rich or poor, it's what you save that makes the difference.