Teenagers are often not given a say in their household finances, even if they are observant about them. Most often, parents control every aspect of the household and their spending.
But the parents aren’t always the best people for the job.
Redditor richorbrokeparents was caught in the middle of observing her parents’ strange habits when it came to spending money. She saw her parents take advantage of low-income programs more than once, and began to wonder how her parents were really spending their money.
After asking her parents what their situation was, she was harshly reprimanded. Wondering if she’d done something wrong, she went to the popular subReddit “Am I The A**hole?” or “AITA” for objective feedback from strangers.
“AITA for asking my parents if we’re rich and like to complain or broke with horrible spending habits?”
Our OP set up the situation by showing the dissonance between her parents’ spending and what they say.
“My (f[emale]16) parents are always complaining about how gas is so expensive and that we need to drive the electric car to save money but we also have 3 cars and a nice house in a good neighborhood.”
“And my parents put me and my sister on the free lunch program and my mom yelled at my sister’s counselor because ‘we’re low income and we need these scholarships to pay for college.'”
“But we’re about to leave on our 6th vacation since March 2020 and are planning vacations number 7 and 8 while complaining that we can’t go anywhere due to covid.”
“My wardrobe is also pretty split. I have way too many nice dresses and designer bags but half my every day clothes are from either Ross or the clearance section because that’s all we can afford.”
In addition to vacations, there’s also a new pet.
“They also decided we should get a dog and so far this dog has 2 beds, 2 drawers of toys and a drawer dedicated specifically to his treats.”
“We also spend $60 a month on his nails being cut, ears getting cleaned, and teeth being brushed because they don’t want us to deal with it.”
“But they also complain about not being able to afford to fix the cracks in the walls all over the house.”
And OP is sensing something is not quite right regarding her parents’ spending.
“They want to upgrade our phones (we all have IPhone 11’s) but my mom’s laptop barely works and I’m using the one my school gave me because ‘that’s all they can afford’.”
“I know I’m young and don’t know that much about finances and that kind of stuff but something doesn’t add up.”
“I asked my parents if we’re rich and just like to complain or broke with really bad spending habits and now they’re really mad at me for being rude so I wanted to see if I was the a**hole.”
Anonymous strangers weighed in by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
- NAH – No A**holes Here
Redditors gave OP kudos for knowing something is strange with the money situation.
“NTA. You’re just very observant and there’s nothing wrong with asking unless you were rude or sarcastic about it. Kids ask questions like that all the time!”
“All they had to say is it’s none of your business and then you let it go. People have different priorities, depending on what’s most important to them.”
“This sounds like a classic case of misplaced (and sometimes fraudulent, taking lunch money from those who are in more need and the same for scholarships) priorities that you can’t change for your parents.”-LoveBeach8
“Yeah I’m leaning in NTA because you’re right your parents words and their lifestyle are contradictory. Maybe look at what their jobs are?”
“What your parents work in could help you guess if you’re low or high income for example jobs like doctors or lawyers could be higher income than teachers or policemen.”-Apgamerwolf
“I did taxes for low- and middle-income families for seven years. These were people that were either living paycheck to paycheck or were out and out on the dole.”
“They had better cellphones than I ever did, and that always confused the hell out of me because it seemed like their priorities were a** backwards, putting the newest iPhone ahead of, say, groceries or rent.”
“It wasn’t my place to bring it up, but believe you me I noticed it. Good on you for noticing it too. My inclination is to tell you you got your answer in their response.”
“What you’re going to do with that information, though, is up to you. NTA, but you need to tread carefully for a while. No good can come from pressing this issue any time soon.”-Viva_La_Capitana
“NTA: something is off. To get free school lunch in the US in the last year, a family of 4 had to have an income lower than $34,060 a year before deductions.”
“I’m not sure where you live or how many in your family, but it sounds like they are doing something shady to meet the eligibility requirements, which is illegal.”-valathel
And Redditors are telling OP that while she’s not at fault, there’s probably nothing she can do.
“It’s really stressful to be a kid (and 16 is still a kid in this case because no control over home/finances without parental consent) and be told that they can’t afford FOOD (hence needing free lunch).”
“Then seeing new phones, multiple cars, trips, etc… It’s fair to think that they probably don’t have much money but have really, really bad habits.”
“Which, whatever, their problem not mine, but when it affects the health of their children? By causing stress about where food and clothes will come from?”
“That’s being a sh*tty parent and definitely needs to be called out.”
“Op’s NTA here. Parents can either be more transparent about finances or start spending smarter so their children aren’t stressed about it.”-hereiamnowwhat
“NTA. I’m guessing your parents are impulsive spenders and bad budgeters . It seems like they’re spending what they earn and not saving for essentials like house repair.”
“The lack of consistency in how they spend, when, and how much, backs that up.”
“You’ve got my sympathy. My parents, though not to the extent of utilizing the free lunch program, were similar.”
“Like a nice house in very nice neighborhood with a basement that periodically flooded which they couldn’t afford to fix.”
“Arguing over the Nordstrom bill instead of shopping somewhere less expensive and with more deferred gratification. It’s hard to live with that kind of stress.”
“IMO it makes enjoying nice things difficult when that’s always in the background.”
“In their case my dads business became very successful in later years and that kind of money stress went away.”
“However, of their kids, half are cautious budgeters in response to our upbringing and half repeated my parent’s earlier example. I’m one of the budgeters.”
“I don’t think challenging your parents is going to lead anywhere good. You’re still NTA but maybe figuring out how you don’t want to deal with life is the best you can get from this situation.”-Pistalrose
“NTA they sound totally “rich and just like to complain or broke with really bad spending habits” im disgusted they own 3 cars, own any designer bags, take any vacations and yet have you on free lunch.”-Otherwise-Table1935
“NTA. Something indeed doesn’t add up from what you describe.”
“But given the situation this probably is a touchy or difficult subject for your parents, and they might have just gotten defensive about it, because you, their teenage child, recognises there’s some sort of problem when it comes to how money is handled in your family.”
“This does not excuse their reaction and them being mad at you, though.”-Icy_Pumpkin_7142
And to have some compassion for her parents’ poor habits.
“NAH. I mean you could have worded it better but I don’t think you’re an ah for it. You are asking a lot of really good questions.”
“Questions that based on your parents response you should internalize and observe from now on. But I would guess that on paper your parents are poor.”
“Small businesses get to write off a lot. So that on paper you qualify for free lunch. The cars may be leased/purchased through the business also a write off.”
“They also probably received a bunch of small business pandemic dollars. And the biggie living off of credit cards.”-lovebeingana**hole
“NTA But in The great wide world, your parents spending habits aren’t that weird.”
“Lots of fairly well-off people are cheap in ‘spots’ and decide, fairly erratically, how to spend money.”
“Lots of people love a deal (Ross) and lots really love to get something for nothing (free lunch). Your parents’ financial habits are confusing but not unusual.”-pineboxwaiting
“NTA, but it sounds like your parents might be hiding something that’s embarrassing for them.”
“Growing up, I thought it was normal to have new living room furniture every year. But if I asked my mother for namebrand sneakers like the cool kids were wearing, she’d say ‘We can’t afford it’ and take me to Payless.”
“She was always dressed stylishly, while my sister and I wore K-Mart clothes.”
“Well, in the circa 1986, some sh*t must have hit the fan because my mother got a night job delivering pizzas in addition to her social work job.”
“My father had a good white-collar job and I’m sure he was embarrassed by my mother’s side hustle, but they needed that extra money.”
“As a kid, it was hella confusing. The truth is that my parents were neither rich or poor. Just really bad with money.”
“And they are still bad with money. It’s an embarrassing topic for them, so I try not to bring it up.”-autotelica
“NTA. Sounds like your parents are property rich but cash poor.”
“They’re probably spending every cent on housing and cars and luxuries they can’t actually afford because they enjoy the lifestyle, but are saving next to nothing for their retirement or their children’s college educations.”
“I think you should probably expect to get zero help with school, even if your parents say they’ve been putting money away for you.”-Katt_ler
OP might be onto something, but in truth, there’s not a whole lot she can really do about it.
Her parents will have to answer for their bad habits in due time.