The officially unofficial bling’d-out blog of the young minds behind Marketplace Money (from APM).
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Spoiled Brat Confessions: Mommy & Money (Vol. 1)

"Are you spoiled?"

It almost never fails.  When I tell people I’m an only child, that question hurls from people’s lips faster than a Beyonce booty bounce.  And I answer honestly, without shame: yes, I am.

My mom once told me that she never believed there was anything wrong with spoiling a child — especially a Black child because they are so often made to go it alone early in life.  “What’s wrong with giving one a hand,” she said. “Especially if that one belongs to you?”

So, I never wanted for much growing up. When my mother told me “no” to one of my whiny requests, her decision was usually based on principle rather than our family’s personal finance situation.  Still, I managed to emerge from childhood as a financially independent adult who earned her own money, saved for the things she wanted and never, ever asked her mom for money.

Not that Mommy didn’t continue to provide for me endlessly.  She took on loans for my college education.  She let me live with her for years after school when I was gainfully unemployed.  She bought me stocks.  She covered my car payments and auto insurance. The list goes on.  But I could proudly say that I never asked her for money.  I’m not sure what I was so proud of.  I guess it just never felt like mooching because helping me get ahead financially was what made her happy.  And she knew she didn’t raise a slouch.  I have always worked hard for my own cash.  And used that money to fund trips, clothes, happy hours, music…my wants, not my needs.

Even when I did move out on my own and I took over paying for both wants and needs, Mommy helped me out.  She deposited money (from a family rental property) in my account frequently and on many occasions she helped me replenish my savings account — the one she opened for me when I was a child that now boasts, well, an impressive amount for a starter nest egg.

Still, I never asked her for anything.  Until a couple of months ago.  Like Mom, I am pretty frugal about cash.  When I travel, I always look for the best deals and don’t tell her but I have stayed in some pretty seedy places just to save a buck.  Smart? No. Cheap? So! But my spending caught up with me one fine day in March after back-to-back weekend trips from LA to the East Coast.  I had just moved to Cali and I was missing my friends and family (one of the trips was to visit Mom herself).  It looked like I had enough money to cover everything, even though I clearly hadn’t gotten a good grasp on how costly California living was going to be yet, the payroll tax cut disappeared and chopped my income significantly, and my student loan repayment plan suddenly increased my required monthly minimum.

Post-trip, the bills rolled in and…boom!  I was broke.  Like for real broke.  The checking account was a day away from dipping into the red.  I panicked.  I couldn’t even access the childhood savings account because it was located in another state and I’d opened it so long ago that I didn’t have the information to do an electronic transfer handy.  Usually, it’s money that I’m happy I can’t easily put my hands on, except that I was desperate.  So, I made the call I thought I would never have to make.  I called my mom and asked her for money.

The cash was in my account the next day.  Mom was, of course, a little concerned since this was something that has never happened before, but I could tell she was happy to be of service.  I explained my budgeting mistakes and thanked her profusely for the deposit.  But I was pretty embarrassed.  I couldn’t believe I had to ask her for money after all these years.  And I couldn’t believe she didn’t even give me too hard a time about it.

The whole scenario sickened me.  But it motivated me as well.  I will never ask Mommy for money again.  No way.  And even though I am stretched pretty thin on the salary I make and with the bills I’ve acquired, I am too old to be reliant on my wonderful, but aging mother who has spent her whole life taking care of me and who deserves to be spending money on herself after all these years.

I know she wouldn’t agree.  I am hers to spoil until the end of time.  And I thank her not just for the love and the loans and the little financial pick-me-ups along the way.  I thank her for raising me to be the type of woman that believes the Mommy Bank is for emergencies only.  Even if it is always open.


Little known fact: The first incarnation of this blog was called “Young Money.” But yeah, the idea of Lil’ Wayne and his hip-hop collaborative  suing us once we blew up to their level of celebrity status had us shook so… we changed to “Quarter Life.” Which we like very much, thank you.

But personal finance can be Y.O.L.O, too! Just in a different way. While Weezy and company are all carpe diem with their cash, we’re somewhat more thoughtful about how to make the one life we all get more comfortable along the way.

Anyway, with all due respect to the Young Money crew, enjoy this Twitter search feed featuring one of their catchiest phrases about money.

What The Stuck?

Mid-life crises are so easy to resolve.

Just grab yourself a fast car, a cute piece of arm candy, some hair dye and you’re off and running to face the rest of your troubled days until retirement.

Quarter-life crises?

Those are a little murkier.  First of all, what the hell are 20- and 30-somethings trying to resolve? Even though regular naps have become part of our routines, we still possess the precious youth that  mid-lifers crave.  And just what are we supposed to buy to make us feel better about our the-world-is-allegedly-our-oyster states of being? We don’t need more stuff to cram into our rent-is-too-damn-high urban apartments or our underwater townhomes.

From formal and casual conversations with members of Generations X, Y, O, Millennial, Whatevs – it seems what would really make us happy is the financial freedom to stop straddling all these blurry lines between childhood and adulthood.  We feel stuck in almost every aspect of our lives:

Work: between low-paying entry-level position — and — (still low-paying) mid-career doldrums

Love: should I get the 1-month or 3-month subscription? — and — will anyone ever marry me when I have such terrible credit?

Money: between I’ll never pay off my damn student debt — and — WTF is a retirement fund exactly?

That last one – Money – is where a lot of us find ourselves floundering and, unfortunately, what a lot of our other problems come down to.  And it’s the thing we, the writers of this blog, think about the most.  

See, we’re the producers of a weekly radio show called “Marketplace Money.” It’s all about saving, spending, investing, debt, retail, retirement, budgeting, behavioral economics and whatever else pops into your head when you think about the Almighty Dollar and how it rules everything around us.

Even though our jobs give us access to the best financial advice out there, we screw up as much as anyone when it comes to money.  But come on, give us a break.  Look how often economists get it wrong! Still, we recognize it’s fun to mock the mistakes of  others so we’re more than happy to have you laugh at us as we feel our way through the frightening challenge of fiscal responsibility.  But cheer us on, too, because if you haven’t experienced this confusing stage of life yet, you will soon.  And trust us when we say those years must be wearing Skele-Toes because they really catch up with you quickly!

Our collective curiosity about how wealth is perceived and achieved and how quarter-lifers fit into this fascinating concept of the American economy is what drives our vision for this blog.  And while we certainly take the time to enjoy the privileges of youth (what little we have left), we’re prepping to face the pressures that go along with aging out of asking our parents for financial assistance, too.

Armed with all this anxiety and a blog, how can we lose?