The so-called “Boomerang Child”

Oooooo-kay. It has been some time since I posted a budget. There was some laziness at the beginning of winter, followed by the unexpected flooding of my apartment, and me moving out of my apartment and moving in with my parents. The winter was…eventful, but I am looking forward to spring. Because my finances have finally settled since the move and I generally have a good idea of what my monthly expenditures will be, while living with my parents, I decided I would post a budget forecast for April (and I will). However, before I could do that, I figured I finally needed to address what it means to live at home, for me. I need to address it because I find that when I don’t work through how I feel about something that is tied to my finances, I often make a rash decision that is usually not in my long term best interest.

So…I hate the idea of being a boomerang child. I was entirely unaware of this word or that it might be applied to me, as a result of my present living arrangement, until Dude Avery began heckling me about it (he really is the worst). The barest amount of research found that the most common definition is: boomerang child (n) – an adult child returning home to live with their parents for economic reasons after a period of independent living. I think the reason this gets under my skin so much is because it implies a level of financial irresponsibility or parental overindulgence that has often been used to talk about millennials. To me. (I recognize that it may often result from an instance of genuine need or convenience of care for others).

As an incredibly independent person, I think I bristle at the implication that I am currently staying with my parents because I have not been financially responsible or do not have the means to live independently. This is simply not the case. I was a senior in college in 2008 when the recession hit. I watched many folks of my generation not get jobs after college or move back home with their folks (this is probably definitely what I should have done). But I got a job, lived frugally, and continued living on my own after college. AND took no meaningful steps to pay back my student loans for almost a decade. But that’s old news.

Further, while I still have significant student loan debt, I am fairly frugal, and on the advice of the Pennyfolk, have an emergency fund of $5000.00 set aside to address instances like this. The point being, even if I have not made the best financial choices in the past, for at least some time now, I have been a financially responsible person and my financial situation isn’t precarious enough to necessitate that I live at home. (I recognize there are some that might disagree).

Stepping off my soapbox, I also recognize that while this definition may not have been initially applicable to my reason for staying with my parents, it certainly would become applicable if I decide to remain living with my parents once the pandemic lifts…which is something I am considering. While my April budget will go into greater detail, while staying with my parents, I am able to put an extra $1,700.00 towards my student loans each month. This means that even without an extra job or consulting work, I could easily have both PSL3 and PSL4 paid off this year while cashflowing the application process to medical school.

What to do? My parents have been incredibly amazing and I have far more independence and alone time than I could ever have imagined. Overall, I am very comfortable and the anxiety I had about moving in with them has entirely dissipated. At the moment, staying through December, which would allow me to payoff both loans and likely know where I stand in the medical school admissions process, is very tempting. If I stayed and were accepted to medical school, then it is likely I would continue staying with them and move out the following June/July to go to school. If I were not accepted, then I could find a place on my own early in the new year. Before I make a final decision, I will have to have another talk with my parents…

I will also admit that some of this is coming up right now because of a conversation I had with Dude Avery last night. He is exceptionally annoying and has been playing both sides of this decision from the beginning. He suggested back in 2020, mid-pandemic, that instead of renewing my lease, that I move back home with my parents to pay off my student loans. At the time, the idea was appalling to me and I wouldn’t even consider it. Six months later, my apartment floods and I do just that. He then suggest that I not look for a new apartment and instead stay with my parents for as long as I need, and focus on paying off my debt. (Note: Dude Avery has made all the right financial choices in life, and is very frugal). However, last evening, Dude Avery wants to know when I am planning to move out of my parents home and back into the city. This felt like whiplash and I didn’t really know how to respond. While more context for our relationship would seem useful here, I don’t really feel like this is that post. What I will say is that Dude Avery lives in the city.

Ugh. I will make a decision about this, one way or the other, soon.

Dating while in debt, Part I.

I did not expect to have to write this post so soon. I’m just shy of a month in my new role, with my new employer, in my new city, and I didn’t really expect dating to be part of the equation just yet. Well, not exactly.

This past Sunday night, I was chatting on the phone with a friend who isn’t really a friend (you know those guys, the ones who aren’t quite comfortable with the friendzone but for whatever reason, or maybe for many reasons, you haven’t dated). We were talking about dating in my city and at some point I mentioned that I had declined a date. Despite what I felt were legitimate reasons for not going on a date with an almost adolescent (seriously, he was 25 and looked 18) my friend accused me of “avoiding” or being “hesitant” to date, despite my expressed interest in finding a partner that could lead to something long term. I don’t know if it was the nature of our relationship, how he said it, or the accuracy of it all, but it got under my skin a bit. That night, I took a decent photo of myself (I am not particularly photogenic) and signed up for an online dating site.

On Monday, encouraged by the response to my mostly blank profile, I added a couple more photos, completed the “about me,” and the “essay.” Later that evening, I got a message from someone to whom I will refer to as “Lawyerman.” Lawyerman had a really interesting profile so I responded. After exchanging several e-mails and text messages, we decided to speak on the phone. In addition to having a nice phone voice, Lawyerman is smart, funny, articulate, direct, open, and we stayed on the phone for far too long. Before the end of our conversation, he asked me out on a date for Friday evening. Despite my shock at the speed with which everything had happened, I happily agreed.

So here I am, dating again. And while there are immediate challenges to dating while paying off debt (affordable dates) there are also some long term challenges. Like, if the person you’re dating is in a better financial position than you are (perhaps as a result of being older, in a more lucrative profession, or just making smarter financial decisions), when, and under what circumstances do you disclose your more meager financial position? When you’re planning your first trip together? Cohabiting? Engagement?

I think there is a chance my friend-not-a-friend was correct but perhaps just not for the reasons he suspected. I think I attach a great deal of shame to my debt (past financial mistakes) and I think the idea of having to share that information with anyone feels like…exposure. For now, I am just going to focus on having fun on my date with Lawyerman (I suggested we go bowling) and leave the tough stuff for another day.