The ungrateful child is practically a universal theme of parenthood; one that involves a lot of frustration and a fair amount of yelling. But if parents really want their kids to understand what it takes to support a family, maybe they should send them a bill.
That’s what one mom did, and it seems to have worked out pretty well. Julie, a single mom of two in Toronto, drew up an invoice addressed to “Unappreciative Son” for $39,254.17, following an argument with her son, 23-year-old Kevin. It included a $1,000 charge for “Being an a**hole and not appreciative of your mother’s support financially or otherwise.” Kevin took a picture of the invoice and posted it to Reddit, where it quickly attracted hundreds of comments. (By the way, Kevin and Julie aren’t their real names. We changed them at their request.)
“I’m not sure if I’m proud of the fact that I billed him for being an a**hole,” Julie said when I spoke to them a few days after the argument. Kevin interrupted: “Well, I was being an a**hole.”
Kevin has lived with Julie rent-free for a little more than a year while he and his girlfriend (who also lives at the house) save up to buy a place of their own. The invoice spawned from an argument about Kevin helping his mom apply for a health benefit for his 22-year-old brother, who also lives at home. You apply for the benefit as a household, so Julie needed him to provide his social insurance number (like a Social Security number) to a company over the phone, but Kevin didn’t want to be a part of it.
“I was refusing to cooperate, and my mom was just looking out for my brother, and I was being a little selfish,” Kevin said. (Both sides acknowledge that Kevin didn’t exactly understand what was being asked of him in the moment, as well.) Frustrated that Kevin wouldn’t contribute to something the family needed, Julie decided to show him exactly how much he benefited from living with her.
The invoice did the trick. Kevin said he had no idea how much everyday bills cost. His girlfriend pays $300 rent to live with the family, and the two of them buy their own groceries, make car payments and have auto insurance bills, but everything else? Kevin was surprised to see how it all added up.
“I want to move out soon, but realistically it’s going to be difficult,” Kevin said. He’s never lived on his own before but has been saving up. “She’s not going to make me pay, but the invoice made me realize we’re going to be set back awhile.”
A Needed Wake-Up Call
Julie never expected him to pay the nearly $40,000 she billed him (more than half of that was for five years of tuition payments, but the rest of the charges are from the 13 months he’s lived with her). Kevin posted it in the “funny” subreddit, but he understood what Julie was going for, and it wasn’t humor.
“I don’t think the kids realize what the bills are,” Julie said. “I just think he needs to appreciate the bills that I pay.”
Kevin said he does now. After reviewing the invoice, he went up to his mom and told her it was very effective and he understood her perspective.
“I expected him to say something sarcastic,” Julie said. If anything, Kevin’s response has been the opposite.
“It’s going to take a year or two to save up (to move out),” Kevin said. Before this whole thing, he thought he had a shorter timeline ahead of him. “It’s just kind of a wake-up call for me to get with the program with the whole life thing.”
Moving out of mom and dad’s house doesn’t just require cash to cover the living expenses. It also may require a good credit score, as apartment rentals have become more competitive with landlords pulling potential tenants’ credit reports and you need a decent credit score to qualify for a mortgage as well. You can check two of your credit scores for free every month on Credit.com and you can get copies of your credit reports for free once a year at AnnualCreditReport.com.
More on Mortgages & Homebuying:
- Why You Should Check Your Credit Before Buying a Home
- How to Find & Choose a Mortgage Lender
- How to Refinance Your Home Loan With Bad Credit