DEAR HARRIETTE: I have lived with my parents while pursuing my college education. Now that I am about to graduate in May, I want to become independent as soon as possible. I have worked and paid for my share of the house during this time. My parents don’t know how to manage money and would certainly come knocking if they saw my meager savings account. How much should I have saved up to move out on my own? I have never lived alone before. -- Spread My Wings, Raleigh, North Carolina
DEAR SPREAD MY WINGS: You can keep your savings information to yourself. That is your business. It is good that you contribute to your family household, as you should, until you move out. Financial experts recommend that people have at least six months’ salary saved so that they are prepared for job loss for any reason. You haven’t started your career yet, so you will have to use different criteria. Look for an apartment in the area where you want to live. How much is the rent? Electricity? Your cellphone? Wardrobe needs? Food? Itemize whatever you imagine you have to spend monthly in order to live independently. If possible, save up six months’ worth of that before you leave home. Obviously, you want to have a job, too. When you do leave, thank your parents for their generosity and loving support. If you ever are able to help them financially, by all means do so. Remember how much they have done for you, and be generous.
DEAR HARRIETTE: This inauguration had my students very upset. I teach in an area with many immigrants, due to the abundance of dairy farms. While I keep my political views outside of the classroom, I want to somehow comfort them about the next four years. How can I boost morale during this divisive time? I hate seeing so many children influenced by their parents' political views. -- Sad Class, Dallas
DEAR SAD CLASS: Your students may be facing more than just their parents’ political views. If they are Dreamers -- children of people who came to this company illegally who are themselves not American -- they run the risk of being deported, should the clemency that was being developed to protect Dreamers be eradicated. This is a tricky issue that is extremely volatile on all sides. Your students should be worried, even though their angst surely doesn’t help you to train their minds and inspire them to dream about their futures.
What can you do? Tell them that you will do whatever you can to build their minds so that they are prepared to face the world with knowledge and confidence. You can also pledge to pay attention to what happens with government rulings so that their parents are informed. What you cannot do is make any promises about what the future holds for them. This is true for all of your students. All you can do is prepare them the best you can in the present moment.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to email@example.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)