WBBM News Radio: Financially Supporting Children Into Adulthood
Ed discusses the issues that arise as parents continue to financially support their children into adulthood.
Giving a hand to your adult children might be as simple as covering their phone bill, though it might be as drastic as contributing to a down payment on a house. As children transition into adulthood, many may be hard-pressed to find a parent who loses the desire to support their kids, both emotionally and financially. This is why it can be so hard to wean your adult children off of your bank account.
If you’re helping out your kids into adulthood, you’re not alone. One study found that only 24 percent of young adults were financially independent by age 22 or younger, compared to 32 percent in 1980.1 While parental financial support is sometimes considered a hindrance to one’s ability to become fully self-sufficient, there is another grave side effect: your shrinking retirement savings.
So, how can you bring an end to financially supporting your adult children? Ease the process with the four suggestions below.
Be Transparent in Your Communication
When first letting your children know that you will no longer be paying their phone bill, helping them out with groceries, or giving them a hefty Christmas wad, be sure to explain why. Remind them that this is not about a lack of care or love for them; rather, it is for their long-term benefit—the ability to provide for themselves long after you’re gone. Additionally, let them know that it may affect your ability to retire comfortably and cover your potential health-related costs in the future. By appealing to their compassion and treating them as fellow adults, you can give your children a sense of empowerment.
Give Your Children an Adequate Timeline
If your kids are used to a monthly check, phone bill support, or even one-off amounts of money when in need, it can be a shock to immediately cut off their financial supply. Giving your children time to organize their finances and emotionally prepare to fully support themselves is one way to lead them toward successful financial independence.
Giving them a timeline also creates an objective boundary that might be hard to set otherwise. If you wait until you think your kids can handle it or until you feel “ready,” that time might never come. Choosing a date and sticking to it sets the decision in stone and makes it easier to follow through.
Provide the Tools to Succeed
Educating your adult children on best practices for managing their money can increase their confidence while giving them the means to budget, spend, and save properly. You can either give them advice on your own or point them toward a financial planner, which has various benefits. If it’s your own financial advisor, he or she can explain how your financial support can be detrimental to your retirement and well-being, which can give your kids more clarity on the situation.
Having an objective perspective can take the emotion out of the decision, making it more of a logical next step. A financial planner can also assist your kids in organizing their finances and give them a head start in becoming financially literate.
Prepare to Still Feel Responsible
As you put a stop to financially supporting your kids, you may still feel twinges of desire to help them out. The first step toward dealing with these emotions is to expect that they may come up. However, it’s important to prepare yourself to avoid reacting. Even if your adult child is struggling to figure out how to afford certain expenses, it is ultimately this difficulty that can lead to growth on their end. Being faced with financial realities will likely motivate your children to prepare, save, and budget more diligently.
Putting an end to financially supporting your adult children isn’t easy, especially when considering current financial hardships. With 34 percent of adults between the ages of 18 and 29 having some form of student loan debt, it can be emotionally difficult not to help if your kids are struggling.2 However, easing your adult children into independence and giving them the tools to effectively manage their money can lead to a smooth transition toward a healthier financial state for everyone involved.
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