Six out of 10 parents provide or have provided financial help to adult children who are no longer students, according to an online poll for ForbesWoman and the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE).
The survey, conducted by Harris Interactive in May, quizzed 1,074 U.S. adults, including non-students aged 18 to 39 and their parents.
The ways parents help or have helped financially:
- Providing a place to live: 50%
- Helping with expenses: 48%
- Helping with transportation-related costs: 41%
- Helping with insurance coverage: 35%
- Giving spending money: 29%
- Paying for medical expenses: 28%
- Making emergency deposits made to their child(ren)’s checking/savings account: 19%
- Helping to pay back loans: 16%
- Paying credit card debt: 16%
- Helping with a down payment for a home: 7%
- Providing some other type of assistance: 6%
Many of those helped felt that life is financially tougher for their generation, and many parents agreed. But some parents took the economic outpatient therapy too far: One in four took on extra debt to help their kids and 7% delayed retirement.
All this fits with what I learned writing “Should parents bail out their adult kids?” The experts warned that financially supporting adult children could have deleterious effects–and then proceeded to tell me how they handled handouts with their own adult offspring.
It’s easy to condemn parental financial help, but clearly most parents are doing it. The two crucial questions parents need to ask:
Can I afford to do this? If it means taking on debt or stinting your retirement savings, the answer is no.
Will this really help? Sometimes parental financial aid is the one-time boost kids need to get on track or take a step forward in their lives. Other times, it creates a cycle of dependence. If you suspect one request for help will just lead to another, then it may be time to push your fledgling out of your financial nest.