Financially Supporting Your Adult Kids? Maybe…

According to a CIBC survey last week, one in five parents are helping their adult kids with money to the tune of $500 a month. 71% said it was through free room and board, almost half by paying for groceries and household expenses, and almost 40% by paying cell phone bills.

If experts say it is the generation of helicopter parents, it only stands to reason that becomes enabling them as adults. But we do have to exclude parents helping kids going to college or university! The’ going to school deal’ with be different for every family, and seems reasonable for me as an outsider. This survey also doesn’t account for families who certainly have the wealth to help. If kids have a parent who’s a PHD (Pappa Has Dough), why wouldn’t they make the call for money?

But another survey some months ago found that 80% of parents don’t talk to their teenage kids about money – and this is the result. If they don’t know, they can’t manage their money, learn priorities, or boundaries as adults.

If your adult kid is not going to school and you’re not wealthy, there’s a big problem here. Your love for your kids is unconditional, but you only have a finite amount of money and little time to save for retirement in comparison to your kids. Broke people cannot help others – family or not. I know that’s easy to say when your kid calls – but it’s the truth.

The time to lay the groundwork for this starts at age 14 or so. But here you are now needing to learn to say no in a loving way, and to set financial boundaries if you cannot honestly afford it!

The old Ronald Regan saying of: Trust but verify applies here: If it were me, and that’s how I always discuss things, my kid would need to email me their last two credit card and bank statements. I want to see what money goes in and where it gets spent. Think about it: Priorities 101 say: Food, rent, utilities, transportation. If they cannot even afford food, there’s something WAY bigger here than a few dollars. I would tell my kid that I love them and that’s exactly why I won’t send money. But I’ll have them hooked up with a couple of part-time job interviews by the end of the day.

See, the problem is that many kids won’t take a job they think is “beneath” them. They’re holding out for the BIG job and BIG title. Sorry, eating and shelter trump the cool job in favour of any job to bring in money. A part time job with limited income will immediately re-arrange the financial realities and priorities they didn’t learn at home or at school.

If you do help AFTER you’re comfortable knowing it’s not a lazy, budgeting, blowing through money issue, you need to be smart about it: Make the check for part of the rent payable to the landlord. That way you know where the money goes. Get them a gift card for groceries. It has to be a grocery-only store, so not Wal-Mart (they sell too much other stuff that isn’t from the food family). Make it clear this is an exception and not a monthly support payment. It gives them a 30-day heads up to get that part time job or change their priorities.

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