Say No Out of Love, Rather than Yes Out of Fear

Family, Kids, Retirement, Saving

October 31, 2019

I know many of you are helping out your adult kids financially. I also know that many of you are worried you won’t be in great shape when it comes to retirement.


So, you know where this is headed, right? We need to talk about why you are continuing to provide support to your kids when it means you have fewer dollars to put toward your own financial security.


If a child is truly struggling to get a footing in the adult world, that’s one thing. But what I see and hear are many parents who are helping pay for wants, not needs. Your child wanted her own place rather than sharing with roommates, so you are contributing to the rent. Your child wanted a new car, so you are pitching in on the monthly payment, when he could have handled it on his own if he had bought a used car.


And let’s see a show of hands for how many parents out there continue to pay for keeping the kids on their cellphone plan or health insurance. If your child is working, those are expenses they should cover, not you.


I know you want to help. Your kid is always your kid, no matter how old they are. But I am asking you to focus on how this helping is hurting you. Every $50, $100 or more a month that goes toward an adult child is money you don’t have to pay down your debt or add to your retirement savings. How is that generous?


I want you to jump forward 10, 20, 30 years. You are retired, but money is so tight that your adult kids –who are now in the middle of raising their own families – need to step in with some financial help. That’s a situation that will not be easy for any of you.

I think one of the kinder moves you can make is to cut off your adult kids now, so you have more cash to shore up your finances. If you think it will be a jolt for them, then work out a schedule. Tell them that you want to phase out your contribution for X in 3 months and your contribution for Y in 6 months. The bigger your help, the more time they may need.


I will leave it up to you to figure out the logistics. But you must stand in the truth that asking your capable, employed adult children to support themselves is how you can make sure they don’t

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