Top Way to Financially Help Adult Children

Children, Family, Financial Security, Retirement, Saving

December 10, 2020

I have been hearing from so many of you who are worried about how your adult kids are faring, and will fare, in our current economy. Some of those kids have moved home. Some are struggling to make ends meet as their household is dealing with less income.

Your parental-help nerve center is firing. That makes perfect sense. But I also want every parent with adult children to understand that long-term the most impactful way to help them is to do everything you can to make sure you are financially secure in retirement.

A survey conducted by New York Life® during the pandemic reports that many adult children are now providing some financial support to an aging parent. And it’s not just the 50+ crowd helping their 80+ parents. The survey finds that Millennial children are also now experiencing the sandwich of caring for their own children and a parent(s).

Kids helping their parents comes at a high cost. The survey reports that adults who are providing financial support to an aging parent spend close to $1,000 a month.

$1,000 a month. That’s today. Inflation will increase that cost. Assuming a 3% annualized rate of inflation, in 15 years, it will take more than $1,500 a month to pay for what costs $1,000.

You want to know how to help an adult child? Do everything you can to make sure your child will not need to step in with financial assistance down the line. That can be your most valuable gift. Whether you spare them $500 or $1,000 or more a month, that's money they’ll be able to put toward their own financial security. Raising their kids. Saving for their own retirement.

Focusing on how you can insulate your child from needing to financially care for you is how you avert or break a cycle that keeps generations of families from financial security.

You do that by doubling down on saving more for retirement right now. Downsizing to reduce your overhead costs sooner rather than later. Leaning into taking the best care possible—healthy lifestyle choices, exercise—to tilt the odds that you may remain strong and independent for a long time. Those are all choices you make today that can reduce the need for a child to step in with care later on. Or delay when they need to step in.

Far from being selfish, building your own durable financial security is the best step you can take today to help your adult kids.

What you can give them right now is oodles of love and emotional support as they push forward in their careers. A job setback for them today is a detour. Not a dead-end. They have the skills and the time to forge a new path. Your job is to be cheerleader-in-chief to help them summon the resilience to move forward. And in the meantime, know that you are also doing your part to make their future financial situation a lot easier.

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