One-in-five boomers admit they’d put their own financial security at risk to help support their adult children, finds a TD study.
In fact, the majority has already financially supported their adult children in some capacity. This includes letting them live at home rent free (43%), subsidizing big purchases like a new car or computer (29%), contributing to monthly bills like groceries and rent (23%), and helping pay off their credit cards or other debt (20%).
“As a parent, it’s natural to want to help when children struggle with finances, but it’s important this support does not compromise your own financial stability and retirement savings goals,” says John Tracy, a senior vice president at TD Canada Trust.
Family relationship expert and social worker Gary Direnfeld says a little tough love is essential to avoid a cycle of dependency and to maintain healthy family dynamics.
Here are some tips for boomer parents.
Have open and honest conversations
If grown children move back home, discuss their responsibilities, including whether they’ll pay rent or cover any household expenses.
“If the support strains your finances, share those concerns,” Direnfeld says. “The big challenge is withstanding the initial backlash and staying firm.”
Pay yourself first
Prioritize retirement savings. “Millennials have decades left in the workforce to earn money, but boomers likely do not,” says Tracy. “If parents can’t support themselves in retirement, then they risk shifting the financial strain onto their children instead.”
To make saving simpler, set up regular preauthorized transfers of a set amount into an RSP, and a TFSA for emergencies.
More than half of parents estimate that even though their adult children are not attending school, they provide between $100 and $300 each month in financial support. And 18% have helped their children with the down payment on their first homes. Regardless of how much support parents offer, it’s crucial to budget.
Read: Help Gen Y overcome 4 barriers to homeownership
“Before helping with a down payment, speak with a financial planner and mortgage expert to understand the financial implications and, more importantly, to find out if all parties can truly afford to do it,” Tracy says.
Be a role model
Teaching children about money from a very young age can help prevent a cycle of dependency. But, parents who are supporting adult children today should shift from financial aid to coach.
“Help kids establish a plan to get their expenses under control and pay down debts,” adds Tracy.