It’s a common question that parents face at some point: when do I stop financially supporting my grown children?
What if they’re struggling, or what if they just expect money from me every month? How do I know when it’s time to cut them off (if ever)?
While it’s normal to worry about your adult children, at one point, providing for them financially is just not your responsibility anymore.
We’ll help you decide when to stop financially supporting your child and share four tips to handle when your grown child asks for money.
When to Stop Financially Supporting Your Adult Child? Consider These 4 Things
Research shows that parental financial support is linked to a child’s career success. As in, the more parental financial support, the more career success.
And as a parent, it can be difficult to watch your child struggle financially. You want to do everything you can to help them get on their feet, but at some point, you have to ask yourself when enough is enough.
According to a survey from Savings.com, more than half of parents of adults children support them financially.
And if we break their survey down even further, as many as 11% of the adult children are over the age of 35.
So when do you stop financially supporting your adult child?
While there are no hard and fast rules about when to stop financially supporting your child, there are a few things to consider that can help you make the decision.
#1 Your Financial Situation
If you’re struggling to make ends meet, it’s probably not the best time to be giving your adult child money. You have to take care of yourself first and foremost. Not to mention, getting financially stable first before overextending yourself, is a solid habit to pass on to your kids.
If you’re in a good financial situation, on the other hand, then you may be able to afford to help your child out.
#2 The Effort They’re Making
Are they looking for a job? Have they been sending out resumes and going on interviews? Or are they just sitting around expecting you to hand them money?
If they’re not making any effort to find work or, worse, if they’re being disrespectful, then it’s time to have a talk with them about what their plans are before you transfer over the dollars into their account.
On the other hand, if they’re just facing some life struggles but they’re working hard to overcome them on their own, consider helping them out temporarily.
#3 The Amount They’re Asking For
If they’re only asking for a few hundred dollars and you can afford to lend it to them, then perhaps it’s worth temporarily helping them out.
But if they’re asking for thousands of dollars, or help with covering the majority of their monthly expenses, that’s a totally different story.
You have to decide what amount you’re comfortable giving and make sure you’re setting them up for success (instead of simply enabling a long-term financial problem).
#4 How the Money is Being Used
Are they using the money to pay for essentials like food and rent? Or are they blowing it on frivolous things?
If they’re using the money wisely, then you may be more inclined to help them out. But if they’re wasting it, then of course, rethink giving them any more money.
Ultimately, there’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to stopping financial support for your adult child. It’s a personal decision that each parent has to make based on their own circumstances, with the main goal being their own financial independence.
4 Tips to Handle When Your Grown Child Asks for Money
#1 Have an Honest Conversation
When your grown child asks for money, it can be tough to say no. After all, you want to help them out however you can. But it’s important to talk to your child about their finances and make sure that they’re making responsible choices with their money.
According to Fidelity’s research, as many as 38% of parents completely avoid the topic of retirement finances with their adult children.
But if you give them a blank check, they might not make the best decisions. Instead, sit down with them and talk about their financial situation and their plans.
What are their spending habits, budget, income, and expenses? What are their short-term and long-term financial goals?
By getting a clear picture of your child’s finances, you can help them isolate financial culprits and make responsible choices with their money. Helping your child become financially responsible is one of the best gifts you can give them.
#2 Set Some Ground Rules
If you’re going to continue giving your grown child money, it’s important to set some ground rules.
First and foremost, decide how much money you’re willing to give and stick to that number. It can be difficult to say no when your child is asking for money, but it’s important to be firm. You don’t want to set a precedent that you’re always going to give in.
Secondly, decide how often you’re going to give them money. This will help you keep track of how much money you’re giving and also ensure that they’re not constantly asking for money. Once you’ve decided on the frequency, make sure to stick to it.
And finally, determine what the money is to be used for – make sure it’s actually going towards something that you approve of.
#3 Create a Timeline
At some point, you have to start thinking about when to cut the cord and let them fend for themselves. Especially if it’s impacting your own quality of life and interfering with your retirement plans. (Truth be told, if the bad habits continue, it’ll interfere with theirs, too.)
This doesn’t mean that you have to stop giving them money cold turkey. You can even have a timeline in mind of when you plan to decrease, and eventually stop, financial support.
In fact, research on parental support in the transition to adulthood found that the likelihood of receiving financial help decreased by 15% each year.
You can ease into it by gradually decreasing the amount of money that you give them each month, and set up specific milestones that need to be met for you to continue financial support.
For example, maybe they need to get a full-time job, finish school, or start making progress on paying down their own debts.
Whatever the case may be, have a heart-to-heart talk with your child and let them know what your expectations are going forward. It’s also important to keep the lines of communication open so that you can revisit the conversation (and timeline) if need be.
The goal is to help them become financially independent, but at the same time, not leave them high and dry.
#4 Offer Non-Financial Support
And finally, when you eliminate or reduce financial support, be sure to offer other forms of support. Fortunately, there are a few ways to provide non-financial support that can be just as helpful as giving them cash.
For instance, you can offer to help them with their budget, connect them with resources like financial counselors, or offer your advice and knowledge.
Another option is to help them with childcare, housework, or errands. In fact, according to Pew Research, many parents do.
At the end of the day, remember that you’re still their parent and they still need your guidance — even if they are adults. The key is to be creative and tailor your support to their individual needs while helping them advance.
While it’s not always easy, finding a balance between setting boundaries and offering support is ideal. After all, that’s what parenting is all about.
It’s Time to Focus on Your Finances
If you’re like many parents, you may find yourself financially supporting your grown child well into adulthood. Whether it’s helping them pay rent, buying them a car, or simply giving them money when they ask for it, it can be difficult to know when to stop.
There are a few things to consider when making the decision to stop financially supporting your adult child:
- Your financial situation
- The effort they’re making
- The amount they’re asking for
- What the money is used on
But there’s a point when they need to be financially strong and independent. To recap our tips to handle when your grown child asks for money:
- #1 Have an honest conversation — discuss your financial situation and talk about their plans
- #2 Set some ground rules — agree on an amount or limit and what the money can be used for (it’s okay to say no)
- #3 Create a timeline — let them know when you plan to stop giving money and encourage them to start being financially responsible
- #4 Offer non-financial support — be there for them emotionally and help them in other ways
There’s no easy answer when it comes to dealing with grown children and money.
Ultimately, you’ll have to use your best judgment to decide what’s best for your child and their future — and for yourself.