In an era where “boomerang” children and 30-something basement dwellers have become pop-culture tropes, young people might think they can count on their parents to bail them out of financial trouble.
A survey of parents from Chicago-based BMO Wealth Institute, “The Bank of Mom and Dad – A Source of Comfort For Everyone,” might convince them to think again.
According to BMO, 81 percent of parents say they have provided their adult children with some financial support. But ”The Bank of Mom and Dad” might be closed when the kids come calling. Fewer than half of the study respondents said they would sacrifice their own financial well-being to financially support their children. Just 47 percent of parents would push back retirement to help a child, 34 percent would have a less comfortable retirement, 30 percent would reduce retirement savings, 25 percent would take on debt and 20 percent would make withdrawals from their retirement savings.
According to the study, there may be a generational component to parents’ willingness to help their children: 40 percent of respondents said that at some point, their own parents helped them with their finances as adults.
BMO argued that the willingness of some parents to make sacrifices to help their children reflects anxiety they have for the future.
“Parents want to see their children reach their potential and become successful adults, so it’s not a surprise that they are willing to make sacrifices that could affect their own financial situation to benefit their children’s well-being,” said Stephen Williams, co-head of U.S. financial planning strategy at BMO Private Bank. “Parents need to keep in mind that today’s young adults face unique financial challenges and may require different levels of support than they themselves received.”
When asked what concerned them most financially about their adult children, 42 percent of the parents said problems caused by debt, 33 percent said difficulties in achieving financial independence, and 26 percent said insufficient or lack of employment.
Parents are supporting their children at different levels -- 45 percent of the respondents provide children with money occasionally to resolve emergencies, 22 percent said they assist their children frequently with things like monthly bills, and 14 percent said they support their children with regular, everyday expenses. Just 19 percent of parents reported providing little or no support to their children.
BMO recommended that parents start teaching children about money from an early age, save in a Roth IRA to make their retirement nest egg more flexible, use gift-tax rule exceptions when they choose to support their children and engage in appropriate estate planning to decide how and when to leave a financial legacy for their children.