Baby boomers are a generous lot, but they should consider how their generosity might affect their retirement plans before agreeing to financially help aging parents or adult children, according to the recent Money Across Generations study completed by Ameriprise Financial.

   Ameriprise surveyed more than 1,000 affluent baby boomers (those with at least $100,000 to invest), as well as a smaller sampling of aging parents and adult children of those same boomers. The study found that two-thirds of boomers questioned are helping their adult children pay off college loans. More than half are helping with expenses such as buying a car and more than one-third are helping their children cover their cost of living expenses such as medical insurance or rent.

   In all, nine out of ten surveyed are helping children financially in some way. Among those same boomers, one out of six is caught in the middle by providing financial assistance to both an adult child and an aging parent.

   While most respondents report they are happy to help and that half of the boomers feel the efforts actually make their children more financially responsible, few consider that it affects their own retirement income because the money comes from their daily spending money or from savings other than retirement funds, the survey shows.

   "Boomers seem to know they shouldn't dip into their retirement savings," says Craig Brimhall, vice president of retirement wealth strategies for Ameriprise Financial. "Yet, they don't see how tapping day-to-day spending money impacts their ability to save. The reality is that most boomers already are not saving enough and many still haven't calculated what they'll need in retirement."

   The average 65-year-old with a life expectancy of an additional 18 years and an income of $100,000 needs a $1.6 million nest egg to retire at the same level, says Ameriprise, a financial planning and services company.