How to Stop the kids Scrounging Off You

The truth is out, according  to a recent CIBC survey:  “one in four parents across Canada say they’re spending more than $500 a month to support their adult children.”

As EmptyBesters, we knew this already.  The adult children are scrounging off us. Part of the problem is that young people are often shielded from frank discussions about money matters.

Are you helping or enabling?

I am not a mean mummy. If anything, I am very practical one. Just when you thought it was safe to plan for retirement, back they come with huge student loans, divorce, and support issues with the grand kids in tow.

Family comes first, Right! If you are financially stable, willing and able. Go for it.  If you feel that your own retirement nest egg  is being depleted at warp factor speed, with no hope of being replaced, read on:

Personal finance expert Suze Orman  says, “You are always to live below your means, but within your needs.” 

Good advice in today’s financial reality.  If you are propping up your young adult’s finances, establish if doing so is part of the problem or the solution. Maybe some lifestyle changes are required.

The 20+ age group seem to be the most vulnerable.

I get flashbacks of Margret Thatcher, the Iron Lady, who was happy to remind people that she was a green grocers daughter, and if she could make it, with education, anyone could.  It is a different world now and the problems seem more acute: like the  incredible student debt  load. Throw in expensive accommodation costs in most cities, where people need to be to get jobs that will pay enough to cover their costs. I have watched as young people struggle. This is all before a graduate gets that first sustainable employment, i.e. a full job.  Never mind trying to get anything in your field of study. Empty Nesters get it.

What to do?

When you start helping financially, establish the limitations that are comfortable and sustainable for you as the lender from the onset.

Is it a gift or a loan?  Sounds simple enough, but family feuds can start for  the simplest reasons.

Set a time frame for paying back or moving out.

All sit down and work out a budget. Let your children see a financial advisor.

Why Does Your young adult need your help?

Unemployment:

This is the big one. The Labour market is tough and young people have to be tougher.  Your young adult may or may not know that looking for work is a full time job.  Until the “dream job” comes along they may have to take whatever will pay the rent, put food on the table and if they are lucky, provide benefits.

Some money is better than no money coming in, especially if there are student loans to pay. We have all heard the stories about people in low paying jobs, who through planning and frugal living retired comfortably.

Those service industry jobs start to look really good. Sometimes it is not how much you make, it is what you do with it that counts.  Reality bites. And don’t forget those nice government student loans, the interest on them has a way becoming phenomenal. If working in a fast food chain gets your young adult out of debt faster, and gives them work experience, the time is never wasted.  Remember young people do unpaid internships and are still unemployed at the end of it.

Accommodation:

Rents are high and usually takes the majority of a paycheck. When financial problems start look for cheaper accommodation, sooner rather than later.  People have told me that they try to maintain housing that they can’t afford for too long. This usually causes more debt than they would have had if they had moved out sooner.

Support

Separation and divorce are so common these days and so is the financial fall out.  Again, a quick response will save money. Seek legal advice quickly, there are free legal clinics in most cities, establishing custody and support until major issues are worked out will greatly reduce financial burdens.

Health

Health issues via long term illnesses or accidents are another cause of financial distress for young adults.  Make sure all insurance claims and financial aids are pursued if available. Contact government and community agencies and medical social workers Taking the time to do this, will  establish entitlement and save money.

Stress is the new common cold.   Talking to professionals may help.  Taking care of  mental health is just as important as taking care of  physical health. Young people have told me how overwhelmed they are with the reality of unemployment and what it means to their lives. How they have sought medical help for depression. Sometimes mental health barriers need to be addressed to help people move on.

At the end of the day our children are family, and this is the primary group that we rely on for support and identity.  However, financial caution is still necessary when dealing with adult children. It is like the safety drill that you get when you are on an airplane.  Parents are advised to put the oxygen mask on themselves first before their children, thereby ensuring that they are in a better position to help. Look after your own finances.  You are entitled.

If this article has inspired you, please share or comment.

J. L. James
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J. L. James

Writer at EmptyBesters
Social Commentator, Original EmptyBester.
J. L. James
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2 thoughts on “How to Stop the kids Scrounging Off You

  1. This is a very frank article dealing with a difficult issue in a no nonsense way. At the moment, (and long may it continue), I have the opposite situation – my boys flew the nest and became totally financially independent very quickly. Just as well really since I decided to work for myself and am pretty poor!!! It must be so tough having to deal with the crises that bring adult kids home – I hope I never experience it but you never know. Great article – thank you.

    1. Thank you for taking the time to comment. I appreciate your candor. I hope I won’t have to experience it either. I am still dealing with the exorbitant post secondary school fees for one, soon to be two children. A great way to keep us all poor even with loans. That being said, I still think we have our creativity and can follow our passions no matter what the future holds.

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