Should Parents Help Their Adult Children Financially?


57 Comments
Financial Help from Parents

Johnny and I read an interesting article that accompanied a mini-Twitter (follow us here) discussion yesterday morning, so we wanted to get y’all’s take on it. (We’re headed to my home state of Alabama for Thanksgiving, so I’m brushing up on my Southern drawl.) The article stated some pretty interesting stats, the main one being that many millenials who are doing well financially are still getting monetary help from their parents.

The article cites a survey showing that one in four millenials making $75k or more are getting help with groceries from parents. Another result showed that more than 1 in 10 married millenials still gets parental help with their cell phone bill. And these are the millenials who are doing well financially. The other millenials? More than a third are receiving regular financial support from their families. And one in five still live at home and don’t pay rent.

As millenials ourselves, these stats surprised us a little, especially the stats about millenials who are making more than $75k. We’re not here to say whether this is right or wrong, good or bad. It’s just surprising. And more importantly, we just want to  figure out what this says about our generation.

Are we lazy? Entitled? Coddled? Are we drowning in student loans? Are we just bad with money?

Or does it have nothing to do with us at all, and are these stats more telling of our parents?

Johnny and I lean toward the latter — that while both parents and millenials play some role, this survey says more about our parents than it does us. Knowing what we know about ourselves and our friends, our generation isn’t asking for financial help, but our parents are offering help, and oftentimes we’re taking it. (We aren’t specifically, but you get what I mean.)

And, as the article mentions, perhaps even parents who aren’t financially fit themselves are offering help to their millenial children. The truth is, much of our generation is drowning in student debt, and maybe parents want to alleviate some of that financial stress by helping where they can. The question is, when should that help stop? Johnny and I think parents should only be helping their adult children once the parents have amply padded their retirement. But that’s just our opinion. Now it’s time for yours.

Fellow millenials (and non-millenials), what do you think? What’s your observation been of our generation and our parents? If there’s a problem, what is it? And also, TGIF!

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57 Comments

  • Reply MomofTwoPreciousGirls November 21, 2014 at 8:20 am

    I’m at the very end of Gen X…almost dipping into Gen Y. I think you hit it on the head with two things. Student loan debt and the parents! I’m thinking a lot of the millennials parents were in a generational sandwich caring for their kids and their parents. They couldn’t afford to save and pay for their kids education and they feel guilty about it. So now their kids are drowning in debt (which makes the good salary kind of non existent) and the parents want to help. I don’t think MOST millennials are lazy (some of those in every generation) but they certainly grew up with more stuff (computers and tablets and cell phones weren’t really big for young kids in the older generations) so they got used to a certain way of life and they are not going to go out of their way to pay on their own! When I was a teen my parents were very clear if I wanted a car I had to buy myself, pay for my own gas and my own insurance. Same went for my beeper (lol), and my clothes and my shoes…even my high school tuition when I refused to attend the local crappy high school. I’ve worked full time for more than half my life and before that I babysat and delivered newspapers! I have a lot of expectations of my kids and don’t plan on adding them to my cell phone plane when they turn 8!!!!

    • Reply TT November 21, 2014 at 8:59 am

      “They couldn’t afford to save and pay for their kids education and they feel guilty about it.” –Totally agree.

      “they got used to a certain way of life and they are not going to go out of their way to pay on their own!” –This is a big one. I know parents have their hearts in a good spot and may want to help, but they are really making things worse in the long run. They are further ingraining in their kids minds that they deserve or can’t live without their iPhone, iPad, PS4, cable, newer cars, etc. This ends up clouding judgment as to what is really a “need.” It also prevents kids from having to face reality and say to themselves “I really want that, and all my friends have it, but I just can’t afford it right now.” By shielding kids from these hard, real-world realizations parents delay financial maturation, prevent themselves from saving appropriately, and put their kids on a more likely track for consumer debt as they try to maintain this lifestyle that is being propped up by others.

    • Reply Johnny December 11, 2014 at 11:17 pm

      Yes, yes, yes to everything here — especially the beeper. Man I wanted one of those soooo bad.

      My parents were super generous with me, but they helped me get out of the house and get a job by 14 and kept one all through high school. I’d love to help my kids wherever possible, but definitely not at the detriment of their learning or our own financial health.

      Great comment.

  • Reply Katie B. November 21, 2014 at 9:46 am

    1. You’re from Alabama!? Me too… Tuscaloosa born & bred.

    2. I also read an article about a 20-something ER Physician’s Assistant living with her parents and not paying rent. Of course now I don’t remember where I read it, but it was talking about the same topic – are millennials just spoiled, do we actually NEED the assistance, or are our parents just that awesome?

    Well… here’s my take. My husband is currently in his final 18 months (I hope) of grad school. His parents have not had to pay a dime in tuition – he has been on scholarship from bachelors to PhD. He also works part-time for UA and gets a stipend. But that stipend is maybe 1/3 of what he will make when he actually graduates. I work full time, but I don’t make a lot (great benefits, though!)… so we have just been scraping by during these years. We have a toddler in daycare full-time. His parents pay for his car insurance, cell phone, books for school, as well as any trips he/we take to conferences or for research. They are so kind to do that and they see it as all part of his “tuition” that they did not have to pay. My parents are still generous enough to pay my cell phone bill (I think it is $30 a month on our family plan?) and, up until this year, they paid for my car tag ($100). And both sets of parents frequently offer to buy our daughter clothes and treats and they also often help pay for things like family photos. So, we don’t get a tremendous amount of help – but it definitely helps lessen the burden on us. We have ever intention of becoming financially independent once my husband is out of school.

    However, when I do the math and add up how much we will make after he graduates… I still don’t see how it will be enough. I know $75K sounds like a large salary for a young person. But when you think that most millenials are going to graduate school (the master’s is the new bachelor’s), you have to consider that graduates are paying hundreds of dollars in student loans each month. When I number-crunch our prospective budget, there’s VERY little wiggle room if we want to include things like saving for retirement and paying off our student loans quickly.

    So, I say all that to say… while I don’t think student loans are totally to blame, I think they definitely play a large role in this changing financial relationship between parents and their children. At least, in my life, student loans are the culprit. If we weren’t paying on my student loans right now, we would be a little more financially free.

    Sorry I wrote a book!

    • Reply Johnny December 11, 2014 at 11:43 pm

      1. I am grateful to have married one of your kind so that I can eat myself into a BBQ/fried coma every trip. Roll Tide!

      2. Great points, and thanks for sharing your own story. I think what your parents are willing to give and what you’re willing to receive is totally reasonable and nice. I think it’s only questionable when the help is being given at the expense of the parents’ own financial wellbeing.

      As to your student loan concerns, they’re definitely warranted and definitely our generation’s greatest financial threat. That being said, you can kill that debt monster and live to tell about it. Take comfort knowing that a whole lotta people have done it. It will probably be tight for some time, but that doesn’t mean life can’t be fun and fulfilling. You totally got this.

      • Reply Katie B. December 12, 2014 at 9:21 am

        Ahhhh the barbecue. :)

        Thanks for the encouragement! We are grateful to have parents who are there for us and we hope to be able to do the same for our daughter when she is an adult.

  • Reply Little House November 21, 2014 at 9:51 am

    I think this is very telling of the shift in parenting over the years; parents feel obligated to give “things” to their children. I’m not sure when this shift began, but perhaps around the time both parents started working or became a two-income household. Maybe they feel guilty that they don’t spend the quality time with their children, so instead buy them things and give them money to supplement for the lost time. I’m part of Gen X and always had one parent at home. My parents have always felt that I should work for everything I have. With the exception of paying my college tuition many years ago (which was huge!), they have never footed the bill for my expenses, such as cell phones, groceries, etc. I wonder if anyone has studied this correlation.

    • Reply Johnny December 11, 2014 at 11:48 pm

      I’d love to read a study about that. I totally believe your hypothesis. It’s a sad one, but likely true.

  • Reply Becky @ RunFunDone November 21, 2014 at 9:56 am

    Shrug.

    Do I think it’s stupid for parents to give their adult children unneeded financial help? Yes. ‘But it’s they’re choice of how they want to spend their money. Most of the people I know waste their money like crazy, and I suppose that wasting ones money by giving it to an individual who should be financially independent is no worse than wasting it on designer jeans.

  • Reply Cate M. November 21, 2014 at 10:14 am

    I am 26 and my husband and I have been “on our own” for 5 years. My parents help us by watching the kids or giving us hand-me-downs of furniture or lawn equipment. We would never feel right accepting cash from them or them paying our bills…no matter how deep in the hole we were. We are adults now and we have to learn our lessons just like they did when they were younger; granted-students loans are heinous these days and they give out credit cards like candy.
    I have recently reconnected with 3 of my good friends from high school and they ALL live with their parents.
    Friend : Hopped on a bus on a whim with all of his cash and went to long beach. He slept on a park bench and then hopped another bus and ended up in Des Moines Iowa. Eventually he got his own apartment and soon after lost his job. He then went into debt trying to survive so he moved back in with his parents to pay off that debt. He is working and driving his high school car. I doubt his dad gives him money or pays his bills but he is letting him live there rent free.
    Friend 2: Her and her husband moved to Pheonix so that he could go to trade school to work on motorcycles. The were both laid off from their jobs within a week of each other. The moved back to find a new direction. As far as i know they pay their own bills but live rent free.
    Friend 3: Went to school for dental hygiene and failed her certification test 3 times. She now lives with her parents and has leased a new subaru. She racked up 20k in student loans for dental hygiene and refuses to take the certification exam anymore so she is living with her parents, rent free, and working as a receptionist.

    They all have different circumstances that led them to where they are but at the same time I don’t feel like there is an urge to move out and be independent. They are comfortable living with their parents, rent free, and their parents dont seem to mind.
    All I know is that if my parents hadnt encouraged me to move out and be on my own who knows where I would be. Having your family support you is a tremendous gift but their is a difference between help when needed and babying. Let these people learn the hard way that they have to budget for groceries and their phone bill. Its a part of life and it needs to be learned.
    We cant always afford groceries so we dig deep in our pantry or buy mac n’ cheese and ramen noodles. We learn for the next week to budget accordingly.
    To end this rant ill just say- it’s a part of life and growing up. At some point you need to be responsible for yourself and parents need to let their children learn life lessons the hard way.

    • Reply Johnny December 11, 2014 at 11:59 pm

      “At some point you need to be responsible for yourself and parents need to let their children learn life lessons the hard way.”

      Before having Sally, I would have said, “Heck yeah! Get out and figure crap out, kids.” Now… I’d still say mostly the same thing, but I can totally understand why those parents have allowed their kids back in and still coddle them. You’re totally right though. Just tough in practice, ya know?

  • Reply Tarynkay November 21, 2014 at 10:17 am

    I can’t speak to every situation. But on the topic of adult children living rent free with parents- I have noticed that this arrangement is fairly common among first and second generation immigrants. The adult children live with mom and dad at least until they get married, sometimes beyond. Mom and dad then expect to move in with their married children and live rent free when they retire. The grandparents then take care of childcare so that both parents can work.

    I wonder if, given the inadequate retirement savings of many parents of millenials, this is the agreement or expectation. Mom and dad will help while you are getting on your feet, then you turn around and care for mom and dad in their dotage.

    I don’t know, I am just speculating. It could be just spoiled young people who will leave their folks out to dry when the time comes. But it could also be the beginning of a cultural shift.

    • Reply Johnny December 12, 2014 at 12:05 am

      I think it’s mostly a cultural and “honor your elders” thing outside of the US where this happens. I can specifically think of India and Japan where this is common and expected. But unfortunately, I don’t think that’s what’s going in the states. I wish it was a cultural shift, because it’s actually a really sweet idea — have three generations living under one roof. Now that I’ve said it out loud though…. might be a really bad idea. :)

  • Reply Sarah November 21, 2014 at 10:31 am

    Oooh dang. So much I could comment here.

    1) When I worked at a bank right after high school, I could NOT count how many parents would come in throughout the week to deposit money into their child’s account. They were watching the balances online and as soon as they go low they would come in and add more money. I thought this was ridiculous. If your child is old enough to live outside the house, then they’re old enough to watch their own bank accounts and figure out how much they could spend per month. Sheesh.

    2) At the same time, our parents did help me and my husband when we were first married and still in college. In my parents words “my parents were always there to help us in time of need, and we want to do the same for you.” They would pay our cell phone bill and help out with groceries from time to time. But as soon as we were on our feet and able to cover those bills on our own, we did. If we were “rich” enough to take a vacation and get a dog, then we were “rich” enough to pay for our own cell phones and bad eating habits.

    I guess the situation just varies by person. Me and my husband genuinely needed help and my parents wanted to be there for us. They saved us from taking out a whole lot of student loans in order to make it through our college years. But then you have the opposite spectrum, where parents are either A) allowing their kids to take advantage of them or B) not giving their kids the chance to learn how to make it on their own. I think the issue lies on both sides with this one….

    • Reply Johnny December 12, 2014 at 12:35 am

      1. Cringeeeee. That’s bad. Reallllly bad. If I ever become those parents, you have permission to publicly shame me. Don’t know what that means, but I hope it’s very embarrassing.

      2. My parents were the same way. With some minor variations, it’s actually a model I hope to emulate.

  • Reply Caryn November 21, 2014 at 10:51 am

    I’m 26 and living with my parents (I feel like I just confessed to something or introduced myself at some sort of ‘Anonymous’ meeting). I think, though, my situation is probably a little different than many my age who live at home – I graduate with my Master’s degree next month(!) and recently got a full time job in my hometown and am living with my parents for now. I will say, I’m making nowhere near that $75K statistic. When I moved back I bought a house, but it’s a fixer upper so my parents have graciously let me live with them rent-free while my house is under construction.

    Through college and most of graduate school I’ve gotten some financial assistance from my parents – their assistance has gone down as I’ve gotten older. They never paid any of my tuition (I’ve been on scholarship for college and graduate school), so they’ve very generously paid all or portions of my car and health insurance and cell phone bill. Once I bought my house, though, I was on my own for all of those things, but they are helping me with the bill for renovating my house because it’s turned into a bigger project than I ever anticipated. It’s not a gift, though. We’re treating it almost like a second mortgage – I will repay everything they’ve lent me for my house at the same interest rate of my mortgage.

    I am beyond grateful for all of the financial help my parents have given me. In my situation, I think it has more to do with my parents than it does with me. I haven’t asked for any of this, and I’m certainly not lazy – I work full time, and at times during school have worked at least 2 jobs. I’m certain my parents wouldn’t have helped me as much as they have if they couldn’t do it – they have and continue to save a good amount for retirement. And I really do think they’re trying to make sure I’m happy, comfortable, and safe in my home and relieve some of the stress that comes along with finishing graduate school, starting a career, and being a first time homeowner.

    • Reply Joanna December 12, 2014 at 2:05 pm

      Loved reading your insight, Caryn! I think the key here is that your parents have helped you but not put their own financial well-being in jeopardy by doing so. And it sounds like it’s a good balance between you being independent and responsible and them helping only where there’s a need. Congrats on graduating! And how fun to be renovating a house! Keep up the good work.

  • Reply Michelle November 21, 2014 at 12:19 pm

    I haven’t received any help whatsoever from anyone since I was in high school, so this just boggles my mind. I know parents who are struggling financially yet still help their children. It’s just a disaster.

    However, I think if parents are on track for retirement, then they can do whatever they want with their money, as long as they are not enabling their children.

    • Reply Joanna December 12, 2014 at 2:06 pm

      Agreed. As long as the parents are set, it’s great for them to help — as long as it’s helping and not enabling. And way to go on being so independent and hard working!

  • Reply Brian November 21, 2014 at 12:21 pm

    Parents want to help their kids. So they do. It is really up to the kid to cut it off.

    It is also possible the parent would rather give their kids their “inheritance” now than wait until they die. At least then they know it is going towards some sort of bill and not just so their kid can blow it on a car. But I really think it boils back down to parents just wanting to help their kids.

    • Reply Joanna December 12, 2014 at 2:08 pm

      Yes, agreed. And as long as the parents are in a responsible financial position to help, why not?… as long as it doesn’t hinder a kid’s ability to be an independent, responsible adult.

  • Reply Kasey @ Debt Perception November 21, 2014 at 12:38 pm

    I’m not well off, not even close, despite being married. My mother is too broke to help and I’m usually the one that has to send her money because her SS runs out after bills get paid and whatever is broken (major appliances) in her old home gets fixed. My dad, on the other hand, feels bad about my student loan debts. While in college, his income was too high for me to receive any financial aid, so he encouraged me to take out student loans, said it would be easier for him to make specific monthly payments after I graduated rather than pay for changing tuition prices every quarter. So now he sends me money every month to keep the behemoth, Navient (Sallie Mae) satiated.

    I guess I should add that my 30 year old alcoholic brother is still living with my dad. He can’t drive, and can’t keep a job. But my dad had no problem kicking my eldest sister (with 2 kids) out when she turned 30.

    I’m not a parent, and never will be so maybe my viewpoint may be skewed, but I guess my stance on this subject is that parents should do whatever they feel like in regards to helping their adult children (though I do think my dad should have kicked my brother out years ago). But, so long as expected parental contribution is a question on FAFSA, parents should be helping their (young) adult children with college costs.

    • Reply Joanna December 12, 2014 at 2:10 pm

      Parents will do what they’ll do… that’s something all of us adult children have to learn or have already learned. Glad your dad is helping with the loan repayments… it sounds like he’s in a position to be able to do that, which is great.

  • Reply Kayleigh November 21, 2014 at 1:54 pm

    I think it’s really tough for parents to figure out how much help is appropriate and often end up enabling and coddling their adult kids.

    Handling the financial responsibility of being an adult was really hard when I was 18. My parents both had middle aged siblings who had been coddled their entire lives by their own parents and were totally crippled by it and unable to manage their own lives. They were scared of doing that to me.

    Now that I’m 25 I can proudly say that I have put myself through school on my own and lived financially independent from my parents for 5 years. It was hard to work full time while in school full time, but I did it, and it’s something I’ve had a lot of potential employers comment on positively when I’ve gone in for interviews. My parents pay none of my bills, and since I was 20, the only money I’ve ever borrowed was a small sum ($300) that I needed when I unexpectedly lost my job while I was finishing school. Of course I paid them back as soon as I was able. They’re proud of me, and I’m proud of myself, and that’s how I think it should be.

    I also have to admit that I have a very poor opinion of “kids” who continue to mooch off their parents and parents who continue to give their children allowances, pay their car payments or cell phone bills or even health insurance while their kids are 18+ and have a job of their own. I know so many people who are my age who have no idea how much their own cell phone bill is, or have no idea that they should be extremely appreciative of parents paying hundreds of extra dollars a month to keep them on their health insurance plan, and they’re going to be totally screwed when their parents finally cut the cord.

    • Reply Joanna December 12, 2014 at 2:14 pm

      That’s great, Kayleigh! It sounds like your experience has really helped you in the long run. Johnny and I feel the same about our experience of being independent at such a young age. And it’s made us more confident in what we can accomplish on our own.

      We’d love to be able to help our kids out some when they’re in college, but we’ll have to be extremely thoughtful about how to do it in such a way that they still learn independence and don’t take any help for granted.

  • Reply Kendal @HassleFreeSaver November 21, 2014 at 2:43 pm

    I was surprised by the stats you reference, as well. It doesn’t make much sense to me that a married person making over $75K would still burden their parents with a cell phone bill. I’m sure there’s more to the story than that, but come on — parents may not have overwhelming student debt, but they still have retirement and other huge expenses ahead of them. I’m not a parent, but I’d like to think I’d take a tough love approach to money management once my child became an adult. If they were struggling, I would do what I could to help, but not without rules and boundaries designed to help them better manage money.

    • Reply Joanna December 12, 2014 at 2:15 pm

      Agreed! The rules and boundaries have to be put in place. Admittedly, I’m a softie, so it will be hard to show tough love to our kids — but ultimately, that’s what will be best in a lot of situations!

  • Reply Kristin November 21, 2014 at 2:52 pm

    Whoa, that surprises me. Cut the cord! On any income, but especially earning $75k and married! This has to have a negative effect on the marriages… how can it not? I would not have dated, let alone married, a “man” who was dependent on his parents. I don’t even like the idea of sharing phone plans with extended family. No-strings-attached gifts from financially stable parents are a different story.

    • Reply Joanna December 12, 2014 at 2:19 pm

      I can totally see how parents struggle letting their kids go and be completely independent. But I really hope when the time comes, we’re strong enough to cut that cord. Because, you’re right… the last thing you want to do is have your “help” affect them negatively!

  • Reply EcoCatLady November 21, 2014 at 2:56 pm

    Very interesting statistics! Gen-x’er here… and I’ve gotta say I have mixed feelings on the topic.

    My parents NEVER provided the regular sort of financial help that you’re describing. Once I turned 18 I was on my own in that respect. They did, however help out with a number of big ticket items throughout my adulthood. They paid for most of my college tuition. Mom bought me a car when I graduated from college (partly a gift and partly self-defense maneuver since I was on my 4th beater car that I’d purchased myself and was planning to drive across the country. I think she was wary of getting the call that went something like this: “Hi mom… the car died somewhere in the middle of Iowa…”) Anyhow, Dad helped me with a down payment on my house. Mom gave me an interest free loan to help my start a home-based business, and Dad gave me a nice chunk to help me finish paying off the mortgage.

    So when you add that all up it’s probably much more money than the monthly stuff that you describe above, but somehow it feels different to me. Kinda like these were gifts that helped me be independent rather than an ongoing gravy train that kept me tied to my parents financially. Does that make any sense?

    • Reply Joanna December 12, 2014 at 2:21 pm

      Yep, it does. And how very generous! It sounds like they were able to find the balance between helping you and making sure you still learned responsibility and independence.

  • Reply Megyn November 22, 2014 at 1:40 pm

    I agree that I think it’s an issue with the parents and the kids. I’m a Millenial, but did not receive very much financial help from my parents at all. When I wanted to get my driver’s license, I had to prove to my parents that I could afford the car insurance and gas. If I wanted clothes for the year past what the $100 school budget bought, it came out of my pocket. I worked two jobs throughout most of high school, so I could afford the things I wanted. When I went to college, I knew I had a college fund set up by my maternal grandparents, but I chose not to touch it. I used scholarships to pay for school and was able to work enough to pay for off campus living. I did move home for one semester, where I didn’t pay for room or board, but I still HAD to have a job and was expected to pay for all of my bills. My husband, new baby, and I all moved in with my parents for 6 months after our first was born, where we again received free room & board (and babysitting), but it was expected that my hubby be going to school and PASS his certification. We still paid for our own bills during that time.

    Having to pay my own way from such a young age, I fully appreciate as an adult. I learned how to budget money. I learned how to do without. I learned frugality. I understand that parents want to help, but I believe monthly bill paying is stifling to these young adults. When will they learn how to budget appropriately?! My little brother-in-law just went off to college. His parents are helping with his phone bill and probably food, but he is coming up for money for everything else. He is FREAKING out about how to do this. Before college, he never had to pay for anything. He is now having to figure out budgeting and money a little late in the game. My husband also never learned these skills and it has been a major source of contention in our relationship.

    As for the suggestion that parents are helping due to student loan debt, I think it’s a bit of a cop-out. I think parents aren’t helping kids be realistic with colleges and kids aren’t being smart enough to avoid loans or getting smaller loans. There are very few careers where you NEED to go to a fancy, private or out-of-state college. Going to community college to get lower division classes is a great option, but generally frowned upon. What I have observed is that people want to have their cake and eat it too. They want to have the crazy, wild, fun college life without the stress of where the money is coming from. And now they and their parents are paying for it. If they had been responsible from the get-go, some of this could have been avoided.

    • Reply Joanna December 12, 2014 at 2:25 pm

      Really loved reading your thoughts on this topic, Megyn. I really like that you learned about budgeting BEFORE you left home at 18. When kids haven’t had to think about it before that (myself included), it comes as quite a blow when college rolls around. After reading your experience, I really hope Johnny and I can instill that work ethic and financial savviness in our kids before they leave home. It sounds like it’s really served you well!

  • Reply Emily @ evolvingPF November 23, 2014 at 5:56 pm

    We had this situation come up for us just this week, actually.

    My husband and I have each been financially independent from our parents since right after college, when we started grad school. But our parents still want to give us gifts – sometimes sizeable gifts. We don’t know how to refuse without hurting their feelings.

    So for us it’s not that our parents are paying ongoing bills for us, but that they want to treat us from time to time. This could be large cash gifts for birthdays/our anniversary, expensive toys, or paying for vacations.

    My MIL offers to pay for our plane tickets every time we fly to see them (probably at least 10 times now). We thank her and refuse every time (except once when we were flying at the last minute for a funeral). But for this Christmas break, she just sent us a check without asking first. If we don’t cash the check we know her feelings will be hurt and she’ll bring it up when we see her. But we can pay for our own tickets, darn it!

    In general I feel okay about this situation because we are not dependent on our parents, nor do we count on these gifts coming, but I’m not too happy about the check for the plane tickets this winter break. It’s not manipulative or anything, but it hurts our pride a bit.

    I’m not sure if these gifts will continue when we both have post-PhD jobs, like if this was a you’re-poor-students phenomenon. I hope that’s not the reason for them, because we are quite financially solvent even on our low salaries and our parents know that. I hope that they are just giving like this because they have excess wealth they want to transfer.

    The point in my situation is: I’m a married Millennial and I accept gifts from my parents, but the gifts are more about them wanting to give than us needing to receive (I think).

    • Reply Joanna December 12, 2014 at 2:28 pm

      Totally. I think the situation you describe isn’t anything like the stats in the article I referenced. You guys are completely independent, and those gifts aren’t enabling or hindering your progress as responsible adults in any way. I say just accept the gifts and realize they come from a place of love. And enjoy your Christmas break! :)

  • Reply Rachel November 23, 2014 at 8:17 pm

    I’m 32 so feel like I am in the gap bween gen-x and gen-y (but correct me if I’m wrong!). Since I left school I have paid my way. On a couple of occassions at uni I borrowed money from my parents but it was paid back asap each time. If I moved home for the summer I paid rent and can’t imagine being a grown adult with a grown up job and sponging off them on an on-going basis. It astounds me that others do. Even as a teenager I had an allowance from which I paid my phone bill.

    However parents are still parents even when there kids are grown. I know my grandparents never let my parents leave after a visit without something, even if it was a fruit cake or veg from the garden. When I had a bad accident in my early 20’s I moved back home for a couple of years until I was well enough to live independently. When I was getting benefits I gave them £10pw, it was very little but I wanted to give them something. As I started working again I increased what I paid every month and once I got my insurance money I gave them some of that too to cover all the costs they had (inc moving house for me). My parents wouldn’t have not helped me in this situation but if I was working full time in a graduate job earning good money I would certainly have been paying a fair rent.

    Like Emily my parents have offered to buy tickets to visit them. When I was a poor student I accepted the bus ticket home for the weekend about 50% of the time. Since I’ve been working I’ve only accepted help for last minute, unexpected journeys; such as funerals. We have a complicated dance of not wanting to offend but also wanting to pay our own way. I would add its not just parents for this, when my grandmother took a bad turn and passed away while my parents were abroad my aunty offered to buy me a last minute ticket to say goodbye- I told her that’s what an emergency fund is for.

    I’ve written loads here, the bottom line is part of being an adult is being financially responsible and independent. If my partner had been dependent on his parents despite his good job etc I would not have entered a relationship with him.

    • Reply Joanna December 12, 2014 at 2:33 pm

      Like I said to Emily, I think your situation is totally different than the stats listed in the article. Of course parents are still going to be parents and help in little ways… honestly, I think that’s great. And I hope to still help my kids here and there as long as I live. I think it’s great that you are and choose to be as independent as possible and that you’ve accepted that as part of adulthood. You’re doing things right, Rachel!

  • Reply Mrs SSC November 24, 2014 at 8:58 am

    I totally see this trend – and it has actual been a topic of discussion in our household of how NOT to enable our children in this way. My husband is the most successful of his siblings – and since his mom is not well off, his sister has tried a few times to ask for a ‘loan’ from him. She stopped when he said he would loan her money, once he set up some legal forms and they agreed on a repayment schedule… she wasn’t asking for a loan but for a gift!

  • Reply Amy November 24, 2014 at 9:28 am

    My parents were poor during my early childhood, but slowly they became very successful in their careers. My dad recently sold off a large part of his business for a good profit. He realized that my brother and I will either likely inherit this money after he passes or he could give us gifts that he could see us enjoy right now. He decided to gift us with new cars since we both had 15+ year old cars. The gift was entirely unexpected, but has been so helpful because it has allowed me to start paying off my student loans more aggressively. Plus it brings my parents a sense of security now that we are both in much safer cars. So yes my parents support me, but it’s a choice they make and not something I expect or demand.

    • Reply Joanna December 10, 2014 at 12:28 am

      Very cool! I think that’s great, and it sounds like you really appreciate it. I hope to be a parent who can help my kids like that someday.

  • Reply Samantha November 24, 2014 at 10:19 am

    Both my husband and I have been financially independent since we got jobs in high school but our situation has changed in the last year —

    We moved in, rent free, with my parents last fall when I was (unexpectedly) pregnant with our son. Our agreement from the beginning was that we were using our previous rent money to save for a down payment for a house. My husband has massive student loans and had to dig himself out of an unemployment hole when we started dating and I had meager savings to my own name so this was the best way to really stash some cash while we waited for the little guy to arrive. Once he started daycare, our savings each month went down but we’re still saving what we can and will hopefully buy our home in the next year.

    I’m still on the family cell phone and car insurance plans but my siblings and I each pay our share of those bills. It’s so expensive to do separate plans (or to leave existing plans) — I pay $30/mo for cell while my husband is on his own plan for something like $100/mo.

    I think it all depends on your location (we’re in DC area — very expensive to live here), the terms of such support, and your relationship with your parents. I’ve helped them financially on the rare occasion they needed it, and they’ve been there for me. We pitch in around the house and they’ve taken care of our son on the odd day we can’t. We are very fortunate to have their support for our future goals and probably couldn’t do it without them.

    • Reply Joanna December 10, 2014 at 12:26 am

      I think parents should be there for their kids in a situation like yours. And I’m glad you guys have had someone you could turn to during a time when you needed it. Every situation is different, but it sounds like their support has been a great asset for you guys, which is great.

  • Reply Miranda @ Miranda Writes Blog November 25, 2014 at 2:18 pm

    Admittedly, my first reaction to this was anger, perhaps mixed with disappointment. The word ‘millennial’ has practically become synonymous with ‘entitled” and as someone who was born into this cohort, I don’t like being ‘lumped in’ with everyone else who is ‘sucking Mom and Dad dry’. Because my individual situation is so vastly different than what many of my peers have experienced, I have difficulty wrapping my mind around the figures you’ve described above. Perhaps I would be in the same boat had I access to the same parental cushion to land on when trying to leave the nest. I do think that some credit should be paid to the economy/debt crisis/etc when handing out blame, and certainly the cohort that raised us is partially responsible, but I do feel that the lion’s share of the finger pointing is best placed on us, the millennial’s ourselves, for our current situation. If for no other reason than the fact that nothing can be done to change who are parents are, and the economy is a beast not easily bent to the will of its master. If we want to be able to change anything, emerge from an economic malaise, and reject the enabling that raised us, we have to look first at ourselves and not to those external factors that are so very far out of our control. This isn’t to discount the fact that every head that talks has told us from the moment we were willing to listen that our generation is the ‘worst’ generation to exist. We certainly have had more than our fair share of criticism before we’ve actually stepped into the ring to do any ‘fighting’. I think our biggest mistake as a generation has been that we’ve listened too closely to that never-ending voice that has told us for so long how much we, for lack of a better word, suck. I believe that the collective ‘we’ have bought into the idea that we have received the wrong end of the proverbial stick and are somehow doomed to accept our current and future circumstances. Yes, many of us were emerging into adulthood when the economy took a nosedive, and the education/job/career path game changed very, very quickly, but the one thing I have heard very little spoken about when discussing the effect our generation will have, is the fact that we are the first generation to receive our ‘grade’ in real-time. I think this has been both our biggest challenge and will be our biggest opportunity. The world began to study The Boomers the moment they were born, but they themselves weren’t subject to the endlessness and immediacy that came with our information/communication/technology saturated world. We inherited a different landscape, alright. A very different landscape indeed. I don’t think they (The Boomers) were as concerned with what the world thought of them, partially because they didn’t entirely know what they world thought of them, at least not to the extent that we are subject to today. I think our solution is a simple one. Difficult, but simple. We have to stop asking ourselves what everyone else thinks of us and start asking what we think of ourselves? Do we want to be known as The Entitled Ones? Are we okay with the fact that we’ve allowed our parents, sandwiched between caring for both their parents and their children, to continue to carry some of our load? Are we proud of our reputation, or our depiction? I hope the answers to these questions are ‘no’, but more importantly, I hope we are the ones who answer them and that we stop letting the world answer for us.

    This was a long and lengthy response (shocker), and I’m sure that for every argument I made, there is a reasonable and valid counter-argument, but this is how I see it now, in this moment. Sure, there are plenty of practical and applicable things we should be doing: educating ourselves on the historical context of our place within society, informing ourselves of our options/rights as a population that has the (hard-fought and not-so-easily won) privilege to elect our governing body, arming ourselves with the skills and tools most necessary to live in the world we will inherit. These things are are important, surely, but first and foremost, we have to make the decision to wake up and try a little harder. We’re the first generation to have a mirror shoved in our faces and before we start taking selfies and adding filters, we need to take a good long look at what we see…

    This got way more cerebral than I had anticipated. I’m off to find a good cat video to occupy my millennial attention span. 😉

    • Reply Joanna December 10, 2014 at 12:23 am

      Agree. With all of it. I think our generation is working pretty darn hard, from what I can see. We were handed a crap economy to start our careers in, and I think many of us have made the most of it. I like your attitude, though… no matter what we were handed, it’s our responsibility to try a little harder and be responsible for ourselves. Well said.

  • Reply Bankonome November 27, 2014 at 6:00 am

    Financial help from parents can be great, especially for the younger generation if they are trying to save money or live debt free. But parents should be cautious about enabling bad spending habits or creating a feeling of entitlement amongst their children. Helping children, family members, or anyone for that matter should be set up like a smart welfare program. First, before you can help anyone else, you must be financially stable. Then you can think about others. When you think about helping others financially, it is wise to think about not just giving them a fish, but teaching them how to fish. Of course you will have to sometimes throw the first few fish at them when they are in survival mode, but then be sure and teach them how to fish. Otherwise, we may see we have created leaches and eventually they may draw the life out of us.

  • Reply O December 2, 2014 at 8:03 am

    My parents are retired, have over a million in retirement funds and live within their means in a house that is also valued at close to a million (they are thinking of downsizing soon). They don’t have to give us money, but since my husband and I are both pretty minimalist and both had significant student loan debt, my parents figured it was the most meaningful thing they could give us for Christmas or birthdays. Thanks to my parents generosity we’ve paid all of my loans down ($80K when I graduated 4 years ago), probably putting us at least 2-3 years ahead of our pay-ahead schedule, and we now have just my husband’s loans, which we should be able to pay off within a year. My husband was uncomfortable with these random generous gifts when we first got married, but the logic has grown on him and he realizes my parents are still living within their means (unlike his parents, who have some investments but still have a mortgage and much less total net worth). We also had a very inexpensive wedding which we paid most of – when I hear what some people’s parents paid I realize we’ve gotten about the same in these other gifts spread out over many years from my parents. Right when I graduated undergrad 10 years ago, my father sat me down and told me he’d rather not have me pay estate taxes on any of his wealth that I inherit, and he’d like to give me whatever he could within the tax code each year (right now I think its $13k per parent, so $26k per kid per year – and no, we’ve never gotten anything like a $26K check). I went back to school right after the 2008 crash and my parents at the time were too nervous about lost assets to help me pay for schooling, so I took on loans. Since they were able to pay for all of my undergrad, I think they might have felt a little guilty at seeing how much the bill ended up costing (and believe me, loans have made me think twice about any more schooling). I realize we (and they) are lucky, and we certainly don’t need their help – we coordinate all our own billpay and if they give us money it’s not earmarked toward anything. I’d ask the posters above whose pride has been hurt by random checks for cross-country flight or whatever to be honest with their parents about their feelings, but realize that if their parents are financially solvent ($60K in retirement at 53? NOT SOLVENT, oy!), t0 consider the cold logic of taking the money now and not paying taxes on it later. If you really don’t need it (and your parents really do need it) that’s one thing, but I’m betting in your 20s or 30s it could at least go in your IRA or to pay down your mortgage early – and your 50 year old self will have a small amount of relief from the tax burden of an inheritance along with a fluffier net worth.

    • Reply Joanna December 10, 2014 at 12:18 am

      Thanks for sharing your insight! I think it’s great what your parents are doing. And I think you hit the nail on the head… if your parents can afford it and if it’s something that could really help you get ahead, great. Very cool they’ve been able to help you guys so much!

  • Reply Beth December 15, 2014 at 8:44 pm

    Personally, I think that many children take advantage of their parent’s generosity…..but I can also see how tempting it would be to just give in to it. My parents have always been very generous to myself and my sister. While I took out student loans for my undergrad, my parents paid for half of my masters (with me paying the other half as I went so I didn’t have to take out more student loans). Also, in that last semester of my masters where I had to do an unpaid full-time internship, I moved back home because I’d have no income for about five months. Then I couldn’t get a job in the field I wanted, so I ended up staying an extra six months, while doing temp work. But I only gave myself six months and then I found a job outside my field just so I could get out of my parents house. I felt bad staying there rent free for almost a year and couldn’t do it anymore – I felt like a sponge! My parents would have happily let me stay there longer, I just couldn’t do it. Previous to me moving back for about a year, I had paid my own way after my bachelors and since then I’ve paid my own way…well except for my cell phone bill. It’s only about 30 bucks on the family plan, so my mother keeps telling me it’s not worth going off (see, it can be very easy to give in).

    Honestly, it would be nice to just soak it all up and have no guilt, but I would have guilt if I just let them pay for everything and I certainly would be feeling the guilt if I had stayed any longer rent free at their house. There comes a point where you just have to grow up and start paying your own way, because that is what being an adult is all about.

    P.S. – I LOVE your blog, it’s my favorite :)

    • Reply Joanna January 10, 2015 at 9:12 pm

      Sorry for the delayed response… we’re still trying to catch up after the holidays and move! Thanks for your kind words, and it sounds like you’ve found a great balance that’s allowed you to develop a great work ethic of your own. Good work.

  • Reply Edster April 9, 2015 at 9:14 pm

    I read an interesting article that started something like:

    “When I graduated from college, I moved to California. I made $40K a year and bought an $80K house. Now, my daughter just graduated from college here and now makes…$40K a year and our house is now worth $400K.”

    Wealth is kind of going away in our society. Even my great grandparents (uneducated) amassed a serious amount of ranch land in north Texas. Try that now! I have buddies with master’s degrees and work for non-profits barely paying the bills. My other grandparents profitted off the oil boom and retired early. Again…try that now!

    So…I almost feel it is a duty for the last generation to help the current as much as they can. Both my parents had early inheritances. However, my brother and I worked for every penny we had. Strange world.

    • Reply Johnny May 10, 2015 at 8:27 am

      There is definitely an increasing widening occurring in wealth classes which doesn’t help upward mobility. Even though we’re not part of the current aging generations, we, likewise, feel a sort of responsibility to help position our children for financial success. That might look different than a lot of people, but it still falls like that burden or opportunity (whichever way you look at it) falls on us.

  • Reply Sam Lister August 14, 2015 at 7:58 pm

    Well I THINK that everyone should mind their own business! It is not the child’s fault if they were born on this very cold hearted world. It is up to the parents to support and help their children until death. Of course an adult should have ambition, and a job for their own progress in life, but not under anyone else terms but themselves. I am 28 years old. I’ve been in depression medically diagnose due to bullying at work by backstabbing women. Women can be very cruel often. My parents have been paying for my clothes, school and handing me money when I needed it. On my birthday, they give me money as gifts. They don’t mind and I don’t mind. I have friends who used to tell me that they are proud to have left their homes to be independant, but they are struggling with their lives, not being able to travel and pay money to have fun during their young years. I can travel, I can have my fun at the same time as helping my parents, recovering from my depression and taking things slowly until I have enough money to buy myself a house. I stopped having remorse because like my psychiatrist told me : The problem with people is that they often envy and judge easily others who are living better than them. I help my parents, I respect them and pay very low rent. They love me as their daughter and don’t care if some are ”independat” I know couples who are both financially stable with houses and still ask their parents to pay for their wedding.

    I am just staying home with my parents until I can afford to move in a decent house and yes ; NOT make my life difficult. I don’t care if someone here tells me that I am lazy or cheap. You don’t know anything about me and to each their own. You don’t have any rights to judge adult children like me and should live with the mind that every situation is different, nothing is good, nothing is bad. It’s 50/50. I am happy not to have to pay for my clothes, may food, my electricity. I just gotta pay rent while taking care of my health, body, mind and this way I have less stress to start me in having my own house. BTW..MOST people have their house through stress and parent’s help so don’t tell me I am bad because choosing the hard difficult life is masochist. It teaches what? To be independant? So what? You’ll end up stressed out, old inside like the old timers back in the days who had no choice but to work hard. I can stay with my parents, enjoy their company and help while slowly saving money for my spa treatments, playing video games, watching my favorite tv shows and affording what I like. I even have my own storage room to accumulate all the furnitures I buy myself with my parent’s money and sometimes my own until I can afford and get my house. NOTHING wrong with that. I deserve as a human being to be treated and treat myself with high luxury and respect. I did not choose to be on Earth. My parents chose that for me, so they should take care of me until I die since they are the ones who gave me life on a difficult society that is very fucked up. They agree with me and I help them in return and my friends envy me a lot. Some judge, but if they judge or get annoyed at me it is SURELY because they know I got what they would like : A happy easy life.

  • Reply JKN September 1, 2015 at 12:16 am

    My parents are getting pretty old, and are downsizing. They are now offering to help out a little more now rather then pass it with estate tax.

    If you die and pass the inheritance you get taxed. Funny how they tax you your entire life and even when you die.

    Estate tax is just like handing away money the family could use. Just don’t want to gift to much…So they are now offering to help with more larger bills (house/car).
    http://www.carolinafep.com/faqs/what-is-an-estate-tax-how-much-can-i-leave-without-being-subject-to-estate-tax.cfm

    I’m 32, dual bachelors degrees, and make 90-100K in Texas.

    I remain on the family cell phone plan which is awesome I must admit. If I do accept the money I will increase my savings rate to 33-50% in my 401K.

    Hope this gives somebody some insight.

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  • Reply Matt Wisdom March 13, 2016 at 3:14 am

    I have never been help money wise as an adult But i have help them out as adults .my mother couldnt afford to which was fine with me but my dad could but would rather spend it on my step brother and sister who were alot older than me. and i have always been made to make my own way in life where they have always been help.it has made work hard for things in life which is good but also hate my father who would rather help someone elses kids rather than his own blood.

    • Reply Kylie February 16, 2017 at 7:11 am

      Wow! Like the same story here except my siblings are younger by a couple years. My father even gave his step daughter a car, plus both live at home. I asked him to buy me a phone battery ($25) as I need it for work and it was like a huge issue, I’ve been financially independent a long time and rarely ask for help but due injury for my husband and a few emergencies our savings was drained. It sure does feel painful to have your father choose his step children over his own blood. :(

  • Reply Matt Wisdom March 13, 2016 at 3:44 am

    Also my car has broken down i bike to work and am struggling to get ahead yet my dad has not afford to give my a loan abecause he says he dosnt have enuf money yet hes just sold his chev for 20 grand and is going on holiday with my step brother his other car a 47 master was pasted down from my grandfather and was ment to be in the family yet he is also selling that to move house my sister wants nothing to do with because of this and now im the same way

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