Adult child sounds like an oxymoron. But if you’re a parent of a grown-up asking for a handout, you understand how these two words merge perfectly. Such a request for money immediately stimulates a maternal/paternal financial hormone that causes you to reach into your wallet.
This urge to help your adult child spans everything from paying for cell phones and groceries to allowing grown kids to live with you. According to a 2016 report by the Pew Research Center, more young adults live with their parents than with partners.
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The older you and your kids get, though, the more likely it is that the specter of your retirement years will wage a battle with this urge to help—for good reason. So what’s a concerned parent to do?
Try these 10 ideas for helping your adult child financially without spending a dime.
Provide A Basic Financial Tutorial
You might be surprised at how little your kid knows about the basics of personal finance. Schools teach students how to calculate the square root of numbers in their sleep, but many of them don’t know much about the exponential power of compound interest or how to open an IRA. Even if your child seems to know his or her way around a 401(k), it doesn’t hurt to bring up some finance basics and see where the conversation goes.
Let Your Kid Move-In—But Charge Rent
Does your child have a $300 deficit every month that you’ve been financing? Charge $500 less than would be paid for rent and insist that the $200 surplus is saved for “moving out.” Give a deadline for moving out. The goal is not to offer a Hilton experience. You want to ease financial burdens for a limited time in order to facilitate your kid getting on his feet, not making it so he never wants to leave.
Have Your Kid Work It Off
You work for the money that you give your adult child, so it’s only fair that she works for any handouts. Options include repair jobs around the house, yard work, and running errands.
Offer Career Building Assistance
A better paying job will no doubt help your kid live a financially independent life. Do what you can to help her get a better paying job. Offer resume writing assistance and suggest that she join an organization like Toastmasters, which helps with public speaking and presentation skills. Also, ask your network of friends and family if they know of any job openings. One key introduction can mean that your daughter finds the well-paying position of your dreams.
Share Your Struggles To Succeed
Once an adult child sees how difficult it can be to navigate the financial world, chances are he’ll be all ears when you reveal your early financial days and how you managed to make ends meet and eventually accumulate savings and possessions like your vehicles and home. Emphasize while sharing this advice that it’s a long, slow process, and everyone experiences bumps and setbacks along the way.
Admit Your Biggest Money Mistakes
While you’re sharing your financial journey, also throw in a story or two about your worst financial decisions and how you paid for them dearly. Real examples that are close to what your kid is experiencing now are particularly effective. Of course, the point is to share these financial disasters so that your offspring hopefully doesn’t make the same mistake.
Suggest Automatic Savings
Show your adult kid the exponential power of saving through examples you find online or even your own experience. When you tell your kid the money in your IRA or 401(k) started out as a seemingly insignificant deposit, that information can be an eye-opening experience. Pair this lesson with offering to put $25-$50 into a savings account, if your child sets up an automatic savings plan.
Share Helpful Oline Financial Resources
A wide variety of helpful and educational financial sites (like this one!) are simply a click away. Share with your kid the wide variety of sites that offer tips for budgeting, spending, saving and building credit. While you’re at it, include the many apps that make it easy for young people to organize their finances.
Offer Student Loan Advice
Considering the statistics when it comes to the crippling $1.2 trillion student loan debt, owing Uncle Sam for college might be the reason your kid has his hand out. Share the various ways to lower student loan monthly payments.
Steer Your Kid Towards The Best Credit Card Options
While it might be a scary thought for your financially struggling adult child to have a credit card, it is a good idea to build credit and learn how to handle it wisely. That being said, you don’t want your kid to go for the first, most likely bad, credit card offer. Intervene and offer suggestions on better credit card options, as well as tips for opening a new card and transferring any balances.
Yes, a financial handout for your adult child would be appreciated—for about a minute. These priceless gifts about responsibly handling finances are sure to resonate with your adult kids for years to come.
Julie Bawden-Davis is a widely published journalist specializing in personal finance and small business. She has written 10 books and more than 2,500 articles for a wide variety of national and international publications, including Parade.com, where she has a weekly column. In addition to contributing to SuperMoney, her work has appeared in publications such as American Express OPEN Forum, The Hartford and Forbes.