Saturday, November 27, 2010

How Do You Help Your Grown Kids Financially Without Hurting Yourself?

Day 221 Mom and DadImage by Happydog via Flickr

When our kids are young they are such darlings that it's hard to say no to them. With to much indulging, we sometimes end up spoiling them. Their impact on our finances are minor. Then comes college and cars, the costs start to rise. Then finally they are gone and the costs go down. Now you put that money toward retirement, savings and paying off the house. Whew. You are done.

But wait, your not off the hook yet. Your grown children are coming to you for money. One wants help with a down payment for a house. Another wants to start a business. Maybe another is going through a divorce and needs money for a lawyer. Ouch.

Remember when I started this post I said how hard it is to say no to your kids?  Your kids need money, some are in trouble and some just need money for their life. How do you help them without hurting your own finances. There are a few things to keep in mind. Is this help they want a need or a want. How will your actions help their life? Maybe by helping them you're really hurting them or enabling them.

Children view their parents in different ways.  Some see Mom and Dad as a bottomless pit of money. They never seem to get it that they should be on their own. Some understand that finances are finite and it's best to leave the parents alone. They know it's time for the parents to not bare the financial responsibility for their grown kids any more. The parents have done more than enough.  

So it's a balancing act to know if you should say yes or no. We can all agree that in an emergency we are not going go let our children down. Keeping in mind that by helping them we are careful to not harm ourselves. It's quite possible we will turn down our children's request in a situation, but may help instead in a non-financial way.

The type of situation is important to the decision of giving help. If my child comes to me for a down payment for a car or or house; I will say it's not an emergency or a necessity. I will tell them as adults they responsible for their own finances  Now if you have the money because you are well off and can afford giving them the money, that's a different situation.

On the other hand if your child is going through a divorce or needs money for an operation, your obliged to help them. But only if you aren't going to harm yourself financially. It goes without saying, staying out of debt is paramount.

These black and white examples show what to do in a non-emotional way. But with your children, it's hard to to keep it that way. Your feelings toward them will weigh on your decision. Bottom line, decide if your help will be a help to them long term or just enable bad behavior.


  1. Your last paragraph says it all.
    One child needed loads of "upfront" help- insurance, car, accident coverage. The other is self sufficient- but we will help him with his first house. We made the decision long ago. We planned for it. Now, we need to give the second one a reasonable budget for a honeymoon or we will all be broke:>)

  2. With your kids it's all relative (haha). With my three grown kids it's a juggling act to weigh the different circumstances in order to make the right decision. There are other ways to help besides money. But usually your kids won't like them.


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