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Parents strained by jobless kids

It's only natural to help out a child in financial need. But make sure you're not risking your retirement to do so.

By MSN Money Partner Nov 10, 2011 1:42PM

This post comes from Catey Hill at partner site SmartMoney. on MSN MoneyThe recession hit young men harder than any other age group, the Wall Street Journal reported this week, with unemployment rates for male high school grads age 20 to 24 at a whopping 22.4%. But that’s only part of the story: The parents of these 20-somethings often bear the brunt of the cost of their unemployment, as they move back home and depend on mom and dad for money, food and housing.


Some 59% of parents financially support their adult, non-student children (ages 18 to 39), according to a 2011 study by the National Endowment for Financial Education. Nearly half (48%) help their adult kids with living expenses, 41% with transportation costs, and 29% with spending money.


"This is happening more than I've ever seen it," says Benjamin Tobias, the founder of Tobias Financial Advisors in Plantation, Fla.  "There have always been some people who had to help out their children, but lately it's an avalanche."


The problem with this is that a lot of parents are compromising their retirement to help out the kids. The result: "They may have to retire much later or retire without the same lifestyle they’re used to," he says.  In fact, in a new study by ING Direct, 27% of people in their 50s say that their children compromised their ability to save for retirement.


Of course, it's natural to want to help out your kids.  But you need to set limits, Tobias says. Here are his tips on how to do it:


Talk to children about their financial needs. "Sit down with your kids and find out how much money they think they need," he says. Make a list of all of their expenses, from food to entertainment to car payments to student loan bills.  You should also make sure your child understands what a budget is (consider showing him how to use a budgeting site like and how to live on one. Post continues after video.

Help cut down their expenses to a minimum. Look at his or her list of expenses and see where you can make cuts, he says. So for example, if your child has a fancy car, see if he can trade it in for a significantly less expensive one; if your child goes out to dinner with his friends often, let him know this needs to stop.


Only pay for the essentials. Tobias says that parents should only pay for the essentials like food or letting him live under your roof.  "Do not pay for extras like entertainment or vacations," he says.  Paying for something like grad school is risky as well, he says — especially considering your child can get financial aid or loans to foot that bill.


More on SmartMoney and MSN Money:


Nov 10, 2011 3:44PM
I'm in this boat and finally had to say "the bank is closed"  I have been drained of all savings, my car was in disrepair, having to live in a substandard place, having to foot the bill for ALL of one child's food, and helping the other two with basic living expenses.  They kids all seem to take it for granted that "momma" will "fix" things.  I've never been wealthy, worked all their lives, sometimes two jobs while doing all the housework, etc., and other "mom" stuff, however, now they should be taking care of themselves and they don't.  One of them even refuses to schedule his own dental appointment, cut his hair, or even buy new underwear and socks.  I didn't raise them like this....  It's odd for me to figure out as I was living on my own at age 19 and only used Mom and Dad for a few expenses for a couple of years... (back then I didn't know about car insurance, cause Daddy never told me, so he was footing the car insurance bill for a few years and never told me it was a law).  Whatever,.... I expected more from them.
Nov 10, 2011 4:41PM

I, too, am still supporting my 21 year old son.  He's had a few jobs, but can't find full-time employment.  But food and housing and occasional gas money to attend job interviews is where my support ends.  Can't pay for a cell phone - it's shut off.  Can't afford fast food - make due with what's in the pantry.  Want the newest video game - keep looking for a job.  We've drawn some very hard lines and refuse to cross them.  I'll give him a home and make sure he's fed - but his "quality of life" is not my financial burdon to keep.


Especially since my 20 year old daughter (part-time college student) also just recently lost her job.

Nov 10, 2011 8:00PM
My son is 21 and has not yet left home. But I'm ok with that. He is a full time student with top notch grades. I am happy that he is making his opportunity in life to get a jump on his formal education and paying for it himself. He helps with some of the home chores like doing dishes, of course does his own laundry and helps with yard work and shoveling snow in the winter. At my age and with my health issues I am certainly not going to complain about that. I think it's all about how you raise them and the respect that you instill that makes all the difference. He is very dedicated to his education and I believe this will help him to be more successful and hopefully when he does move out he will be able to stand on his own. Also he does not do the partying thing nor does he drink alcohol or smoke. He is very responsible and I am very fortunate.
Nov 10, 2011 8:13PM
I am a 20 year old and I have a one year and I am about to close on a $140,000 house.  These people need to realize that these surveys don't apply to everyone in my generation and quite bad mouthing the whole generation.  Most of my generation does expect to have everything handed to them because that is how their parents raised them.  In some situations were it will take them a while to leave home is understandable.  But sitting at home not working is that persons own fault, not the parents.  Anybody can get a job at Mcdonald's. . . I don't believe on blamming the parents for their children being lazy bums.  You raise your children to be respectful and to be the best that they can be.  You can only do some much.  At 18, they make their own choices and if they f*** up then that is their fault, not the parents.   
Nov 10, 2011 7:56PM
... and who is going to bail out the parents once they're broke? The ingrates who put them there?
Nov 10, 2011 6:57PM
My husband and I have 4 kids between us the two 25 year olds live at home. My stepson is developmentally delayed so he's the last applicant for consideration. It's ignorant to believe that discrimination isn't happening in this country, because I've seen it. But then again, with so many struggling families how can we blame business owners in this economy? Then there's my 25 yo, who broke his neck a few years ago. There's a lot of jobs he can't do. Our parents will be needing our help more in the not so distant future. I am overwhelmed with the idea of being the generation caught between elderly parents who need care and children who need assistance because we traded their future for cheaper prices and more stuff. I just hope we don't live long enough to need anyone, because there will be no one able.
Nov 11, 2011 11:44AM

The blame usually falls on the parents and their generation as well...its turning out that WWII and Baby Boom generations are becoming the most selfish, greedy, entitled pigs than any generation before or since.

actually, from my experience, they are very generous -- but also scared that what they have will not be enough for them and that they will end up falling through the gaps of the various social programs (Social Security, Medicaid, etc) and that their private savings will not leave enough to sustain them.  They don't want to be a burden to their children and grandchildren.  We are a two generation household (and have been three and four depending on circumstances).  We are a family and help each other in times of need,  I truly feel sorry for you that your experience has been such an unhappy one.  I am glad we could make room for my husbands father, and also our son and occasionally HIS son when circumstances warranted it.  I believe in paying it forward...
Nov 10, 2011 10:05PM

no body is to be blamed. both the parents and kids have to work it out. tough times have come. help the kids. all the parents have to help them. in third world countries small houses are shared between kids and parents. there is nothing wrong with it. as parents get old they need their kids around. when good economy comes around they will move till then every parent should help their kids. 

                everyone has houses, they can accommodate the kids. parents should make sure that they help with chores, and keep the expenses low. this tough times with no jobs, no one should leave their kids. they cant find jobs. guide them, that all they need.

                  in third world country poverty keeps every family work together. WE have better things in this country. we should help in everyway and make sure the kids make it. kids are not lazy. they need help. much can be done by guiding them.

Nov 10, 2011 9:17PM
No I own my home.
I have heard the very unintelligent have a tendency to resort to name calling.

Nov 10, 2011 9:03PM
Just as I suspected. Completely selfish.
Nov 10, 2011 5:28PM
Kids today don't want to work. They expect everything handed to them on a silver platter. Kids don't have any respect for anyone, not even themselves. Kids are lazy and don't want to do anything, especially when it's for one of their family. A lot of kids need a swift kick in their asses, but then they have their parents arrested.
Nov 11, 2011 8:17PM

"The blame usually falls on the parents and their generation as well...its turning out that WWII and Baby Boom generations are becoming the most selfish, greedy, entitled pigs than any generation before or since."


HEY, lovingthedoledope,  YOU are the perfect example of an unemployed 20 something that will probably be permanently unemployed your whole life.  You sound like a pathetic, whining, spoiled brat.  You better hope some soocialist agency in the government hires you because no one else will.

Nov 12, 2011 11:53AM
I was raised when families looked out for one another and was taught that less debt the better.I was born in the early 60's and my generation did just the opposite of our parents,where my parents financed their home and paid it off in 20yrs(paid home since 1982)most of my generation was using thier home like an ATM, That caused a financial repercussion they will cripple many to the point of bankruptcy,Thus having to lean on their parents for support. as for me I forclosed mine and is now renting my parents old house.
Nov 13, 2011 4:36PM
This is another entire category unaccounted for in the unemployment figures - recent college grads without a job.
Nov 12, 2011 12:35PM
It's sad to see so  many Americans fighting and blaming each other for all this mess that we are going through, hopefully we can ALL come together and find solutions to all these problems. It's obviously not happening in Washington or, Corporate America.
Nov 10, 2011 6:29PM
I think it's ridiculous that there are all these comments about how lazy and irresponsible the kids are! I'm 20 years old, married with a kid and attending college full time. I had to move my family back in with my single mother in order to survive because my wife has been unable to find a job. I get a good amount of financial aid, but not enough to support all three of us. But I have always worked my **** off when able to so I hate being attacked by people who generalize everything. Don't say kids today if you can't claim to know everybody's situations. People that say that are as rude and naive as the kids they are referring to. Also, I'd like to see hoe many mistakes you've made in the past. Looks like some people need to grow up more than the kids do.
Nov 10, 2011 8:32PM
slipknot7 that sounds like someone with a very selfish attitude. Family is and always should be number 1. My family is a very close knit family. We will always look out for one another in good times and bad. I suppose you are the one that gave my comment below the thumbs down. You are entitled to your own opinion as I am mine. And where in evolution does it say the closest families are the weakest humans. Haven't you ever heard of strength in numbers? Sounds like someone else has much weaker dna.
Nov 10, 2011 7:17PM
You wouldn't have that problem if you didn't have kids in the first place.
Nov 10, 2011 4:59PM

The blame usually falls on the parents and their generation as well...its turning out that WWII and Baby Boom generations are becoming the most selfish, greedy, entitled pigs than any generation before or since.


Case in point...Pensions for the already retired and those who have 'locked in' their pensions which now we are finding unsustainable...yet the decision makers for pension reform are changing the pensions of FUTURE retirees without making any sacrifices ON THIER OWN pensions and retirement benefits...what hypocrites.

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