A recent survey by personal finance site Savings.com found that nearly half of American parents with adult children continue to provide them with financial support, with an average monthly contribution of $1,442. While parents are most likely to pay for groceries and cell phone plans, over half help pay their children’s rent or mortgage, with an average monthly expense of over $800. The survey, taken in February, found that 45% of parents with adult children provide financial support to at least one grown offspring, with most of the children receiving support being between the ages of 18 and 24. However, over a third were 25 or older, and 1 in 10 was 35 or older.
This is the second year that Savings.com has conducted the survey since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Each survey reached roughly 1,000 parents with adult children. According to Corie Wagner, senior editor of industry research at Savings.com, “There’s just a lot of pressure on younger adults, and they might still be reaching out to their parents for support.” Inflation, lagging wages, rising interest rates, surging housing costs, and student loan debt have made it difficult for young adults to become financially independent in recent years.
However, parents who cover rent and car payments for adult children risk shortchanging their own retirement plans. Among surveyed parents who support adult children, three-quarters reported stress about their ability to live comfortably in retirement. On average, working parents in the survey reported saving $635 in monthly retirement contributions, far less than they spent on their adult children.
While the pandemic brought a surge in multigenerational households, the idea of parents and grown children living together is not new. In the first decades of the 1900s, more than two-fifths of adults under 30 lived with their parents, often on family farms, according to Pew Research data. However, the Savings.com survey shows parents helping grown children with a host of expenses, from health insurance and student loans to credit card payments and discretionary spending. Christine Percheski, a sociologist at Northwestern University, said, “Is the economic support that you’re providing your child helping position them for a better future? Or is it enabling them to delay taking on adult responsibility?”
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