Are your Retirement Plans at risk?

Forget about the empty nest syndrome, parents now fear the cost of a full nest. Pre-retirees whose kids are moving back home after college or after failed careers or marriages are spending so much on their adult children that some are risking their own financial future. The recession, the challenging job market, and boosting college costs have all led to more college graduates returning to their old bedrooms.

In fact, about twenty-two million US adults aged eighteen to thirty-one are living at home with their parents according to an August 2013 Pew Research Center report. This means about 36% percent of this age group is living at home with their parents; the highest level in four decades. The amount Americans spend on their adult children goes way beyond the price of putting a roof over their heads and extra utility and grocery costs. Many parents are paying for their adult children’s cell phones, car and car insurance, health insurance, prescription medications, and in some cases their clothing and entertainment as well. In addition, many parents are simultaneously paying back loans taken out to send their children to college.

This sort of spending on adult children creates a dependence over time and accustoms the children to a lifetime above what they can provide for themselves. And the overspending on the children can be to the detriment of parent’s own retirement plans. This is a tough, tough delicate balance. We want to take care of our kids and provide for their needs. It’s a very tough job market for graduate college students today, but we cannot enable our kids. Especially to the detriment of our own retirement plans, financial independence, and freedom.

I would urge you to try and strike that balance. We should not be paying for our children’s lifestyle. Paying for their needs is one thing, paying for their lifestyle is entirely another. We are enabling them and we are providing them a higher standard of living that they cannot support even once they get a job. You have to balance that appropriately, but it is difficult. I’ve got two daughters, fourteen and nine, and I can’t imagine I would turn away a need that they have, but I do not want to raise my kids to be dependent on other people. I want them to get out there and work hard and do whatever they can to make it work. If they have a need I am going to provide for that need and that need only.