Many Americans in their 50s and 60s are faced with confusing, unsettling times. More and more adult children require financial help across the board. For most households, helping out seems like a no brainer. Others are on the fence while some refuse to do it outright.
No matter your stance on the matter, it’s important to first and foremost understand why we’ve got this crisis on our hands. Trying to solve a problem without diagnosing its inception would be a futile endeavor.
More often than not, financial advisors put the three following issues in the same boat. It’s important to note that each individual’s path is different. Their financial problems could stem from all of the following reasons, just one or a combination of two, so keep that in mind.
Flimsy Job Market
It’s not easy for young adults to find fulfilling jobs that pay well. While we have to admit the job market has seen some positive changes in the past several years, it’s nowhere near perfect. Low pay, high expectations even for entry-level positions and a slew of other requirements make it difficult even for the most hard-working people to get a job.
Applying might seem as easy as ever, what with the internet. The days of knocking on a manager’s office door and handing over a resume are long gone. That also means that more candidates than ever get a spot in the limelight, making the chances of landing a job even more difficult.
And even when young adults get through the door, oftentimes the salary is quite literally not enough to support them. This perpetual need of clinging to anything that comes their way may hinder their ability to aim higher while also restructuring their financial decisions.
Debt is something looming over a very big number of adult children. It might not be easy to understand for us, but times are changing and that’s simply something we have to accept. Let’s look at the numbers to get a better idea.
For college grads under 40, the average total indebtedness has been found to be $137,010. We can dig a little deeper still. Those with a bachelor’s degree have a debt average of $29,400 while those who have completed a master’s program have to handle a debt of around $41,400.
Of note is also the fact that one in ten graduates under the age of 30 is behind on payments by 90 or more.
The Rising Cost of Living
This is something everyone, from all walks of life, can observe. Whether you’re working on maxing out your savings accounts or struggling to pay off debt, you can’t help but notice rising costs wherever you look (left, right and center, actually). Budgeting can only get people so far. At some point, households have to expand their income, so it’s no wonder even adult children turn to their parents for help from time to time.
Are we surprised, then? Considering these three factors, it makes sense that we have to come to difficult decisions regarding the finances of those we love. If your adult child is struggling with all three factors at once, the issue seems to be enormous.
But there are ways you can help that don’t require you to go bankrupt. Hopefully, by following these tips you’ll all come out of the woods together, securing financial independence.
1. Focus on the Financial Problem at Hand
You can’t possibly hope to solve a problem without knowing what it is first. Your first step is to determine what your child’s issue is. Debt? Too much spending? Unreasonable expectations?
Having a candid discussion with them about where their problems stem from could luckily be the only thing you need to do to set them on the right path. It’s not always a given, but even so, it’s worth a try.
Visiting a nonprofit credit counselor should help in having a par of expert eyes look over their finances if debt is their number one enemy. Coming up with a plan on how to tackle it and arranging payments could pull them back from a crisis.
2. Ensure Your Children Are on the Right Path
Becoming financially independent takes time and effort. Nobody can expect to peruse the job market, send a few applications and then be done with it. Sadly, thanks to the first factor mentioned above, candidates have to work harder in order to land a job.
No, we’re not talking about showing up at a business in their best attire with a briefcase full of resumes, nor are we suggesting they should insist on being given a certain job, claiming that it shows resolve.
Signing up on as many job-hunting websites as possible is crucial. Updating their resume, cover letters and everything in between is just as important. You could definitely help with this process.
If they’re putting too much time in their hobbies remind them that they won’t be able to support them for much longer with a steady flow of income. For some, this might be incentive enough to work harder on landing something!
3. Figure out How Much Money You Can Handle
You won’t be doing anyone any favors if you keep reaching in your pocket for your children. Think about it, you have your own finances to worry about, especially when it comes to retirement savings.
If you bring out your check too often, you’ll probably have to turn around later on in life to ask for help in return. It’s a cycle you shouldn’t start with your family as you never know what the future holds for anyone. When you’re in a dire situation, what’s gonna happen if emergency strikes for your children and they’re quite simply unable to help?
Also, don’t go into debt trying to help someone out of the same hole!
4. Offer Help That Isn’t Monetary
There are still things you can do to help that don’t revolve around money changing hands. If you have grandchildren you could offer to babysit. That way, your children can, for a time, forget about expensive daycare costs.
Are they struggling with groceries? Inviting them over for breakfast, lunch or dinner is not only a great way to cut down on costs but it could also provide some much needed time with the family.
If they’re having a hard time landing a job and you have good connections, try to put a good word in for them. A lot of financial advisors claim that networking is a crucial skill for bringing home more money. You could be their ramp to a better, brighter future.
5. It’s a Loan, Not a Gift!
It might seem a little bit cold, but we think that offering a loan instead of a gift would help both you and your child in the long run. The idea is this: you’ll earn back a bit more money if you add a 2% interest rate and you could be teaching them valuable financial lessons along the way.
Some parents have even admitted that they ask for repayments three months after offering the loan. Others use the first paycheck rule: one the first one goes through it’s time to start expecting money back.
6. Don’t Worry about Phone Bills
On a lighter note, don’t worry so much about paying for your kid’s phone bills. The way contracts are structured, you’re probably getting heavy discounts for family plans. Cutting someone off might make you pay more in the long run.
But also, take a look around. Chances are more people than you think are paying for their kids’ phone bills. Financial advisors even claim there’s nothing strange about the practice, they hear about it all the time.
7. Don’t Assume Your Child Knows Everything about Finances
More often than not, this is the one issue that keeps adult children in constant financial peril. It’s not easy to admit they don’t have any idea how credits work, how to tackle debt, how to shop around for the best deals. They might not even know how little they know about the world of banking and budgeting.
You should talk to them about these things. Finding out gaps in knowledge could save you a lot of money and troubles down the line. By learning about a problem, your child will be more likely to avoid it.
So, there you have it. These are tips on how to help your children without going broke. A lot of these might seem obvious, but it’s better to state the obvious than to leave any stone unturned.
The sooner you try these out the faster your children will get back on track, so don’t avoid any of these steps.
For those with experience in the matter, what other tips have you got for the rest of the community?