Ground rules on providing grown up children with financial help

By KBJR News 1

February 6, 2014 Updated Feb 6, 2014 at 8:48 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) - Strike up a conversation with a college student and you won't be surprised to find many still rely on their parents.

"They pay for mostly everything, and then our plan is that I'll pay them back once I'm out of school," said Jordan Suhonen, a college junior.

Fast forward to graduation and at last they've landed that first job in the real world leaving parents free of financial obligations.

Not so fast.

Nearly 60 percent of parents in a recent survey by the National Endowment for Financial Education have or are providing their adult children, no longer in college, with some form of financial support.

So how are parents helping?

Of the parents surveyed, 50 percent were providing a place to live, 48 percent said money was given most often to help cover the cost of living.

Help with transportation came in at 41 percent, health insurance at35 percent and spending money in at 29 percent.

The responses as to why are common; concern about a child's well being.

Stay Foster, a single mother with a student at Duluth East High School can relate.

"He's my only son, Foster said. I don't want to spoil him, but I've always been there for him," Foster said.

If you are providing a cushion for your adult child, financial experts at Lutheran Social Service recommend setting ground rules before reaching into your pocketbooks.

"We've seen people take out second mortgage, use up their retirement, use up their emergency funds and even get into debt," Kate Swenson of LSS said.

To avoid money problems, experts say it's best to think about whether you can really afford to help your child.

Examine why your child needs money and if they are making sacrifices. Then consider other ways to help.

Foster says she and her son are already working to establish those ground rules.

He has a job in high school, and even that has been helpful, she said. He sees what it's like to get a pay check and he's a little bit more on his own. "

A plan that could stop a financial crisis before it starts. If you are overwhelmed with piles of debt or unpaid bills, you can talk with a LSS financial counselor and start a debt management plan that s right for you.

Jennifer Walch
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