Stop Paying Your Adult Child’s Bills
We get it. Parents have a very clear role in life – take care of your kids. And it’s a great honor and a great joy to do so. But as your child ages, you aren’t taking care of them if you are protecting them from the realities of life. Kids need to learn that not everything you attempt, works. Not every job you work at, you love. And you can’t always afford the things you’d like to have. One way to help your child is to stop paying your adult child’s bills.
You wouldn’t keep running behind them as they ride their bike their whole life. Yes, they might fall. But they need to do it on their own. This is no different. Graduate beyond being the answer to their problems. Let them figure life out. It might not look pretty to watch, but you might be surprised at their growth on their own.
Don’t let your happiness be dependent on their daily happiness. Growing up is difficult so your child’s adult life won’t always look like a romantic comedy with laughs and lattes. Life is difficult, but their struggle helps them grow.
You know the science behind the butterfly. If a butterfly doesn’t work at emerging from the chrysalis, it dies. The struggle helps prepare it for flight. Stop paying your adult child’s bills.
Money & Kids
Lots of emotion goes into your relationship and the handling of money. Recognize your feelings of guilt or fear of their failure. We all feel that way on some level! Also, identify ways they are trying to guilt you into funding their lifestyle.
The goal is long-term: raise financially capable kids.
A nationwide trend shows over two-thirds of parents over the age of 50 financially supported a child older than 21 in the last five years. The practice is so common psychologists named this period of extended child dependency “emerging adulthood.”
While the butterfly takes flight, the extended child dependency isn’t quite as pretty to watch.
Where To Start
Start here. Read through this checklist. And then craft a new plan with your spouse. Sit down with your adult child and let them know how much you believe in them. Then communicate lovingly that by a certain date you will stop paying for all or some portion of these items:
- Cell Phone
- Car Insurance
- Car payment
- Student loan
- Credit Cards payments
They are capable. Trust them. Let them be resourceful and figure out how to make it work. At their age, we all did.
An Example of Success
We have a client whose adult child is a teacher. He recently married another teacher. They live on the east coast so housing and life aren’t cheap. But our client told us a few years ago, “I’m resisting the urge to ride in on my parental ‘horse’ and save the day.”
The last time we met with him he shared with us that the last two summers the teachers tried their hand at being entrepreneurs. They started hosting clambakes. And, wait for it, this last summer they made more money in those three months than they do teaching all year.
Had our client assumed they couldn’t do it on their own and gave them a handout, they never would have come up with a side business that blesses them and others. And gives them even more options for their future when their family expands. Plus he would have dug into his retirement causing problems of his own.
Fear of Failure
As parents, we are afraid to let them fail. Or to let them do things that may be really difficult. But kids gain self-esteem when they encounter something difficult and they figure out how to survive. You can’t buy self-esteem – you work for it.
Another gift you give your adult child by requiring them to pay their own way is the beginning of their credit history. A car payment helps them build good credit. Paying off credit cards each month helps build good credit. They won’t be able to borrow much or ever get a house if they have no credit history.
Credit Karma has a great platform to help them monitor their credit score, including free tips on how to improve it. Checking a score doesn’t have any impact on credit, but can make a huge difference in how they view decisions concerning money!
Unless you’ve made a previous arrangement with your college grad their student loans are their student loans.
Paying for their own loans will keep your student’s skin in the game. If they know a fifth-year adds to their bill and not just your bill, they may focus a little harder on years one through four.
There is no need for an angry or negative conversation. Tell them how much you trust them to do well on their own.
If they’ve already graduated and are having trouble making payments, you can look into refinancing their loans. This is a great option to make those intimidating payments a little more manageable. Splash Financial specializes in refinancing student loans, and customers rave about their positive experiences. We think it’s definitely worth a look!
And start earlier with any younger kids. Go over the bills with your teens now so they understand a cell phone bill, a gas bill, or how much computers cost when they are on their own. Do they know how much groceries cost or the price of their jeans?
Any child done with elementary school is more than ready to learn smart money management. And your adult child is ready too.
Learn your kids’ Money Personalities. Some kids will struggle with money management more than others. Find that out now. It’s a great investment in the success of their future.
You can’t start too early! Talk about money regularly with them at 10, 11, and 12 years old.
If you are paying for your adult child now, explain how things will change in the future. Make it a positive conversation. Be optimistic. There is no need for words spoken in anger or disgust. Encourage them. Root for them and be okay with them skinning their knees a little bit.
As parents, we are all doing the best we can. We are certainly not perfect, but we are trying to raise independent children together. Join us. Your kids will thank you someday.
Check out our Ebook, How To Guarantee You’ll Pay Your Child’s Bills, Forever – and get some deeper insight on what you can do to raise financially independent kids.
Taylor & Megan Kovar
The Money Couple