Cheat Sheet: When Is It OK To Help Out The Kids?


Bankroll that MBA? Underwrite a storybook wedding? Check this cheat sheet before you take out the parental checkbook.

No need to be ashamed.

We know that parents often get roped into paying a bill or two for their grown-up kids. (Full confession: I’ve paid more than my share!).

In fact, more than half of parents surveyed admit to having helped out the kids financially within the last 12 months.

But there’s nothing more agonizing for parents – and laden with guilt – than sorting out what endeavors deserve your financial help, and which deserve a firm and principled rebuff.

Wouldn’t it be great to have a handy cheat sheet breaking out what kinds of help are constructive, and what kinds are enabling and destructive?

Now you’ve got one.

Author Stephen Perrine shared the basics of “The Bank of Mom and Dad” with AARP Magazine.

When it’s OK to help …

Here’s what earned AARP’s ‘thumbs-up’ for meriting a parental helping hand:

  • Helping kids with a down payment for their first home
  • Leasing the first apartment
  • Fixing the car so they can get to work
  • Making a clean break in a divorce

… And when it probably isn’t a good idea

Getting a definite ‘thumbs down’ from AARP:

  • Paying for grad school (making your child take out loans gives them “skin in the game” say experts)
  • Starting a new business (make your child test the merit of his or her idea in the marketplace first)
  • Paying for an over-the-top “fairy-tale” wedding (in fact, weddings costing over $20,000 are much more likely to end in divorce).


About Mari Adam

Mari Adam, Certified Financial Planner™ has been helping individuals and families chart their financial futures for over twenty-five years. Have a question about your financial situation? Ask Mari!


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