My twenty something son, who has a B.A. in anthropology, lives on next to no money. He works shifts at Starbucks and he often doesn’t get 40 hours a week.
But I am in awe of how of how happy he is and how well he lives on so little. He lives in a $500 rent to income bachelor apartment in downtown Ottawa; he bikes everywhere in the summer and uses public transportation in the winter; he is a vegetarian and cooks with dried lentils and beans and he manages to go to the occasional concert and meet his friends for beer.
We don’t give him money because, not because we can’t afford to, but because we we think it is best for him to fend for himself.
Interestingly enough, he thinks this is the best policy too. He likes his independence and knowing that he can take care of his own needs.
And we know that because we don’t give him money, we have no right to tell him what to do or how to live his life. That works for all of us.
Not that we don’t help at all. We pay his hockey league fees, we took him on a family holiday last winter and he makes use of our cottage. He could also use our car if he hadn’t had two accidents that pushed our insurance rate to a level we weren’t willing to pay. But we offer these things to our two older daughters who have jobs consistent with their education.
But not all parents are like us.
Rob Carrick, a personal Finance columnist with the Globe and Mail reported on a recent episode of CBC’s The Current that 17 percent of 30 to 33 year olds get help from their parents with the cost of day to day living expenses. He said that while youth unemployment is typically double the national rate, what is unusual today is that young people can only find temporary, not permanent jobs and that they are underemployed. He also said that 75 percent of 25 to 29 year olds have not found a job in their career.
Parents are not only paying for day to day expenses, The Bank of Mom and Dad is paying for big ticket items.
On the same episode of The Current, Laura Parsons, a mortgage expert at the Bank of Montreal (BMO) and mother of two adult children, reported that she has given each of her children over $12,000 towards a down payment for a house.
“We really wanted to make sure that our children started early enough and of course they were not paying someone else’s mortgage but paying their own,” she said.
She said she was willing to give up travel and house renovations to help her children.
Fully 30 per cent of first time house buyers expect their family to help them with a down payment on a house, according to BMO’s research.
My daughters and their husbands, both of whom have professional jobs, own their own homes. One couple paid the down payment themselves. My other daughter married a fellow who had already bought a house with a loan from his parents. I recognize both daughters and sons-in-law are lucky and perhaps parental help is the only ticket into the housing market for some young adults.
I also know that I would help any of my kids financially if they were genuinely in need. But I think the more they can look after themselves, the happier they are.
Visit the CBC podcast to hear the full interview.
My son gave me his permission to post this article.
What’s your experience? Are you helping your adult children financially? I would love to receive a note from you in the Reply Box below.