If we can afford to do it, a number of us are the financial backers of our grown kids. We're not just helping our recent college graduates with rent or a cell phone bill. We're doing the same and more for our kids in their 30s and 40s--kids who are established on their career tracks but moving into the "expensive" part of their lives, the time when they marry, have children, buy homes. (The percent of kids getting help, according to a 2018 report, is more than half adult kids between the ages of 21 and 37.)
The reason, per this NYTimes story: Millennial incomes today are lower than they were for Gen Xers and boomers at the same point in their lives. Many of today's millennials graduated from college into the recession, and that put them behind in terms of salaries and savings. Add to that today's real estate market: In many of the big cities where our grown kids live, the cost of simple housing is out of their affordability range--if not for our help with a down payment assist here or a co-sign there.
Beyond cash outlays, some of us provide services that add up. A recently retired friend of mine babysits her eight month old grandson three days a week. The other grannie sits the other two days so that the mom could go back to work full time. The value--apart from the irreplaceable loving care--is upwards of $25,000 a year.
While our kids may need the help, researchers found they don't feel great about taking it. Accepting help from the bank of mom and dad when you're in your 30s or 40s is evidently "the last taboo of finance that people don’t want to admit."
Shame or not, our largesse gives our kids an edge. While families with means have always helped their children, what’s different today, the Times reports, is that the economy has more extreme gyrations, which tends to flatten wages. That's when family wealth plays an outsize role in helping people get ahead. Those who don't get that parental financial boost are grappling with paying off student-loan debt, which effects their ability to save to buy a house--a key way to financial stability and the building of wealth. (Nationally, homeownership rates are falling for millennials; only two in 10 have a mortgage or home loan.)
A Boston real estate agent who works primarily with first-home buyers told a Times reporter that in the 20 years she's been an agent she has rarely seen anyone in their 30s who did not have family help or an inheritance for their down payment. (In the Boston market, a 20 percent down payment is between $80,000 and $100,000.) In even pricier New York City, a real estate agent estimates that a quarter of his 30-something clients who are buying larger, family-size apartments receive money from their parents, whether it’s in the form of a gift, a low-interest loan or co-purchasing.
It's a good thing we're around for them, as, evidently, more and more of us are.