First Person: We're OK Giving Our Sons ‘Parental Handouts’ Into Their 20s

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My parents' philosophy was that they would support me until I was 18. After that, I was on my own. With today's economy and the ridiculous costs of college, it's not realistic to expect my teenagers to become financially independent just because they reached the legal age of adulthood. According to a recent article by U.S. News & World Report, a quarter of teens think they will need parental financial support until they are in their mid-20s. The new survey from Junior Achievement USA and Allstate Foundation shows the number of teens that anticipate needing parents' money longer has increased 12 percent compared to two years ago.

Living with relatives

I've noticed a growing number of my sons' friends are either living at home or living with grandparents. My sons are open to the idea of living with their grandfather as he gets older. It's a win-win solution since they can drive him where he needs to go as well as take care of the lawn maintenance. Meanwhile, my sons are able to have a little more independence while saving money on apartment rent. Since my son as an EMT, he can also provide his grandfather with a sense of security if he ever becomes ill. According to another study cited by U.S. News & World Report, the number of people in their 20s living at home has increased by 50 percent in the past 40 years ago.

Recycling our old cars

Recent studies have shown members of the younger generation are delaying car ownership as a rite of passage. Without a doubt, one of our biggest expenses in terms of supporting our older son has revolved around the car. Although he works full time, it's impossible for him to pay the rent, his phone bill and utilities as well as car insurance. If he had to make a car payment, he would starve to death. We have given him our older car whenever we could afford to upgrade. When I was in my early 20s, I was in the same situation. The only difference was that credit card companies back then offered me tens of thousands in credit. I got into massive debt, but would have preferred parental assistance.

Being a helicopter parent

Some experts question whether helicopter parenting is to blame for more young adults living at home. Others speculate parents just haven't helped their teens become financially literate, which is why they depend on "parental handouts." I would beg to differ. My sons know all about Roth IRA accounts, credit scores and mortgage rates. The problem is that they have to spend a lot of money on college in order to get a job that does not pay very well. Even though my son has taken math through Calculus III, he only needs simple math skills to know it just doesn't add up.

My family plans to do our best with the financial situation. My younger son plans to save up as much money as he can while living rent-free at home or with his grandfather. After he gets established in his career, he should have enough money set aside. But we don't have any illusions about when that day will come. He may not be on his own until he is 30.

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