When Elizabeth’s son asked to borrow some money to settle his credit card debts, she found herself cornered. While she had every intention to help her son, she also feared that what little savings she had left for her retirement would be lost forever. Eventually, Elizabeth decided to tell her son that not only was she going to decline his request for help, she’s also going to stop sending him money. After all, he is a grown man and the problems he is in were created by himself, but when it came to actually communicating her decision to her son, Elizabeth chickened and ended up to just stop responding to her son’s messages.
Elizabeth is just one of the many new and soon-to-be retirees who find it hard is to say “no” to adult children when it comes to denying them money for a business idea, giving them cash to cover past due bills, or financing a big purchase. Because chances are they’re going to keep asking until you go broke or say “no.”
A 2012 study found that 93 per cent of boomers have provided financial support to their adult children and 34 per cent who admit that helping their adult children has slowed down their retirement savings.
Worse, further evidence comes from the National Endowment For Financial Education (NEFE) who reported that in 2011 almost 60 per cent of parents provide some sort of financial support for adult children no longer in school. Financially speaking, 26 per cent of parents have taken on additional debt; 13 per cent have delayed a life event, such as buying a home or taking a vacation; and 7 per cent have delayed retirement.
To help baby boomers deliver the tough news, retirement activist Robert Laura wrote this awkward but clever letter to help your son or daughter see that your decision to ‘cut them off’, isn’t so bad after all. Robert also said that parents need to not only salvage their retirement savings but also teach their adult children an important lesson: to be grateful for what they have and to make the most with what they are given.
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The letter reads:
Sorry for not getting back to you sooner. I know you need some money to cover the bills your roommates stuck you with, and to start that new business. Well, several things have happened since we last spoke.
A few weeks back a young man came to our house and ‘guaranteed’ we’d make a lot of money if we invested with him. We’d never heard of the company he was working for but it seemed reputable, and the ambitious salesman reminded Mum of you.
So, after a couple more meetings, we turned our savings over to him and, since he asked, even allowed him to stay in your old room for what we thought would just be a day or two. It turns out that his parents disowned him because his girlfriend is pregnant and they refuse to get married and go to church.
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We were helping them pay for some of the tests and treatments for the unborn baby, but all that will have to stop now that your Mum and I are in therapy and facing our own challenges. Seems that Mum and Uncle Jerry have been in a relationship for several years and now she wants to move to Florida and live with him.
At the same time we’re getting our DNA tested and suggest you do the same. Your mother says she isn’t sure if you are actually my son. I guess there’s a possibility you might be someone else’s. As you might imagine, all this has been pretty overwhelming and, I hate to admit it, but I have turned to alcohol and pills to help. I’ve tried sobering up but I only feel better after I swallow a couple pills and knock back a few drinks.
Worse yet, I found out today that our new financial guy was not disowned by his parents, and there is no ‘baby on the way’. However, he did use our money to buy a new sports car, which he totaled, and is now going to jail for fraud.
Now that you’re up to date on everything I want to tell you we didn’t really turn our life savings over to a con artist, your mother never slept with Uncle Jerry, and there’s no need for a DNA test to prove you’re our son. But we’re not sending you any more money, either. We just wanted you to see this decision in the proper perspective and to encourage you to count your blessings instead of your concerns.
Dad and Mum
Would you ever write something like this to your kids? How do you feel about helping your children out financially?