It’s no secret that raising kids is a costly venture, with many parents forking out hundreds of thousands of dollars to ensure their offspring have the best possible upbringing.
But what happens when it’s mum and dad who are in need of a financial helping hand in later life? Do adult children have a responsibility to repay the favour, or should parents ensure they prepare properly for their own retirement?
One grown-up son has revealed his concerns over his ‘careless’ parents’ retirement finances amid fears he and his siblings will be left to foot the bill because of mother’s and father’s failure to save any money for their non-working years, preferring to splash the cash on unnecessary luxuries.
Venting his frustrations on super-popular online forum Reddit, the 31-year-old said his parents, aged 62 and 72, had a poor track record when it came to managing money and asked for advice on how to steer them in a more “constructive” direction before he and his siblings were left with no option but to fund their retirement.
Posting anonymously from what appeared to be the US, he wrote: “They still work to pay bills and barely manage to save. They seem to want to spend on luxuries as if there is no tomorrow and seem to ignore that myself and siblings will end up bearing the expense of their retirement due to their negligence.
“Now they’re planning to buy home furniture for their rented apartment instead of making plans to buy a smaller home and live in it.
“This is worrying me and I don’t know how to draw a line for it. They don’t seem to take it seriously and when you speak to them they tend to try to play their stupid guilt tripping game and seem completely clueless about the disaster impending.
The irritated son added that he is already paying off a car loan for a car for his 72-year-old father. He wrote: “He couldn’t take the loan under his name due to paper work issues. So I agreed to put it under mine with good intentions. I regretted it after he lied and said he’s gonna give me the money for the instalments”.
Now, the poster said, his father was asking for help in obtaining a mortgage, but the son was instead considering cutting off contact all-together to avoid more pleas for money.
It seems that the son may have a point, as the overwhelming majority of Reddit commenters replied with messages of support for the anonymous poster. “You can’t change them, you can only control yourself and you have to stop enabling them,” one commenter advised. “Do not participate in any of their discussions and stop being available for guilt trips.”
Others, meanwhile, offered tales of how they’d handled similar situations, with one user explaining that their mother – who’d always been a stay-at-home parent – had divorced at the age of 60 and acquired a new man who didn’t make enough money to support them both.
“A few years ago, they showed up on my doorstep with a U-Haul and nothing else,” the commenter went on. “Today, he has a job that can’t fully support them. My siblings and I all chip in a set amount, and I control their finances. None of us are ready for them to move in full time yet, we can’t let Mom be homeless, so this is the solution that works for us.”
The US doesn’t have a ‘universal pension’ payment like Australia’s Age Pension, in which all citizens can rely on a minimum income in retirement. Instead, the social security system will pay a pension to those who have paid sufficient contributions over a specific period of time, but the expectation is that retirees will have enough private savings to create a retirement income.