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We’ve all heard about boomerang children who come back to the nest after college—not yet financially independent, and sometimes staying for longer than parents expect. A financial security survey from Bankrate in early April shows that in many cases, those kids are costing parents their retirement savings. Data reveals a trend of financial co-dependence between parents and children—whether through prolonged education, helping with housing costs, or other high expenses.

All this “help” is hurting Generation X and Baby Boomer parents who should be funneling funds into their own retirement accounts instead. According to the survey, 50 percent of respondents in those generational age groups say they have sacrificed or are sacrificing their own retirement savings in order to help their adult children with finances.

What’s the right age to cover one’s bills?
Survey respondents comprised the Silent Generation down to Gen Z. Most felt that 18 or 19 year-olds (and in some cases, 20 year-olds) should take on their own car payments and auto insurance, cell phone bills, and credit card bills. All generations agreed the average age to start paying for one’s own subscription services is 20 years-old.

The higher the bills, the older the age for when individuals should begin paying on their own, such as age 23 for health insurance premiums as well as student loans. Housing costs (rent or mortgage) also had a higher average age overall, at 21 years old.

Time to pay less and save more

As noted above, the April Bankrate survey found that half of Americans are putting their own retirement savings at risk by covering their grown childrens’ expenses; and a March 2019 survey found that more than 20 percent of working Americans aren’t saving any money for retirement, emergencies, or other financial goals. Major barriers to saving included insufficient wage growth and large debt payments. For those covering grown kids’ expenses, the rising cost of a college and post-graduate education (often felt necessary to be more prepared to enter the workforce) is significant here.

But is it worth sacrificing one’s financial future to provide a financial safety net for children who could be working, at least part time—especially as one approaches retirement?

While each family has a personal perspective on this growing trend, no one can dispute the importance of preparing for a comfortable retirement. One way to combat the “boomerang child” syndrome is to self-direct one’s retirement account, and grow tax-advantaged income through investments in alternative assets such as real estate, commodities, precious metals, private equity, unsecured and secured loans, and more.

Take control of your retirement with a self-directed IRA

Self-directed investors not only know and understand certain nontraditional investments, they are comfortable making their own investment decisions. A powerful decision to make is to start controlling your retirement savings through a self-directed IRA.

Even putting a little money into a self-directed IRA every month as you wean your kids off your wallet will enable you to build a more diverse retirement portfolio. Set the example and who knows? Maybe when junior is ready to be on her own, she’ll open a self-directed retirement plan too and start investing in land or energy, a Broadway show, a startup company, or any of the creative ways to boost retirement wealth through self-direction. 

Next Generation makes it easier for you and your adult kids to get started. Our helpful team can answer your questions about self-direction in general or your account in particular. And our newsletter subscription is always available so you can learn more.

Contact Next Generation at NewAccounts@NextGenerationTrust.com or 1.888.857.8058 for assistance. We can’t help you get your kids out of the house but we can help you take more control over your investment returns through self-direction.

Alternatively, you can register for a complimentary educational session with one of our representatives.