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Parents in the U.S. collectively spend about $500 billion on their adult children every year, covering costs for everything from housing to cellphones, a recent Merrill Lynch study found.
That’s double the amount these parents save for their own retirements — and a surefire recipe for miserable golden years.
As we note in “8 Mistakes That Can Sabotage Your Retirement“:
“Adult children still have time to pay off college loans and save for retirement. Their parents — in other words, you — are running out of time to save for the golden years ahead.”
This doesn’t mean you must abandon your children, though. It’s possible to help grown kids financially without spending money on them.
Here are several options:
1. Let them use your car
Having a car to get around town is instant freedom. And a car is a great way to get to work.
Don’t give the keys to the kids if they won’t contribute to your car expenses, though. Owning and operating a vehicle costs thousands of dollars a year, as we detail in “Choosing the Wrong Car Can Cost You an Extra $3,400 Annually.”
Charge grown kids a set dollar amount per month or per mile driven to offset wear and tear. Or, ask them to keep the gas tank full so you never have to fill it. That way, it’s a good deal for everyone.
If your kids have kids, offer to baby-sit — especially while your children are working to earn some money of their own.
Even if you charge your kids a little money for your services, you could still save them money. The average baby sitter’s rate is $16.20 per hour, according to Care.com, a website that connects parents with local baby sitters, nannies and other types of caregivers.
Check out Care.com’s baby-sitting rates calculator to get an idea of how much you could charge.
Whether you charge $5 or $10 an hour or baby-sit pro bono, though, the only cost to you is your time. And you’ll be spending it with your grandchildren.
3. Share your cellphone plan
The per-person cost of an individual cellphone plans is generally more than that of a family plan. So, keeping or putting an adult child on your cellphone plan will likely save them money.
Just be sure to make them pay you for their part of the bill — their fair share. You don’t want to be losing money paying an adult child’s cellphone bill.
4. Open up your home
Letting an adult child live in their old bedroom can easily save them hundreds of dollars on rent every month.
It costs money to have another loved one under your roof, though. For example, your electric, water and grocery bills will go up.
So, make boomerang children pay for some things, whether that means picking up the household grocery tab or making a small “rent” payment. Asking a son or daughter to contribute means you won’t lose money.
5. Allow them on your car insurance
Offer to add your kids to or keep them on your car insurance — if they pay their part of the bill.
It will likely be cheaper for them to pay for their share of your policy than to get their own policy. But it won’t cost you money.
6. Allow them on your health insurance
If your medical insurance plan covers dependents, you generally have the option to have your adult children on your plan until they reach age 26, according to Healthcare.gov.
So, allowing them on your health insurance plan and making them pay their share of the cost is another way to help them save on insurance without it costing you.
Plus, you get the peace of mind that comes with knowing your loved ones have medical insurance coverage if anything should happen.
Have you ever tried any of these options? Leave a comment below or share with us on our Facebook page.
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