3 in 4 parents help adult kids pay bills, survey reveals

WASHINGTON — For most parents, the cost of their kids doesn’t stop when they reach adulthood.

A CreditCards.com survey says 74 percent of U.S. adults with children 18 and older help them pay their living expenses or debts.

If accurate, that would be 49 million adults living in the U.S. who have yet to fully cut financial ties with their grown-up children.

Of those parents who said they are continuing to help their adult children financially, 84 percent said they’re helping with living expenses, while 70 percent have helped with debt.

“That’s an awful lot of parents who are spending money that isn’t able to go to their own retirement,” CreditCards.com’s Matt Shultz told WTOP.

The most common expenses that parents are helping with are cellphone bills, car repairs and gas, rent, and utilities, according to the survey.

Married people are significantly more likely than divorcees or never-married parents to help grown-up children financially.

Parents in the Northeast are significantly more likely than those in any other region to help their adult kids pay student loans.

If parental help with finances becomes a regular thing or extends longer into adulthood, Shultz says those parents are not doing their children a favor.

“The best gift a parent can give to a child is to teach them how to live within their means, and if you give them too much of a cushion for when things go wrong, they don’t necessarily learn,” he said.

One thing parents are likely to say no to? Their kids’ credit card debt. Only 16 percent of respondents said they’ve helped an adult child pay a credit card bill.

CreditCards.com’s results come from an online survey from Nov. 15 to Nov. 19 and included 1,092 U.S. adults with children aged 18 and older.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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