It can be challenging when your adult child continually asks to borrow money. As a parent, you want to help your children succeed, but endless handouts can enable poor money management habits. Getting to the root of their requests can help you find a solution.
Reasons An Adult Child May Ask For Money
There are a few common reasons an adult child leans on their parents for financial assistance:
If your child faces an unplanned expense like medical bills, car repairs, or job loss, they may ask you for temporary help making ends meet. These situations don’t necessarily indicate poor money management.
Lifestyle Beyond Their Means
If your child overspends regularly on dining out, entertainment, clothes, or an expensive apartment, they may turn to you when they run short. Ongoing help can reinforce unrealistic spending.
Poor Money Management Skills
Some adult children lack basic budgeting abilities and struggle to align expenses with income. Without guidance, they may routinely depend on family bailouts.
Overreliance on Credit
Excessive debt can cause constant cash flow problems. If your child relies heavily on credit cards or loans for everyday expenses, money requests may be habitual.
Have an Open Conversation
Before providing more money, have an open and compassionate talk to get to the root of the requests. Here are some tips for the discussion:
- Ask questions – Inquire about their exact needs and why they’re short on cash. Do they have an income problem or a spending problem? Is it an emergency or chronic issue?
- Review their budget – Look at their monthly income versus expenses. Help identify areas where they may be overspending or relying on credit. Guide them to balance spending.
- Discuss money management – If poor skills are an issue, recommend resources to learn budgeting basics. Help them build their financial knowledge.
- Agree on boundaries – Explain what requests you’re willing and able to assist with, and define what enablement looks like. Stress that they need to take control of their finances.
Set Healthy Boundaries Around Giving
Based on their needs and your means, decide when and how much support to provide. Here are some parameters to consider:
- Emergency help only – Only assist with essential expenses like medical bills, not day-to-day costs.
- Loan, not gift – Structure helps as a loan to be repaid, not an endless handout. Outline repayment terms.
- Manageable amount – Lend an amount that won’t overly hurt your own finances. Start small if needed.
- One-time bailout – Present help as a one-time relief option, not an ongoing solution.
- Conditions – Require they address core issues, like meeting with a financial counselor or adjusting spending habits.
Offer Guidance, Not Just Money
While temporary help in a crisis can be warranted, the priority should be guiding your child to build financial independence.
- Recommend counseling – Suggest they meet with a non-profit credit counselor or financial advisor to correct poor money management.
- Share educational resources – Send budgeting apps, books, or online courses to boost their financial skills.
- Discuss career options – Look at ways to increase income if it’s insufficient. Offer to review their resume or connect them to job openings.
- Cheer them on – Provide encouragement as they work to take control of their finances and stop relying on family help.
Fostering Financial Independence in Your Adult Child
The goal as a parent is to raise kids who can stand on their own two feet. With empathy, guidance, and boundaries, you can support your adult child through money struggles while still maintaining their self-reliance.
Signs Your Adult Child Lacks Financial Independence
Notice these behaviors that signal a need for greater financial autonomy:
- Asking for money frequently
- Living beyond their means
- Frivolous spending and shopping habits
- Minimum loan payments only
- No retirement or emergency savings
- Unwillingness to address money issues
Ways to Foster Financial Independence
Here are proactive steps you can take to help motivate more responsible money management:
Set clear boundaries around providing financial help
Make sure strings are attached to any assistance you provide. Outline the amount, repayment terms, and conditions. Stick to emergencies only.
Have honest discussions about their finances
Don’t lecture, but collaborate to understand spending pitfalls and income hurdles. Brainstorm fixes together. Guide, don’t enable.
Introduce money management tools
Share budgeting apps and resources to build their skills. Recommend financial counseling.
Cheer on milestones
Celebrate financial successes like getting out of debt, saving up a buffer fund, or finding a better-paying job.
Share your money experiences
Openly discuss examples from your own financial journey, like career building, budgeting, investing, and retirement planning.
Involve them in your charitable giving
Lead by example with compassion and generosity by involving them in donations to causes you care about.
Encourage work and career development
Support their career growth efforts. Offer to review resumes, practice interviews, and connect them to job opportunities.
When they achieve a financial milestone, send a gift or take them to dinner. Independence deserves recognition!
Have Patience and Maintain the Relationship
Change can take time. Offer guidance and support while letting your child learn money management skills at their own pace.
Don’t let money issues damage your overall relationship. With understanding and boundaries, you can help establish their financial independence for the long run.