Dear Ms. Plaid:
I love my children, but they are now adults, ages 28 and 26 respectively. I have had to help both of my children financially from time to time with their bills, but at the same time I’m working on building my own retirement. How can I lovingly approach this with my children?
– Mamma is running out of Money
Money and family relationships, oh the complexity. This is one of the most difficult things to tackle because money and relationships are so emotional. From a practical standpoint, it’s easy; just cut them off. From a real perspective, it is so much more. The good thing is that you realize it is an issue and you want to approach it from a loving viewpoint.
Prepare for the Conversation
Step back and evaluate your reason for bringing this up now.
- Has the situation changed?
- Did you meet with your advisor and realize you are not where you want to be financially?
- Why do you believe the time is now for addressing this?
It doesn’t matter the reason, but determine why this is driving you now versus one year ago. It could be you want your children to grow up to be financially independent.
Develop a Plan
Prepare talking points for the conversation like you are preparing for a business meeting. Propose a plan to your children that is a phased approach. For example,
- Right now, I help you with your $400 per month car payment. For the next four months, I will help you with $200 of the payment and at the end of the four months it will be important you are able to pay this yourself.
- It has been great that you have lived here during your time of transition. Over the next six months we need to create a plan that you can move out on your own.
Create a list of questions or comments you can expect from your adult children and prepare an answer for each one. Be willing to be transparent. Share you own financial perspective and lessons you have learned throughout your life.
I always recommend the book Boundaries. This books gives advice on setting limits with loved ones, guidance on feeling guilty about setting boundaries and examples of dialogue. Sometimes tough love is needed and I realize that is different with adult children because they get to determine if they maintain a relationship with you versus children that live and you fully support.
By creating a runway to full independence and clear exit strategy you are developing a plan for shared accountability. Money and relationships can be overburdened with emotions, but by being prepared you can have the best conversation possible.
Here are few articles I found interesting on this topic:
Let us know how it goes.