How old is too old?
Forty percent of American adults ages 18 to 39 either live at home or have done so recently, according to one poll for the National Endowment for Financial Education. That's alarming, as the findings exclude students and include "kids" up to the age of 39. The same survey found that these adult children are having a financial impact on their parents, too. Of surveyed parents with adult children living at home, 26 percent have taken on debt to support their kids, and 7 percent have delayed retirement.
This begs the question for the 46 percent of parents who think kids should live their own lives at some point: When should you cut the financial cord?
Children should begin earning for themselves at an early age by contributing to household chores and taking on extra tasks to earn cash, says family finance expert Ellie Kay. Make sure children understand their responsibilities, and contributions will increase as they get older.
"If you set a precedent that you will just hand over cash every time kids ask, the problem can exacerbate as adult financial responsibilities and mistakes take over," she says.
David Bakke, a personal finance reporter, says his parents gave him the rule that if he wanted to buy something, he had to earn the money to pay for it. Today, he says it's "one of the best things my parents did for me."
This system also applied to Andrew Schrage, one of Bakke's reporting colleagues. Schrage's parents made him save up for a car as a teen. "Although, they did sell me one of their old cars at a significantly reduced rate and (paid) for my auto insurance into my late teens," he says.
Kay agrees that if a teen wants to drive, he or she should pay for his or her own car. She also thinks teens should be required to pay for a portion of their auto insurance, so they appreciate what it costs.
The entitlement generation
Entitlement is especially prevalent in kids today who did not earn their own way in and have no idea what items cost, Kay says.
"As parents, we owe our children food, clothing, health care and shelter, not fun with friends, designer clothing, cellphones with data plans, a car or a party-school college experience," Kay says. "If kids want those things, they need to earn it for themselves. Otherwise, they feel entitled instead of appreciative."
She emphasizes that when kids work for things, they value them more. And this includes a college education.