15 Legit Reasons To Cut Your Adult Children Off Financially

Are you raising independent adults or permanent dependents?

placing coins into piggy bank
Updated July 18, 2024
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We all want to support our children, even after they've grown up. A 2023 USA Today poll found that 65% of parents with children ages 22-40 provide financial assistance.

However, once your children are established and self-sufficient, taking a step back financially can help everyone get ahead financially.

Here's how to navigate this shift and empower your adult children to thrive independently.

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You’re hurting your retirement saving

Cozine/Adobe Saving money for post-retirement purposes.

If you provide your adult children with just $1,000 a month, that’s $12,000 not going into your retirement savings every year. It’s more than that when you factor in compound interest over time or gains in the stock market.

Even for a short while, this type of ongoing investment hurts your ability to plan for retirement. Your days of having an income will be over, while your children will still be earning money.

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Your children need to learn to be financially independent

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Sometimes, adult kids need to learn financial skills independently, the hard way. If they rely on you for money, they will return to you whenever any hardship occurs.

That limits their ability to plan for themselves and to create a better financial future. You want them to learn to be responsible, financially savvy children.

You may have to work longer

Laura/Adobe senior female artist making jewellery at workshop

The more money you provide to your children, the harder it is for you to retire. This often means you must work into your senior years to meet your financial obligations.

Can you retire early? You may not be able to if you continue to send money to your adult children instead.

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You need to teach them to manage debt

Shisu_ka/Adobe stressed about credit card debt

If you continue to provide financially for your child, bailing them out of every emergency, they will never learn how to manage debt properly.

Over time, this means that your child isn’t able to make wise decisions about using credit cards, keeping balances low, and paying off the entire balance each month. Debt management skills are critical.

You are not able to meet your financial goals

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You may have goals to pay off your mortgage or reduce your overall debt before you retire. Some people want to have a specific amount of money available for travel.

Any of these financial goals you have — and they are good ones — will be much harder to meet if you continue to provide money to your family members.

You may have too much debt

Andrey Popov/Adobe too many credit cards

Retiring with debt is costly, often leaving seniors unable to meet their ongoing needs. Yet, any money you give your adult children could be going to meet those debt-free goals

At the same time, if you don’t have the cash to hand to them or they are using your credit card, that’s creating financial stress on you that doesn’t benefit you in any way.

You may not have the money you need in an emergency

Vitalii Vodolazskyi/Adobe savings in emergency fund jar

If you continue to use your emergency fund to meet the needs of your adult children, you’ll have limited protection for yourself.

If you have a costly emergency, such as a vehicle breakdown, it will be harder for you to find the money you need to meet those costs without turning to other sources, like expensive credit cards.

Your kids may come to expect it

motortion/Adobe father giving pocket money

By consistently providing adult children with money, you’re creating a scenario in which they expect it. Ultimately, they may become ungrateful.

Bailing them out of one incident isn’t a bad thing. Repeating it creates a situation where they expect you to always be there. 

If you say no suddenly, you may rupture your relationship. Let your children know early on that they need to handle their money troubles on their own.

You have a responsibility to educate them

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Another way to look at this ongoing problem is that it's your job, as a parent, to provide your children with the education they need to do well throughout their lives. That includes finances.

If you fail to do that by constantly giving them money, they will always look to someone else for help instead of meeting their own obligations. In short, they won't learn the real value of money.

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You may not know where their money is going

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You may think you're prying if you ask your adult children what they really are spending money on, especially if they have a job. It could be on gas for their car or frivolous spending like eating out or paying friends.

You're only hurting yourself. If you don't know why they need money and what they're using it for, and you hand it out anyway, that's cutting into your quality of life.

You may be holding them back from achieving more

New Africa/Adobe overweight boy with fast food

Needing money means pushing yourself to achieve bigger things, taking on a bigger role at work, or exploring new avenues for earning.

If you continue to meet your children’s financial needs, they may lack the ambition or drive to find ways to earn more, which ultimately hurts them.

You may be encouraging them to be dependent on credit

InsideCreativeHouse/Adobe shopping online with laptop

Another potential risk you take by continuing to fund your child’s financial needs is to give them the belief that they can always buy what they want by turning to credit. Right now, you’re the bank. Later, it may be credit cards.

This means they become more dependent on credit to meet their financial goals. That could hurt them later when you cannot give them anything else.

You may be limiting their drive to invest

SnapVault/Adobe pink piggy bank

The same applies to their ability, willingness, and education in investing. When they learn the value of hard work and money, they may develop financial objectives and be willing to learn about investing.

Young adults who invest early on build wealth faster, which ultimately provides them with better overall financial stability in the long term.

It’s creating a false sense of security

Voyagerix/Adobe tired girl lying on sofa

It feels good to give your children money. The problem is that, eventually, you won’t be able to do so. Continuing to support them now means you’re creating a false sense of security.

You’re not getting the life you want with your significant other

Sanklinarika/Adobe elderly couple watching sunset

Consider this. If you’re letting your adult children live at home for free, you’re not helping them. You may also hurt yourself by limiting your time with a significant other.

How is that hurting your relationships? Is it limiting your quality of life?

Bottom line

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Instead of continuing to provide for your family member, teach them to budget, manage debt, and make money moves that will build a more secure future. 

If they don’t want to help themselves, make it clear that by continuing to accept your support, they’re hurting your financial health. Be transparent and honest. They often need it.

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Author Details

Sandy Baker

Sandy Baker is a has over 17 years of experience in the financial sector. Her experience includes website content, blogs, and social media. She’s worked with companies such as Realtor.com, Bankrate, TransUnion, Equifax, and Consumer Affairs.