Millions of Americans are finding themselves in a bit of a quandary.  Years ago, they began designing a retirement plan in order to secure their future.  They chose strong retirement accounts, socked away a sizable sum of money, and didn’t overspend.  But even so, their retirement portfolio isn’t what they thought it would be.

The Family Banker
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Of course, there could be a number of reasons for this.  But for many, the reason is very simple: children.  Of course, the problem isn’t the fact that people had rasied children. No, this issue involves children that are well into adulthood.  The truth is, many Americans are finding themselves taking care of their kids far past the point they envisioned, and their retirement is being harmed because of it.
Recent Survey Shows Disturbing Trends
 
The recent Money Across Generations II survey, conducted by Ameriprise, aimed to discover where investor’s money was going, and what they found was both encouraging and disheartening.  The encouraging part is pretty simple to understand.  People love their families.  They want to take care of them no matter what.  After all, how many of us have given money to an adult relative in need, or gone above and beyond what would be considered common courtesy for the simple fact that we are related to them?
Unfortunately, this assistance can go too far.  More than half of those who took part in the study admitted that they had allowed their adult children to move back in with them and live rent-free.  Think about that for a moment: half.  While some think this will never happen to them, the truth is a number of people are one financial crisis away from granting their adult children the same opportunity.
The problem with this, of course, is the fact that many parents are damaging their own finances for the sake of their adult children.  Many parents are not stopping at simply a place to stay.  They are paying off their adult kids’ credit card debt and student loans, and some are even providing money for meals, car payments, medical bills, and various other needs.  While assisting loved ones sounds commendable, retirees should be aware that sacrificing their own retirement is a dangerous game to play.
The Numbers are Depressing and Getting Worse
The truth is, those approaching retirement have enough to worry about without bringing the needs of their adult children into the mix.  When the first Money Across Generations survey was conducted in 2007, it found that 44% of baby boomers were putting money away for their retirement.  But the new survey demonstrated that only 24% were currently doing the same.  This drop is alarming, to say the least.  In addition, 24% also said that they were simply attempting to maintain what savings they have.  The needs of your adult children notwithstanding, these numbers are reflective of a society that doesn’t appreciate the negative effects they will feel from their actions.
Saying no to family can be a difficult thing.  In addition to adult children who need assistance, many people approaching retirement also have an elderly parent to care for.  According to the survey, almost 70% indicated that they planned to put money toward their retirement rather than pay off a child’s credit card.  But more than 50% stated that they would choose to assist a parent with long-term care over their own savings.  Plus, nearly 90% said they didn’t regret their decisions and would do it all over again, if needed.
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