Topic: Family financial planning

Financial Planning is About Making Your Life Plan a Reality

Often, clients who have just begun working with us are surprised by how our planning process starts. We don’t begin by talking about Pensions, ISA’s, or how much you’re saving. Instead, we begin by talking about you, not your money.

Putting your life before your financial plan.

As Life-Centred Financial Planners, our process begins with understanding your life plan. We start by asking you about your family, your work, your home, your goals, and the things that you value the most.

Our job is to work with you to build a financial plan that will help you make your life plan a reality.

Of course, building wealth that will provide for your family and keep you comfortable today and in retirement is a part of that plan. So is monitoring your investments and assets and doing what we can to maximise your return on investment. But we also believe that maximising your Return on Life is just as important, if not more so. Some people feel like they will never have enough money whilst others, who have learnt to view money as a tool, start to see a whole new world of possibilities open in front of them.

Feeling free.

One of the most important things your money can do for you is provide a sense of freedom. If you don’t feel locked into chasing after the next pound, you’ll start exploring what more you can get out of life rather than just more money.

Feeling free to use your money in ways that fulfil you is going to become extremely important once you retire. After all, you’re going to have to do something with the 40 hours every week you used to spend working! But you’re also going to have to allow yourself to stop focusing on saving and start enjoying the life that your assets can provide.

So, having money and building wealth is a part of the plan. But it’s not THE plan.

The earlier you start thinking about how you can use your money to balance your vocation with vacation, your sense of personal and professional progress with recreation and pleasure, and the demands of supporting your family with achieving your individual goals, the freer you’re going to feel.

And achieving that kind of freedom with your money isn’t just going to help you sleep soundly at night – it’s going to make you feel excited to get out of bed the next morning.

What’s coming next?

So, when does the planning process end?

If you’re like most of the people we work with, never.

Life-Centred Planning isn’t about hitting some number with your savings, investments, and assets. We’re much more concerned about how your life is going than how the markets are performing.

Instead, the kinds of adjustments we’re going to make throughout the life of your plan will be in response to major transitions in your life.

Some transitions we’ll be able to anticipate, like a child going to University, a big family holiday you’ve been planning for, and, for many of you, the actual date of your retirement. Other transitions, like a sudden illness or a big move for work, we’ll help you adjust for as necessary.

In some cases, your life plan might change simply because you want something different out of life. You might start contemplating a career change. You might decide home doesn’t feel like home anymore and start looking for a new house. You might lose yourself in a new hobby and decide to invest some time and money in perfecting it. You might decide it’s time to be your own boss and start your own company.

Planning for and reacting to these moments where your life and your money intersect is what we do best. Come in and talk to us about how Life-Centred Planning can help you get the best life possible with the money you have.

 

Spring Statement 2019

Philip Hammond, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, delivered his Spring Statement 2019 to Parliament on 13 March. Set against continuing uncertainty over Brexit and just hours before MPs were due to vote on whether to exit the EU without a deal, Mr Hammond devoted much of his speech to the possible effects that leaving the European Union could have on the UK’s finances.

The Chancellor announced that the UK economy continues to grow, with wages increasing and unemployment at historic lows, providing a solid foundation on which to build Britain’s economic future.

With borrowing and debt both forecast to be lower in every year than at last year’s Budget, the Chancellor set out further investments in infrastructure, technology, housing, skills and clean growth, so that the UK can capitalise on the post-EU exit opportunities that lie ahead.

The Chancellor also confirmed that the government will hold a Spending Review which will conclude alongside the Budget. This will set departmental budgets, including three-year budgets for resource spending, if an EU exit deal is agreed. Ahead of that, the Chancellor announced extra funding to tackle serious violence and knife crime, with £100 million available to police forces in the worst affected areas in England and Wales.

Keeping your financial plans on track

In our ‘Guide to Spring Statement 2019’ we reveal the key announcements made by the Chancellor. If you would like to review what action you may need to take to keep you, your family and your business on track – or if you have any further questions – please contact us. We look forward to hearing from you.

How to Phase into Retirement and Take It for a Test Drive

There are many reasons why people who could retire are hesitant to do so. Some people think they need to wait until they’re 65 or older. Some are worried about running out of money. Many parents want to keep supporting their children through some major life transition, like university, marriage, or buying a first home.

Maybe the most common reason we see for a retirement delay is people who just can’t imagine their lives without work. That’s understandable. A routine that’s sustained you and your family for 30 or 40 years can be a hard routine to shake.

But retirement doesn’t have to be all or nothing right away. If just thinking about retiring makes you jittery, use these tips to ease into retirement a little at a time.

  1. Talk to your family

Clear, open communication is an essential first step to approaching retirement. Be as honest as possible about what you’re feeling. What worries you about retirement? What excites you? What do you envision your days being like? Where do you want to live? What does your spouse want retirement life to be like?

  1. Talk to your employer

Many companies have established programs to help employees transition into retirement. You might be able to trim back your hours gradually to get an idea of what days without working will be like. You’re also going to want to double-check how any retirement benefits you may have are going to work. Discuss any large outstanding projects with your supervisor. Make a plan to finish what’s important to you so that you can leave your job feeling accomplished.

Self-employed? Give your favourite employee (you) less hours and fewer clients! Update your succession plan and start giving the soon-to-be CEO more of your responsibilities. Make sure you have the absolute best people working for you in key leadership positions so that your company can keep prospering without your daily involvement.

  1. Make a “rough draft” of your retirement schedule 

What are you passionate about? What are some hobbies you’d like to develop into a skilled craft? Do you want to get serious about working the kinks out of your golf swing? Are there household projects, repairs, or upgrades you want to tend to? A crazy idea you kicked around at work you’d like to build into a new company? A part-time job or volunteer position you’d like to take at an organisation that’s important to you? New things you want to try? New places you want to visit? Grandkids you want to see more often?

Try filling out a calendar with some of your answers to these questions. As you start to scale back your work hours, take a few lessons take on some voluntary work. Sign up for a class. Go away for a long weekend. See what appeals to you and what doesn’t.

Remember, you don’t have to get your schedule right the first time! A successful retirement will involve some trial and error. Learn from things you don’t like and make a point to spend more time doing the things you do like.

  1. Review your finances.

This is where we come in!

Once you and your spouse have settled on a shared vision for retirement, we can help you create a financial plan to help ensure you are financially fit for (semi)-retirement. We’ll go through all your sources of income, pensions, savings, and other investments to set out a projection of where your money is coming from and where it’s going.

We can coordinate all aspects of your situation and collaborate with you on the best course of action. You don’t have to face retirement alone and make big decisions without expert guidance.

Coming in and talking to us about your retirement is a great “Step 1” option as well. So, if you are dreaming of those days when work is optional, give us a call and we can help you through this phase of life.

Gifting to Charity

Charities greatly appreciate people’s generosity, as it is vital to the continuance of their works.

During your lifetime you can support your chosen Charities through volunteering your time, donating items for them to sell or, gifting them money. Any gift of money is usually eligible for gift aid in the hands of the charity (essentially the Government adds 20p for every 80p you donate) and income tax relief for the donor at their highest marginal tax rate.

Gifts on death tend to be of a more substantial nature. These gifts, known as a ‘legacy’ are not counted in your estate for inheritance tax (IHT) –reducing the amount of IHT due. If the amount left to Charities is at least 10% of the net estate at the date of death, the IHT rate applying to the residual estate also reduces from 40% to 36%.

This all sounds simple doesn’t it; but in leaving a legacy to Charity, you should be aware that a Charity has a different legal status to a private individual, thus is subject to stringent legislation.

Each charity is the responsibility of its Trustees who have duties to the Charity’s work. In addition to complying with numerous rules and regulations, trustee duties also include ensuring that any funds left are used for the purpose for which they have been given (if applicable) and ensuring that the charity receives full benefit from the donor (i.e. maximum value for estate assets). However, if the legacies have not been carefully thought out, these two responsibilities can cause distress for executors at a difficult emotional time.

Below are two example scenarios that on the face of it seem reasonable, but could cause some distress to executors:

Scenario 1 – “I leave an amount equal to 10% of my net estate to ABC Charity”
Scenario 2 – “I leave £10,000 to DEF Charity to perform XYZ purpose”

Scenario 1 Issue – The Charity Trustees, upon reviewing the Will and estate account feel that certain assets have been undervalued and as such the Charity has not received the full amount as dictated in the Will. This could result in having to obtain further valuations of major assets and distribute further money to the charity instead of the other beneficiaries.

Scenario 2 Issue – DEF Charity do not perform XYZ purpose. In this instance they may not be able to accept the legacy and additional guidance may be required from their regulator, or even the courts – this could be time consuming and / or costly.

When updating your Will, your solicitor should be able to help with solutions to any potential issues like those highlighted above (for example, gifting a set amount and not stating a particular purpose for the money) – thereby allowing your chosen charities to receive the legacies you wish, whilst not causing your executors any additional issues.

Simplicity is the key here.

Warning
This material is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute advice. The information is based upon the authors understanding of the taxation, legislation and regulations at the time of writing. Any level and bases of, and reliefs from taxation are subject to change.

 

 

Looking at the big retirement picture

Considering making pension contributions ahead of the tax year end?

Investing for the future is vital if you want to enjoy a financially secure retirement, and it requires you to look at the big picture. Although pensions can be complicated, we will help you get to grips with the rules if you are considering making contributions ahead of the tax year end. Here are our top pension tax tips.

Annual and lifetime limits

Getting tax relief on pensions means some of your money that would have gone to the Government as tax goes into your pension instead. You can put as much as you want into your pension, but there are annual and lifetime limits on how much tax relief you receive on your pension contributions. Please note that if you are a Scottish taxpayer, the tax relief you will be entitled to will be at the Scottish Rate of Income Tax, which may differ from the rest of the UK.

Provided that you stay within your pension allowances, all pensions give you tax relief at the rate that you have paid on your contributions. For personal pensions, you receive tax relief at the basic rate of 20% inside the pension. That means for every £800 you pay in, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) will top it up to £1,000. If you’re a higher or additional rate taxpayer, you can claim back up to an additional 20% or 25% on top of the 20% basic rate tax relief through your self-assessment tax return.

Benefit from tax relief

For workplace pensions, your employer normally takes your pension contribution direct from your salary before Income Tax so that the contribution is not taxed at source like the rest of your employment income, and therefore the full benefit is received inside your pension immediately. If your employer does not handle your contributions before tax, then these would benefit from tax relief in the same way as for a personal pension contribution.

You’re still entitled to receive basic rate tax relief on pension contributions even if you don’t pay tax. The maximum you can pay into your pension as a non-taxpayer is £2,880 a year, which is equivalent to a £3,600 contribution once you factor in tax relief.

Total amount of contributions

The annual allowance is a limit to the total amount of contributions that can be paid in to defined contribution pension schemes and the total amount of benefits that you can build up in a defined

Financial Decision Making in Later Life

Financial Decision Making in Later Life

The World Health Organization reports that by 2050, 2 billion people (22% of the World’s population) will be age 60 and older, up from 605 million (11% of the population) in 2000. Older adults must make important, and often irreversible, decisions that impact the rest of their lives.

Examples include when to take pension benefits, whether to buy long-term care insurance, how to most efficiently draw down savings and whether to annuitize assets.

Unfortunately, while advances in wealth and medical science have led to rising life expectancies, longer lives create the risks of running out of financial assets sufficient to support a minimally acceptable life style. The longer we keep going then the risk of cognitive impairment increases, which, amongst other things makes us more susceptible to becoming the victim of financial abuse.

Thoughts of retirement can be dreams of being free of job responsibilities and enjoying travel, leisure activity and having fun. We look forward to having time to do the things we didn’t have time to do. Our thoughts usually do not include fear that someone is going to rip us off. Unfortunately, financial abuse does happen, even to the smartest people.

Most of us do not want to face the fact that, over time, we may lose our mental acuity. However, declining mental sharpness is inevitable for many. That makes us more vulnerable. Even if you do not suffer any decline in mental sharpness, there is no guarantee you will be untouched by those seeking to exploit you.

Determined, professional thieves know that many older people have nest eggs that can be stolen. Educated and powerful people can be taken advantage of and manipulated right along with those who lack these advantages. No one is immune.

Carolyn Rosenblatt, who is a well-known American expert and author with extensive experience working with both healthcare and legal issues offers the following checklist of warning signs of cognitive impairment (which can increase the risk of financial abuse):

  • It appears to others you trust that you are no longer able to process simple concepts.
  • You appear to be forgetful, with short-term memory loss.
  • You appear unable to recognise or appreciate the consequences of financial decisions.
  • You make decisions that are inconsistent with your long-held goals, investment philosophy or commitments.
  • You demonstrate erratic behaviour.
  • You refuse to follow appropriate investment advice, which you have generally accepted in the past.
  • You seem to others to be paranoid about someone taking your money or missing funds that are not missing.
  • You lose the ability to understand recently completed financial transactions.
  • You appear in any way to be disoriented, get lost in familiar places, such as finding your way home, or you forget where you are.
  • You forget to groom, bathe or take basic care of your physical needs.

If you (or a loved one) are experiencing these signs, it’s time to seek help. You do not want to wait until after the damage is done.

Rosenblatt also offers the following 10-point smart retirees’ checklist that generally covers many of the bases of how to help your family and you be best prepared for things you need to manage in this phase of life and avoid abuse. The bottom line here is transparency and open communication.

1. Decide with whom you want to communicate about your future. Set a date and get together.
2. Have a signed and registered lasting power of attorney in place to cover finances.
3. Have a signed and registered lasting power of attorney to cover health and care decisions.
4. Make a list of all bank accounts, investment records and financial planning you have done, and provide contact information.
5. Provide written permission to your loved ones to talk with your solicitor, accountant and financial planner.
6. Make a list of all insurance policies, including life, disability, health, property and anything else you own that will protect your heirs.
7. Make a copy of your mortgage statement, any other loans, financial statements and bank statements. Keep them in one place. Update when changes are made.
8. List your doctors, care providers and medications. Give written permission for your loved ones to speak with your doctors.
9. Put in writing your wishes for burial or disposition of your remains.
10. Update your will and/or trust with a local solicitor. Laws change and documents need to be up-to-date.

Have a family meeting to share and explain items 2 to 10 to your loved ones.  Carpenter Rees can provide a list as to what should be included here to enable you to prepare a folder of relevant documents and contact details.

If you or your family don’t have such a plan already in place, maybe treat this as a timely reminder to act.

 

Did You Inherit Your Beliefs About Money From Your Parents?

Parents know that children hear, see, and pick up on everything that is going on with the adults in their lives. And when you were a child, you were no different.

Many of the attitudes we have about money were formed at a very early age as we absorbed how our own parents dealt with their finances. Some of these beliefs, such as a commitment to disciplined saving, are positive. Others, like skepticism about the stock market, can be more harmful than helpful as we try to build wealth in our own lives.

Answering these four key questions can help you look at your financial upbringing with a fresh perspective. When you’re done, think about which money beliefs you want to pass on to your own kids, and which might be preventing you from living the best life possible with the money you have.

1. What was money like growing up?

Your childhood experiences of money are a composite of details both big and small.

You probably compared the comforts of your home to what you saw next door and drew some conclusions about how comfortable your family was.

Did your parents get a new car every couple of years or drive around in the same car until it died? Did you take frequent holidays? What were holidays and birthdays like?

Watching mum and dad carefully balance their bank account or set next week’s grocery budget also might have made a strong impression. And at the more serious end of the spectrum, an unexpected job loss, debilitating medical condition, or death could have had a profound impact on your family’s finances.

2. What was money like for your parents growing up?

Many baby boomers were raised by parents who had to tighten their belts during the Great Depression and World War II. They probably impressed upon your parents the value of the hard work, the importance of saving, and perhaps some real apprehension when it comes to money. Your parents may have passed on these same values to you or swung in the opposite direction and tried to make money as stress-free as possible.

How much do you know about your parents’ childhoods? If they’re still living, ask some questions that will fill in your family’s history a little more clearly. You might learn something surprising. And you might gain some insight into how their experiences of money are still affecting you.

3. What specific lessons were you taught that you have continued?

Some people grew up in households where money was tight and may have viewed people with large amounts of wealth with suspicion or resentment. In other cases, hard-working adults have admiration for such people but underestimate how much hard work, risk and discipline it takes to build greater levels of wealth. Their children can learn to do the same.

On a more positive note, your parents may also made decisions that taught you what was more important to them than money. Perhaps they sacrificed their own leisure and comforts so that you could attend a good private school.

4. What was the best thing you were taught about money?

As a child you probably rolled your eyes whenever your parents passed on their beliefs about money or started reminiscing about what money was like when they were growing up.

Now that you’re the one doing the earning, some of those lessons probably ring true. “Live on less than what you make” is hard to hear when it’s used to explain why you can’t have a new bike or take a big holiday. No child wants to sacrifice their weekends or summers working part time because their parents insist on it. But the lessons that were hard to swallow when we were young often create attitudes and habits that benefit us as adults.

The sum of all these memories, the positive and the negative, is a blueprint to your financial thinking. It’s also the schematic that we use to build your life-centred financial plan. Come in and share your blueprint with us so that together, we can lay a strong foundation for your family’s future.

3 Ways to Know When You Are Ready to Retire

There’s a pretty good chance that your parents or grandparents retired simply because they reached age 60 or 65. However, today’s retirement is a bit more complicated than that and I’m not just talking about the changes that have been made to state pension age.

Whilst age is still an important factor, your ability to connect your financial resources to your lifestyle goals is what will truly determine if you’re ready to retire. Here are three important markers to cross before you crack open your nest egg:

1. You’re financially ready.

The most common question we field from our clients is, “How much do I need to retire?” While there’s no magic number to hit, a few key checkpoints are:

– You have a budget. Many clients who are preparing to retire tell us they’ve never kept a budget before. Time to start! If you have any big plans for early in your retirement, like remodelling your home or a dream holiday, let us know so we can discuss and model this expenditure to ensure it can be achieved.

– Your debts are paid. No, you don’t necessarily need to pay off a fixed-rate mortgage before you retire. But try to reduce or eliminate credit card balances and any other loans that are charging you interest.

– Your age, pension funds, and state pension benefits are in sync. If you’re planning on retiring early, be sure that your pension provider won’t charge you any early withdrawal penalties for which you’re not prepared. Ensure you have maximised National Insurance to provide a full state pension entitlement.

2. You’re emotionally ready.

We spend so much of our lives working that our jobs become a large part of our identities. Rediscovering who we are once we stop working can be a major retirement challenge. To prepare for this emotional transition:

– Talk to your spouse ahead of time. Don’t wait until your last day of work to discuss how both of you feel about retirement. What do each of you imagine life will be like? What are the things you’re excited to do? What are you afraid of? What can each of you do to make this new phase of life as fulfilling as possible?

– Make a list. What are the things you’re passionate about? Something you’ve always wished you knew more about? A skill you’d like to develop? A cause that’s important to you? A great business idea that was too ambitious for your former employer?

– Check that your estate planning is up to date. It’s understandable that many people avoid this part of their retirement planning. But putting together a legacy that could impact your family and community for generations can have tremendous emotional benefits. The peace of mind that comes from knowing the people you care about are taken care of can empower you to worry a little less and enjoy your retirement more.

3. You’re ready to do new things.

Ideally, the financial piece of this conversation should make you feel free enough to create a new retirement schedule based on the emotional piece. Plan your days around the people and passions that get you out of bed in the morning. Some ideas:

– Work at something you love. Take a part-time job at a company that interests you. Turn that crazy idea you couldn’t sell to your old boss into your own business. Consult. Teach. Volunteer.

– Keep learning. Brush up your school French by enrolling in an online course. Learn some basic web design so you can showcase your photography portfolio or sign up for cooking classes and get some new meals in your weekly rotation.

– Get better at having fun. What’s the best way to lower your handicap or perfect your backhand? Take lessons from a pro. The second best? Organize weekly games with friends and family.

– Travel. Planning out a big holiday can be a fun project for couples to do to together. And while you’re looking forward to that dream trip, take a few weekend jaunts out of town. Stay at the new hotel you keep hearing about. Visit your grandkids. Go on the road with a favourite sports team and enjoy the local flavour in a different city.

If you’re nearing retirement and struggling with these issues, working with us might provide some clarity.  Why not give us a call to discuss how we can help get you ready for the best retirement possible with the money you have?

Warning – The information noted above is for general information only and is not intended as personal advice.  Carpenter Rees does not accept any liability for your reliance upon, or any errors or omissions.

 

Protecting those that matter

Many of us spend time planning our future with the intention that our plans will come good. But making sure that you and your family can cope if you fall ill or die prematurely is something we can too easily put to one side. In particular, a recent study identified that financial protection is something that millions of fathers in the UK, and their families, could benefit from.

More than half (58%) of men in the UK with dependent children have no life insurance, meaning that just over 4.5 million dads[1] are leaving their families in a precarious situation if the unforeseen were to happen. Worryingly, this has increased by five percentage points compared with 2017, a year-on-year increase of around 542,000 individuals[2].

Financial hardship

Despite a fifth (20%) of dads admitting their household wouldn’t survive financially if they lost their income due to long-term illness, only 18% have a critical illness policy, leaving many more millions at risk of financial hardship if they were to become seriously ill.

Critical illness insurance – this doesn’t usually pay out if you pass away, so it’s not always suitable if you want to make sure your family are provided for after you’ve gone. This is where life insurance comes in.  However, this type of insurance covers serious illnesses listed within a policy. If you get one of these illnesses, a critical illness policy will pay out a tax-free, one-off payment. This can help pay for your mortgage, rent, debts, or alterations to your home, such as wheelchair access, should you need it.

Life insurance – this insurance usually only pays out if you pass away. It’s designed to help your family maintain their lifestyle after you’ve gone, for example, to pay off a mortgage or other loans and provide for children’s university fees.

Many insurers will offer both types of cover combined.

No savings

If they were unable to work due to serious illness, 16% of fathers say they could only pay their household bills for a minimum of three months. More than two fifths (45%) say they’d have to dip into their savings to manage financially, but 17% admit that their savings would last for a maximum of just three months, and 12% say they have no savings at all.

On top of this, many fathers are leaving themselves and their families unprepared for other aspects of illness or bereavement. 16% of them aren’t sure who would take care of them if they fell ill, and more than two fifths (42%) don’t have the protection of a Will, power of attorney, guardianship or trust arrangement in place for their families.

Risky position

This is an especially risky position for the two thirds (66%) of UK fathers who are the main breadwinner in the family, and it’s clear that many are in lack of a ‘Plan B’.

Many fathers don’t consider having insurance as a necessity, with 16% of those without saying they don’t see critical illness cover as a financial priority, and 20% saying they don’t think they need it. The value of protection, however, is to provide long-term peace of mind about having financial security in place for your dependents.

Seek advice

Life is full of uncertainties – and while we insure cars, houses and even holiday arrangements, when it comes to ourselves and our family, often insurance is overlooked and undervalued. The simple truth is we can get too ill to carry on working or tragically die too soon, either through serious illness or accident. These events are random, and they can potentially affect us all.  

Recent changes to bereavement benefits, and their continued unavailability to those in cohabiting relationships, mean that it’s more important than ever for fathers to review their financial protection needs and seek advice to make sure their household is covered.

Unforeseen circumstance

 The impact of losing the family breadwinner can be devastating – missed mortgage repayments, savings depleted, your home being sold, your family’s standard of living eroded, with stress and worry all too evident.

 Whether it is your family or other loved ones, it’s essential to make sure that the people and things that matter to you are taken care of – whatever life throws at you.

Creating a durable plan for the future

We understand that expert advice on financial matters is invaluable in creating a durable plan for the future. To discuss what’s best for you and your family if the unforeseen were to happen, contact us so we can find the solution that’s right for you.

Source data:

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from Opinium Research. The survey was conducted online between 5 and 12 April 2018, with a sample of 5,022 nationally representative UK adults.

[1] Percentage of adult population that are fathers with dependents = 762/5022 = 15.17%; 15.17% of adult population of 51,767,000 = 7,854,730 million; 58% of these don’t have cover so 4,545,848 million

[2] Percentage of adult population that are fathers with dependents = 735/5077 = 14.48%; 14.48% of adult population of 51,767,000 = 7,495,861 million; 53% of these don’t have cover so 4,003,721. Difference of 542,127 compared with 2017

Warnings:

Protection plans usually have no cash in value at any time and will cease at the end of the term.  If premiums are not maintained, the cover will lapse. 

Critical illness plans may not cover all the definitions of a critical illness.  The definitions vary between providers and will be described in the key features and policy documents if you go ahead with a plan.  

 

 

4 Things to Consider Before Financially Bailing Out Your Adult Children

I read an article recently and whilst it was based upon research undertaken in the US, I suspect there are likely to be similarities in the UK which is why I found the article thought-provoking.

The article suggested that according to a recent American study by TD Ameritrade, 25% of baby boomers are supporting their family members financially¹, with support to adult children averaging out to $10,000 per year. That’s $10,000 per year that parents aren’t saving.

Can your retirement afford that kind of generosity?

If you fall short of your retirement goals, is the adult you’re bailing out going to bail you out during your golden years?

So, before you write your ‘struggling young adult’ another big cheque, ask yourself these four key questions:

1. What, specifically, is this money for?

The key word here is SPECIFICALLY.

Many parents tend to err on the side of protecting their child’s feelings when weighing financial support. We know asking for money can be embarrassing, and we don’t want to deepen that embarrassment. Or we’re worried that if we ask too many questions the child will become frustrated and hide serious problems from us going forward.

These are understandable concerns. But it’s also important that you understand whether your child needs support because of something beyond his or her control (a car accident, serious health issues, unexpected job loss) or because they’re struggling with basic adult responsibilities. If your child is making poor budgeting decisions or settling for underemployment, you may be throwing good money after bad.

Be tactful but get to the root problem before you decide if your money is the best solution.

2. What is the real cost to me?

Many parents are already helping their adult children more than they realise.

For example, you might not think much of funding your adult children’s mobile phone or piggyback on the Netflix subscription. After all, it’s only £30 a month, right?

But how long have you been giving your child that monthly free pass? Years? You can also set time limits. For example, tell your child they have their mobile phone bill funded until age 25 or until they get married, whichever comes first.

Are you helping with larger monthly expenses, like car payments? When will it finally be time to pull the plug?

Get it all down on paper. Make a spreadsheet that accounts for the financial support you’re already giving your child, large and small. Seeing how even small expenses accumulate over time will be eye-opening for both of you and help inform a good decision.

3. What are the terms of the bailout?

This is another area that parents tend to tiptoe around because they’re afraid of insulting their children. But do you know of any bank that’s going to loan your kids money indefinitely, charge no interest, and ask for no repayment? Then why should your money be subject to such lousy terms?

Your children have to understand that your generosity is not open-ended, especially as you near retirement age. You’ve probably made many sacrifices for them already. You should not sacrifice your financial security or the nest egg that is meant to support you in retirement.
If your children want you to “be the bank,” then you have every right to act like one. Set clear terms in writing, including a repayment schedule. In more serious cases, you might want to bring us a copy of this agreement so that we can include it in your estate plan.

4. How else can I help?

It’s very likely that your child spent 11 or more years in school without learning a single thing about managing money. Financial literacy just isn’t taught in schools. This knowledge gap could be a big reason your young adult is struggling.

A BMO Wealth Institute survey found that two-third of parents give money to adult children when a sudden need arises². Does your child need money suddenly because he or she doesn’t know how to budget? Help find that balance between covering current expenses and contributing to savings and investment accounts.

Housing and transport costs can be a shock to recent college leavers. You could help your child negotiate a car lease. You might help a child who’s already chasing after the Joneses by counselling against a rash home purchase that will stretch his or her finances thin.
Introducing your underemployed child to some of your professional connections might lead to a significant career upgrade.
One key connection you should be sure to tap: your financial adviser! We’re always happy to help our clients’ adult children get on their feet. We consider this a service to our clients because we know that the less you’re worried about supporting your children, the more secure your own retirement goals will be.

Sources

¹ https://s1.q4cdn.com/959385532/files/doc_downloads/research/TDA-Financial-Support-Study-2015.pdf

² https://wealth.bmoharris.com/media/resource_pdf/bmowi-bank-of-mom-and-dad.pdf