There was reader question to a column called The Sweet Spot in the New York Times recently. A mother was wondering if it is mean to ask her mid-twenties children to move out of the family home and start paying their own bills.
The columnists reacted predictably by telling the parents that by enabling their grown children to live a life of convenience and ease on Mom and Dad’s dime they are robbing said children of the privilege of struggle. That’s right, struggle is the work that leads to the joy of resilience and self-sufficiency.
Easy for YOU to say
Why is it so easy to write this advice, yet so many are in this trap? Maybe because parents want to be liked by their kids and making them live with 7 roommates, take the bus, and have a cell phone plan with no data isn’t the path to parental popularity.
Perhaps some hard numbers will help motivate parents to live through the short-term dislike of their kids to get them off the payroll and into a satisfying habit of working for a living.
Here’s an example
Abednego and Gizmo are 65 years old and retired. They have $500,000 invested and a total of $25,000/year of Social Security. Using the handy 4% withdrawal rule (for retirees in their 60’s), Abednego and Gizmo’s financial planner tells them their annual spending should stay around $45,000/year total.
This budget should allow raises for inflation, bad market returns, and income lasting 25 years to age 90.
Abednego and Gizmo’s 30-year-old daughter, Mebunnai has just moved back in with them following her divorce. Suddenly, between paying Mebunnai’s cell phone bill, car insurance, and extra food, Abdnego and Gizmo’s budget has swelled to $50,000 per year. This is a 25% increase over the suggested withdrawal rate.
Blame the messenger
Their financial planner warns that if this keeps up, they will run out of money in a mere 19 years at the tender age of 84. Abednego and Gizmo now see the importance of nudging Mebunnai out of the nest and back to financial independence as soon as possible.
Remember, if you don’t want to feel like a bad guy to your kids, you can always blame your financial planner. Don’t have a financial planner to throw under the bus? Contact me for a 15-minute consultation to see if there is a fit for working together.