Millennials are wasteful spendthrifts, even if they don't have cable or buy clothing new, unlike boomers who are literally the best financial planners the world has ever known.
Hello, parents of young adults!
Are you sick of financially supporting your Grown-Ass Kids? Today's young adults came of age during a horrible recession, have massive student loan debt (or just plain couldn’t go to college), face unemployment and underemployment at extremely high rates, and just generally have financial challenges previous generations can only dream of. So you end up giving them money!
It makes sense: you’re an excellent parent and you want your children to be OK. Yet, the reason they are taking your money — rather than buying a nice house in the suburbs and popping out 2.5 grand babies for you to dote on — is not actually the economy. I know that doesn’t make sense, but stick with me here. Oh no. It's that they're whiny, lazy, entitled, brats who love gadgets and hate being good citizens. And that is something they became all on their own, despite your near-perfect parenting.
You, and many other baby boomers like you, are probably feeling lost right now. How can you help your millennial children when giving them money will just enable them, but not giving them money might literally make them homeless? Fear not! Here are six ways you can teach your adult children some financial responsibility and independence:
1. Keep giving them money, but try being a massive dick about it.
It's tough to do, but that's why we call it tough love. Obviously cutting them off entirely is out of the question — you don't want them to starve! But you can, with careful consideration, make them feel really, really, shitty about taking your money. This will either motivate them, or make then depressed.
Try mentioning what your life was like when you were their age, and imply that the real difference IS THAT YOU JUST WORKED HARDER AND HAD MORE SELF-RESPECT. I mean, that's true. You know that if you were a young person with today's limited opportunities, you'd find a way to make it work. You're just plucky like that. Your kids, though? Not so much. Don't blame yourself — they probably get it from their mother.
Another tried-and-true tactic is mentioning your retirement plans. If you keep helping your kids keep their heads above water, retirement might not be quite what you had planned. Make sure they know that! Or, if all else fails, you can mention Sandy's kid, the one who got a job working for Apple right out of college, What's-His-Face. He’s proof positive that despite the statistics, the job market isn't as bad as your kid claims.
Get creative! There's a wide range of passive-aggressive — and aggressive-aggressive — comments you can make as you hand over the dough. Whatever you choose, remember that your goal is to make them wonder if having their electricity shut off is actually any worse than having this conversation with you.
2. Treat your adult child like an actual child...or an employee.
If you are offering financial support, you deserve a say in how that support is utilized (even though you’d lose your shit if your boss tried to tell you how to spend your paycheck). Make your support contingent on you controlling how they spend not just your money, but all money.
Offer to look over their budget, or have regular "financial planning" meetings with them. Millennials are wasteful spendthrifts, even if they don't have cable or buy clothing new, unlike boomers who are literally the best financial planners the world has ever known. You just know they could cut the fat somewhere, if only they would try! Plus, having a formalized meeting with your adult child is a great time for general lectures, interrogations about their love life, and suggestions that they move closer to home. I bet Uncle Billy would give them a job if they just asked!
3. Suggest a side gig!
OK, so it turns out your kid doesn't have as many frivolous expenses as you had expected. Huh. Go figure. But there's still a solution. Whether your kid is working full-time at a job that just doesn't pay enough, or going to school and working part time, or searching fruitlessly for employment day after demeaning day, the answer is simple! All they need is a/nother job. Bet they didn't think of that!
If they just put their mind to it, and their nose to the grindstone (for once in their lives), they would be able to make a second (or first, or third) job appear out of thin air. Also, no matter how busy they say they are, they can make time for more work. Trust me. This is definitely not something they have already thought of or tried and failed at, regardless of what they say. If your child becomes difficult, try talking louder.
Second job. Second job. SECOND JOB.
4. If your adult child lives with you, make them pay rent.
One way many parents like to help out is by giving their kids a place to stay. It's a sweet thought: They can save money and you can impose curfews, insist they make it home for family dinner and demand to know whether or not she's having sex, so everybody wins. But not so fast — free room and board can easily make your happy home a crutch, which will hinder your child's ability to attain financial independence.
Instead of offering your kid a free ride, charge them rent. This is a great idea, especially if you only mention it AFTER they've moved back in instead of getting that cheap apartment with Mike. First of all, you deserve it — you had to move your stationary bike, after all! Second of all, making living with you barely cheaper than a one bedroom apartment will force them to reconsider sharing that studio apartment with three roommates. It's called living within your means!
And before you ask, no, listening to your daily political tirades does not count as rent.
5. Teach healthy spending and savings habits now.
Your adult child probably doesn't know the first thing about how to handle money. You might think that this is somehow your fault; that you should have helped them learn this when they were children. You might be thinking that, as a parent, your job was to shepherd your children to independence over time. Don't beat yourself up! It's likely the only parenting mistake you made was listening to those liberal teachers who prattled on about "self-esteem," thus making your children soft and needy. Speaking of which, let’s defund public schools!
The fact is, "self-esteem" has only served to make your child lazy and vain. It's time to teach that kid the truth: Your worth as a person is directly tied to your ability to attain capital. Feeling terrible about their inability to pay their own cell phone bill, and knowing that you consider them a massive failure, will in fact motivate them to get that second job at Starbucks and stop throwing money away by refusing to grind their own flour.
Your kid needs to learn how to set goals and work towards them. Sandy's kid (I think his name is Trevor? Taylor? Something like that) already bought his first house. That's what your kid should be striving for! After all, you won't be around forever, and who is going to take care of them then, huh?
I bet they never even thought about that.