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Helping Your Adult Child With a Financial Emergency (Without Bankrupting Yourself)

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By Justin Weinger

Frugal Feature

Published on

No matter how old your children get there will be times throughout their lives that they simply need the help, love, and support of their parents. While some occasions might call for nothing more than a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, and a few words of wisdom, other times they need a bit more – like money.

As an older adult, you’re fully aware that life isn’t always easy. Getting fired from a job, going through a divorce, getting sick or injured, or even not having a complete grasp on your finances could cause you to fall behind in the blink of an eye.

As the parent, when your child comes to you in need, you would give any and everything up to see them happy. Be that as it may, however, digging yourself into a financial hole or coddling your adult child from life’s circumstances can also backfire. That’s why it’s important to find a balance between helping your child in a financial crisis while still remembering your own needs.

Hear Them Out

Start by listening to your child. Find out what is going on and why they need your help. Sometimes listening can help you to determine whether or not it’s a good idea to step in and assist. For instance, if your son was injured on the job and is now out of work for a while and just needs a few extra dollars to hold him over until disability starts, it may be worth helping him out. However, if your daughter spent all her money on things she really doesn’t need, bailing her out really does nothing for anyone.

Review Your Budget

After hearing what your child has to say, ask them to give you some time to think about it. Not only do you want to revisit what was said, but you need to evaluate your budget to see what you can afford to give. Now keep in mind, even if your child has agreed to pay you back, there is no guarantee that it will be in a timely fashion. Therefore, you should never give more than you can afford to do without.

Look Up Other Avenues

Before talking with your child again about their financial emergency look for other resources that can help. For instance, your son who got injured at work may be eligible for loans for medical procedures, bills, and related expenses. Giving him this information gives him the financial boost he needs without you having to give up a penny. Your daughter, on the other hand, might benefit from talking with a financial advisor or counselor to get her money in order.

Get it In Writing

When you’ve loaned money to your adult child with the understanding that they’ll pay it back, get it in writing. Though this is a family matter money can quickly cause things to get ugly -especially if they’re not paying you back in time and it’s causing you issues. It doesn’t have to involve attorneys or anything but drafting a brief family loan agreement stating what was loaned, how much is to be repaid, and when it’s due keeps everyone on the same page.

Provide Sound Advice

Whether you decide to help your adult child with their financial troubles or not a bit of sound advice can go a long way to ensuring you don’t end up down this road again. Talk with your child about the importance of an emergency savings account, good credit, and proper money management. Perhaps give examples of your own financial emergencies, the lessons you learned from them, and how you’re able to manage your money better today. This way, they don’t feel bad or singled out as you provide advice.

They weren’t lying when they said a parent’s job is never done. Your children will continue to need your love and support throughout their lives. While there’s no issue with being there for your kids when they need you, just remember don’t sacrifice your own stability in the process. Instead, use the above-mentioned advice to assist your child without sparing yourself.