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Parents contribute over £1,480 a year to their adult children’s living expenses

02 May 2017

New research from Gocompare.com finds that young people’s financial reliance on their parents could be putting families under pressure.

  • Parents contribute an average of £123.60 a month to their children’s living expenses;
  • 18% of parents of 17 to 25 year olds say their kids are a major drain on their finances;
  • Over a fifth (21%) say supporting their grown-up children prevents them saving for retirement;
  • 13% of parents feel they’re funding lifestyles that their children can’t afford to maintain themselves.

The financial pressure put upon young people by the rising cost of living means that many are turning to their parents for help, receiving an average of £123.60 a month (£1,483.20 a year) to help towards their expenses. The Bank of Mum and Dad picks up bills for food, mobile phones, clothing, cosmetics and transport – as well as treats.

The research, commissioned by Gocompare.com Money, looked at the financial help parents of 17 to 25 year olds provide their children, and almost a fifth (18%) admitted that supporting them was putting a real strain on their finances and their relationship with their children.

A quarter (23%) of parents felt their children had gotten used to a comfortable lifestyle thanks to their contribution, with 11% saying that they’d paid too much money supporting them.

While it seems that some young adults have become reliant on their parents’ generosity, 15% of parents surveyed said that they needed to reduce the amount of money they contribute towards their children’s living expenses. What’s more, over a fifth (21%) were concerned that supporting their adult children was hindering their ability to save for themselves or their retirement.12% hadn’t expected to still be making financial contributions to their kids.

The goods and services that parents contribute towards, or pay for outright, include:

 Food 45%
 The odd £10 or £20 to treat themselves 35%
 Mobile phone costs - inc monthly contract or SIM only costs 30%
 Clothing, shoes 25%
 Cosmetics and toiletries 21%
 Insurance for their car 21%
 Maintenance/service costs for their car 18%
 Tax for their car 15%
 Pocket money or weekly/monthly allowance 14%
 University living expenses 14%
 Petrol/diesel for their car 14%
 Helping to buy furniture or accessories for their room or home 13%
 PC or laptop costs eg purchase, antivirus or repairs 12%
 Transport costs - train, bus, tram or underground 12%
 Lunch money 11%
 University fees 9%
 Paying towards their rent 7%
 Pub money or going out money 7%
 Car loan or lease 4%
 Other items or services 7%

On the opposite end of the scale, more than a quarter (28%) of parents wished that they could do more to help their children. Over a third (35%) said that they give their grown-up children the odd £10 or £20 just for treats, while 14% said that they gave their grown-up kids regular pocket money. 

Matt Sanders from Gocompare.com Money said, “This research suggests that many young people are finding it increasingly difficult to support themselves financially, and there could be a variety of reasons why.

“Young people are more likely to stay in full-time education than previous generations and trying to balance a part-time job alongside university commitments may leave them a little short on cash. Similarly, the cost of necessities like rent, energy bills and car insurance continues to rise, while wages have remained fairly static. As a result, those at the start of their careers have to make their money stretch a lot further than they did in previous years.

“While it’s good to see that families are supporting each other, money can put a lot of pressure on families and parents should only give their grown-up children what they can afford.  It may be that some families have got into the habit of Mum and Dad always picking-up the bill – even when their children are earning enough themselves. Money can be a tricky subject but it could be time cut the parental purse strings if subsidising your adult children is causing financial difficulty.”

If you’re having trouble balancing your budget, try using Gocompare.com’s budget calculator

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Notes to editors:

*Between 08 and 14 February 2017, OnePoll conducted an online survey among 1,000 parents with children aged 17 to 25 years old.  Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.