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Are you still funding your children’s lifestyle?

Are you still funding your children’s lifestyle?

Category: Money

Updated: 17/10/2016
First Published: 17/10/2016

This article was correct at the time of publication. It is now over 6 months old so the content may be out of date.

While many parents like to provide financial support to their children while they grow up, often helping out with things like weddings, cars and university fees, others find that they fund more of their children's lifestyle than they'd like – and for longer than they expected.

Empty nests – and empty wallets

Research from Freesat shows that many parents are still funding the lifestyle of their children even after they've flown the nest, and they're often paying for luxuries rather than necessities. For example, 18% of "empty nesters" surveyed said they pay for their adult children's mobile phone bills, while 11% even pay for their kids' TV subscriptions, 7% pay for magazine subscriptions and 10% shell out for gym memberships.

Other bills empty nesters cover may be more essential – 17% pay for their child's car insurance, for example, while 12% help cover the cost of food shopping, 7% help pay for rent and 9% pay for their children's road tax – but it can't be denied that the cost of providing this financial support can quickly ramp up.

Even just covering the cost of a TV subscription can be costly. These empty nesters currently pay an average of £45 a month (or £540 per year) so their children can benefit from a shared account once they've flown the nest, yet they only watch 25% of the channels available. They're also less likely to switch TV provider, despite being less content with the service, and more than half said they'd switch to a cheaper deal were their children not using the service.

And that's before we even get to things like helping their children get on the property ladder, with additional research from L&G finding that the Bank of Mum and Dad was expected to lend a whopping £5bn this year to help fund their kids' house deposit.

Time to get out of the habit?

Many parents will find that they're stuck in the habit of funding their child's lifestyle, while others will simply think they're doing the right thing by providing that kind of financial support. However, while helping out with essential costs may feel like part of the parental duty, paying for those not-quite-so-essential items certainly shouldn't be!

So how can you get out of the habit? One way could be to ease off gently, perhaps by switching to a different TV and broadband package that doesn't offer a shared account. Helping kids get into better financial habits could also be a good way to go, perhaps by encouraging them to compare insurance quotes or mobile phone contracts when it's time to renew.

But if you really feel like you need to provide that kind of support, don't jeopardise your own finances in the process. Set up a savings account to help build that all-important house deposit, for example, or an emergency fund for those times you'll inevitably need to bail your child out of a financial emergency. Keep it separate from your own savings and day-to-day funds, and you'll still win the parent of the year award while keeping your own finances on track.

Disclaimer: Information is correct as of the date of publication (shown at the top of this article). Any products featured may be withdrawn by their provider or changed at any time.