Your Parents Have NO Retirement Savings – What’s Your Responsibility?

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no retirement savings
We all know having no retirement savings is a bad situation. But what if it’s not you, but your parents, who have no retirement savings – what’s your responsibility? On first thought, it might be tempting to dismiss the entire scenario. You can simply assume that your parents have some kind of retirement savings set…

We all know having no retirement savings is a bad situation. But what if it’s not you, but your parents, who have no retirement savings – what’s your responsibility?

On first thought, it might be tempting to dismiss the entire scenario. You can simply assume that your parents have some kind of retirement savings set aside. Or, you can rationalize that if they don’t, it’s not your responsibility anyway.

But your parents are the people who raised you, who used their financial resources to provide for you in your childhood and early adult life when you couldn’t do so for yourself. Some states even have filial laws on the books, requiring children to help provide financial assistance for impoverished parents.

While it’s true that most states do not have filial responsibility laws, there is still some form of responsibility on your part, if only a moral one.

The reality today is that many people who are approaching their retirement years don’t have much in the way of retirement savings. True, in many cases it’s because they didn’t have any plan or motivation to make it happen.

But other times, it’s because a job loss occurred at a bad time in life, or a rash of significant expenses, such as medical bills, providing for elderly parents, or college education for their kids, that left them with an empty bank account.

Whatever the reason, if your parents have no retirement savings, what can you do to help?


Encourage Them to Save as Much as They Are Able

Your first best strategy in dealing with your parents is to encourage them to save as much is possible. Even if they’ve never saved before, you can stress that the absence of dependent children should free up more of their income to direct into savings. You might even consider creating a budget for them, particularly if this has never been one of their motivations.

Many times people don’t save for retirement because they fear that they would be doing so too late in the game to make a difference. Maybe they won’t be able to save up enough money to have a comfortable retirement, but any money that they can save will have a positive effect on their later years.

For example, if they can save $50,000 over the next 10 years, it may not enable them to retire, but it will certainly give them a generous emergency fund to fall back on.

Encourage Them to Make Frugal Living Choices

For a lot of people who have no retirement savings, it’s a matter of making the wrong spending choices. You might be able to help them with this.

For example, if they’re still living in the same four-bedroom, 2 ½ bath, two car garage house that they raised you and your siblings in, recommend that they downsize. Sell the house, and move to smaller, less expensive living quarters.

Not only would such a move help them to accumulate money for retirement, but it will also result in lower living expenses, which will enable them to live better during their retirement years.

They could even utilize a tool such as Personal Capital to help them track and manage their finances using their free financial tools.

Encourage Them to Get Out of Debt

Some people live their entire lives in debt, and unfortunately, our culture tends to encourage that behavior. But when you’re approaching your retirement years, that kind of financial lifestyle has to change. It’s even more important if you have no retirement savings.

Paying off debt is generally the single best way to lower your living expenses. If your parents have car loans and credit card debt, encourage them to pay these off as soon as possible. Not only will they lower their living expenses, but once the debts are paid they’ll have more money to put into savings.

Encourage Them to Explore Additional Income Ideas

People who don’t have sufficient retirement savings have to get serious about how they will earn income during their golden years. It’s not always possible to continue working a full-time job in your lifetime career much past age 65. They may have to consider creating entirely new and different post-retirement careers.

Fortunately, there a lot of options here, especially with the Internet. Encourage them to explore business opportunities, particularly those that can easily be marketed over the web. They may also want to consider downshifting from full-time, career type positions, into part-time work in a more enjoyable field or atmosphere. Some options might include:

Lyft If your parents live in a reasonably populated area then there is probably a need for rideshare drivers. Lyft is a top company in the rideshare market and can get them plenty of riders.

Fiverr If you have marketable online skills Fiverr is a great marketplace to bring in business.  This can be anything from transcribing to web development.

VIPKid – If you have a bachelors degree and are a native English speaker you can get paid to teach Ch

It’s generally not possible for people to survive on Social Security alone. But if a couple is each receiving Social Security, and each supplementing that income with a part-time job or business, they may do just fine. That’s the arrangement you may need to prepare them for, and since it may take advanced planning, now is the time.

Encourage Them to Delay Retirement, if Even for a Few Years

While most people don’t want to delay retirement, it may be in your parents’ best interest to do so, even if it is only by a few years. Delaying retirement gives them a fighting chance to implement all of the above ideas – saving more, learning to live on less, getting out of debt, and even transitioning to part-time employment.

Another important thing this allows them to do is delay taking Social Security Benefits. You can earn between 20 and 30% more in Social Security Benefits by delaying your benefits start date.

(See Social Security Age Reduction Chart for more info).

Worst Case: Prepare Yourself for Your Parents Retirement

It may well be that all of the late-stage efforts by your parents will be insufficient to enable them to comfortably survive in retirement. If that’s the case, you may need to be prepared to step in with some direct help.

That doesn’t mean providing your parents with a monthly income or enabling them to live outside of their means. But there are ways that you can help in a less direct manner.

For example, if you have your own business, you can consider hiring one or both of your parents on a part-time basis. You might also consider bringing them on to work on a contract basis, where they handle a specific part of your business.

Alternatively, you might help them start a business in a more direct way. You can, for example, connect them with other people who can help them start the business. Or you might have contacts with businesses who may be able to employ them on a part-time basis.

In a more direct way, you might offer to take over one or more of their debts when they turn 65. This will lower their living expenses and give them a fighting chance of surviving on a reduced income. If you go this route, you will, of course, need to get a solid assurance that they won’t take on additional debt to replace the one you’re covering.

(Learn more about lending money to family members)

As an extreme measure – and particularly if your parents are completely unprepared for retirement – you might consider taking them in to live with you. This could mean creating an extra living space somewhere in your home so that they can live with you peaceably. By removing housing expense from their budget, you’ll be taking away what is probably be the biggest single expense they have.

It’s tough enough to provide for your own retirement, let alone someone else’s. But if you have to step in and help your parents in any way, it’s best to begin working on it as soon as possible. That will give you time to prepare and to position yourself to be able to help them with the least amount of disruption in your own life.

While you’re working to plan and prepare for your own retirement, are you ever concerned at how your parents will survive in retirement?

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About Kevin Mercadante

Kevin Mercadante is professional personal finance blogger, and the owner of his own personal finance blog, He has backgrounds in both accounting and the mortgage industry. He lives in Atlanta with his wife and two teenage kids and can be followed on Twitter at @OutOfYourRut.

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    These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

  1. Lutz says

    Most Boomers were so selfish and irresponsible (and continue to be) that they left the next generation without a pot to pee in, so to speak. Now they expect their penniless offspring to provide a safety net for them? LMAO! They’d best prepare to sleep in the beds they’ve made.

    • matt says

      Agree Lutz. It is tough to give advice and help to a +65 year-old parent who made continuously poor financial and spending decisions, didn’t actively save for retirement, and then expects their kids to come to the rescue.

  2. Kate @ Money Propeller says

    When my father died last 7 years ago, we really faced a very difficult time, especially my father didn’t have any insurance at all! And we were a single income family, currently, I’m saving for my mom and I also pay all the bills and do the groceries.

  3. Hanna @ Soulful Ceramics says

    Sad to say that I’m in the worst case scenario.
    No amount of encouragement has worked, ton of debt, no job, no savings, absolutely nothing.
    And it’s a constant worry. So much so that it’s affecting my life.
    I certainly don’t wish this upon anyone else.

    • Brinestone says

      This is my husband’s parents. We have four kids living at home and no space for them anywhere. I really don’t know what the answer is, especially while they keep making poor financial decisions.

      • matt says

        In the same position as the both of you. Very tough to take on the responsibility, especially if they made poor financial and spending decisions over many years. It is something I think of constantly and I’m worried if it gets worth that it will begin to become a day-to-day worry.

  4. Kevin Mercadante says

    Hi Lutz – I don’t know if I’d generalize to that degree, but some people in every generation lived life with reckless abandon – even in the World War 2 generation. But a lot of others just didn’t have the opportunity to accumulate much money, or lost it during difficult circumstances.

    Kate – Bless you for what you’re doing for your mom, but is there a way to get her involved in saving and providing for herself?

    Hanna – All you can do is all you can do. Just do what you can in small steps and see where it leads you.

  5. Marvin says

    This is a very sensitive topic because I believe it is going to plague a lot of families in the coming decades. I have already started to feel some of the fear/anxiety of worrying about my parents as they enter into retirement. Another aspect that I find frustrating with parents is in their eyes you are always their child and are sometimes stubborn in regards to taking your advice.

  6. Kevin Mercadante says

    Hi Marvin – Unfortunately, what you’re describing is all too true. Kids are often the least respected voices in their parents lives, because they can’t get over seeing you as the small child they once raised. Role reversals can be emotionally painful. It might be best to convey your thoughts to an influential friend of your parents, and to let them try to do the convincing. Your ideas may have more credibility coming from someone else.

    There’s a bible verse, “Only in his hometown is a prophet without honor.” I think that applies here as well. A child – even one fully grown – if often without credibility to his or her parents.

    • matt says

      Hi Marvin and Kevin – this is one of the most difficult issues with my parent. It will take what seems like +40 attempts to get through to them with advice and direction as they still view you as their child. The only thing that seems to work is patience, calmness, and being diligent with them.

  7. Jon @ Money Smart Guides says

    I guess I am lucky in that my parents were good with money. Neither went to college, they had blue collar jobs (no pensions) and raised 3 kids. We lived modestly and they saved a lot. They both retired a few years ago and don’t have anything to worry about money-wise right now.

    I don’t know what I would say to my parents if they didn’t save or had no money. It would certainly be a tough conversation to have for both parties – me telling them what to do and then them getting advice from their kid.

  8. Kevin Mercadante says

    Hi Jon – That’s the difficult part, reversing roles with your parents. Most of them will resist it with every fiber of their being. It’s kind of the teacher-learning-from-the-student thing that all human beings consider to be somehow unnatural.

    The description of your parents and how they ended up describes my parents – blue collar, no pensions, but lived beneath their means and always saved a seemingly impossible amount of money. I think that when you don’t have a college education, you might live more conservatively and rely more heavily on sound money management than on a perpetually rising income. That’s where most of us could certainly take a lesson from our parents, if that describes them.

  9. Bridget says

    I made peace with the fact that I will need to supplement my parents’ retirements a long, long, long time ago.

    They don’t have substantial savings, and up until a few years ago, my dad’s plan was simply to “work until he dies” — he’s a general contractor, so this is ridiculous. Building houses is not a viable vocation for the elderly!

    Outside of very small government pensions, they essentially have nothing, so I thought I’d be on the hook for the whole bill. However, a few years ago my dad started a small antique/general store that’s started to bring in some good, steady extra income for him. It’s not a lot, but most importantly it’s more viable long term — so much more reasonable for him to stand behind a cash register than hammer nails into a roof!! It makes me really happy because it’s made their retirement infinitely more secure. The store is a great hobby they enjoy AND it supplements their income, it’s awesome.

    That said, I know I will still pay for them to visit (I live in Canada, they’re in the US) and send them on other trips or give them somewhat elaborate gifts (things I know they would never spend money but would enjoy on like a big screen TV). And I will do this very willingly. My parents are awesome and I look forward to paying them back!

    • Betty says

      You are such a GREAT DAUGHTER!!! My parents are like your parents..they would never spend money on themselves. I would give them a subscription to CABLE T.V. and THEY LOVED WATCHING all the shows on the many cable stations instead of the SAME 5 local channels. Yes, you can pay for them to come to Canada if you or your parents lives on or near a coastal area state. They can take a cruise up. Cruises are SO CHEAP. It includes the cruise ticket, the cabin, entertainment, shows along the way, all the meals are free (5 different restaurants on board). There are ROUND TRIP cruises and ONE way cruises. Check out the cruise fares for cruises that goes up to CANADA. You can go meet them at the port.

    • Berna says

      I know I’m 100 years late with my comment, but your comment has given me a lot of hope. I’m in the same place as you and worried about my parents, who are pretty much at a Ground 0 type of situation, too, but it’s awesome to hear that starting something on their own (1) is possible (2) checks the boxes of steady income and keeping them busy/moving/full of purpose in retirement. Thank you!

  10. Mark says

    Reminds me of the book, The Millionaire Next Door, where Thomas Stanley calls it “Economic Outpatient Care”– when parents spend a lot of their savings and retirement on their adult children. I have had this discussion with my parents and family so many times. Definitely something to plan for. Great article. Thanks

  11. Kevin Mercadante says

    Hi Bridget – You have a very accommodating attitude toward your parents and that’s fairly unusual these days. Good for you! I guess your dad is making good on his strategy of working until he dies! I’ve known people who did/do that, and it’s usually not as bad as it seems. Of course, the type of work you do matters a lot, and I think an antique store is an outstanding idea especially if he has a serious interest in it. It might even keep him around longer than if he outright retired.

    Hi Mark – What you’re pointing out is a common occurrence these days. Parents over-indulge their kids, especially with college, weddings and help buying a new house, and end up in the poor house themselves by the time they reach retirement age. I think that anyone who’s gotten that much help from their parents has an obligation to help them in retirement.

  12. V.C. says

    My parents, I would do anything for. We lived so frugal as children which taught us so many life lessons. My mom raised 3 kids and my dad worked. They divorced in our teens and my mom remarried a incredibly sensible and amazing man. My dad will be fine as he has a small pension; however, this man saved and saved and invested and invested only to have made the wrong investment and lost every dime in the 2008 stock crash. They have nothing. They are both in insurance and are able to work, and they do. They still live with frugality and don’t make rash monetary decisions, are not in debt (except their simple home) leaving them to save just a small amount. However, they are slowing down and they need a physical break; they deserve to retire. I am in no position to financially help (as a homemaker myself) and am dubbed the caretaker by my sister and brother. I know I will be the one to physically care for them and I am so OK with that, it is the least I can do. Any one know of any resources out there that will take pity or give the gift of a small retirement to people who desperately need it and completely deserve it? Like when Oprah was on, I could see her giving a person a gift like this. Any help would be great.

  13. mike says

    My parents had good jobs but were terrible with money. My mother was a habitual money waster and my father lives life with his head in the sand with regards to such realities. Tried to encourage them to get a smaller house. Nope. Tried to encourage them to stop buying Christmas and birthday gifts. Nope. Tried to encourage them to even just sell the junk in the basement. Nope. They have piles of debt. The continually need to “borrow” money. I have kids of my own and a retirement of my own to worry about and my entire budget is earmarked, so when they do this, it’s money coming out of my retirement and increasing the odds of my putting a similar burden on MY children. I feel obliged to some extent given that they paid for much of my college, but at the same time, their financial ineptitude was unknown to me and I certainly would have told them to save that money.

    Sadly this is effecting my perception of my parents and my relationship with them. When I was single, I could tolerate something like this, but now it’s having a direct impact on the financial well being of my own household…individuals other than myself. I am doing my best to save so I don’t do this to my own children, but my parents are putting a drag on that effort.

    Part of me feels sorry for them and wants to help. The other part of me is enraged at their lack of discipline. And I feel as if this is going to be a rapidly growing problem for the children of baby boomers and their general fiscal irresponsibility.

  14. Kevin Mercadante says

    Hi Mike – You can’t give good advice to someone who won’t take it. You may have to wait for them to have a financial crash before you can have any influence at all. And if they do crash, be ready to help them with advice and help them find income sources and cheaper housing. If you go the direct assistance route – giving them cash support or paying their bills – it’s likely that they’ll continue on their old habits. You’ll be financially drained, and their situation won’t improve.

    Wait for when the time is right, then intervene. Meanwhile let their example stand as a good example why you don’t want to go down the same path.

  15. gyozaboi says

    I’m in kind of the same situation. Dad never had any skills. Was unemployed since he was 47 and since I was 16. My mom worked minimum wage-ish job until now. They in their early 60s. Mom has a retirement plan. But that’s only got ~20K+ inside. Taken mortgage, utilities, food + gas into consideration, and assuming we’re VERY frugal, monthly expenses will be at least 1.5 – 2K. Mom wants to retire early, or may be let go from job soon. That 20K and whatever SS they get would just barely be enough. My income is ~60K as of now pre tax, after tax it’s ~45K. I’m already 30 and an only child. I’d wanted to go back to school for a masters or move out of CA (which taxes you like a bunch of bank robbers). I just don’t see us getting out of our income level in my life time. My parents will be completely dependent on me once mom retires. With only a 45K income to go in between 3 grown adults in southern california. It’s bad.

  16. Kevin Mercadante says

    Hi gyozaboi – Can you move out of California? My wife and I moved out of New Jersey and down to Georgia many years ago to escape the high cost of living there. A few months ago we moved from Georgia to New Hampshire, which has no income tax or sales tax. To our surprise, except for housing, the cost of living in NH is even lower than Georgia. It may be worth a try for you and your parents. There are certainly a lot of cheaper places to live than California. Just getting away from that punitive state income tax system seems worth the move to me.

    You also mention a mortgage – is there enough equity in the house that it might be worth selling to raise assets for retirement? That sale could work in combination with an out-of-state move. Just a thought, and certainly give it careful consideration before doing it.

  17. leilani says

    My parents are amazing people, but are technically my grandparents which puts me and my brother at age 30 with young families, and them in their 70’s. My dad was just forced into retirement and mom has been medically unable to work for decades. They have a rapidly depleting savings account and smaller by the month. I will do anything for them, as we lived modestly most of my childhood through a layoff and slow commission in dads sales. They got very comfortable in recent years, when business got very very good, they spent thousands on better vehicles and remodels for the kitchen. Now they are suddenly in a very bad place. I think we will need to convince them to sell the house. Which is just very sad. Makes me sick to my stomach to think about!

  18. Nicole T says

    My father-in-law is a lovely person, but financially he’s made a mess of things. He is 68, has no assets (aside from a BMW that is constantly requiring expensive repairs), he never really paid into social security since he had his own business most of his adult life, no savings/retirement accounts, he now works for himself very part-time doing light IT work for people, and he makes just enough money to pay his rent and basic expenses each month. His car is once again needing repairs and I’ve told my husband that when we give his dad money every now and then, it is enabling his father, and allowing his dad to pretend there isn’t a long-term financial concern. My husband’s side of the family is very long-lived, and my very healthy FIL has nothing set aside for old age. We have two young children, and both work fulltime, and are saving for college and retirement ourselves, but I am seriously concerned that we will have to pay for my FIL’s financial missteps. Moving out of the SF Bay Area isn’t really an option for us career-wise (the jobs are all here for our skill sets), and my FIL doesn’t want to discuss the future at all, let alone move.

  19. Isa says

    Just had this difficult conversation with my mom… She’s 64, would like to retire, but can’t. She would like us (hubby and I) to buy her almost-paid-for house and then rent it to her But we are not interested taking that extra responsibility! And she doesn’t want to move to an apartment because of noise and neighbors…. Self-employed all her life so no pension. Single mom and not so good with money management, so not much money in savings, she would receive about 15000$/year from the government, which is not enough. So I feel guilty and angry at the same time, guilty for not helping (not wanting to buy her house or ask her to move in with us – that would be hell!) and angry at her bad money management skills and asking me to fix it for her. I am the only child who will take care of her, she has no one else, it will all fall on my back. We don’t have the closest relationship either, which doesn’t help.

    • Ryan Guina says

      This is a tough situation, Isa. I can see why you are hesitant to buy her home from her then rent it to her. There are a lot of reasons why this could be a bad idea. The cost, for one. But also, as a landlord, you would be responsible for all repair and maintenance costs, property taxes, insurance, etc. This is a lot to take on, especially if you are already reluctant to do so. It could cause a lot of heartache and resentment. I don’t see this being a good option for you. I hope your mother will be able to find an alternate arrangement.

    • Lisa says

      I can relate to this Isa. I don’t have a close relationship with my mom either and though I was raised primarily by my grandmother, my mom never planned for the future and was a wild, irresponsible person all my life. Luckily, I had better adult representatives in my life who looked after me and mentored me. However, ever since I could work as a teen, I always felt responsible for my wayward mom and her bad life decisions, until I sought therapy and put a label on it—-parentification. I now put myself first in all way and I no longer financially or mentally sacrifice on my mom’s behalf. She will eventually have to go to assisted living and that’s just the way it will be. I definitely can’t afford to adjust my life to be her caretaker. She made certain decisions to put herself where she is. So don’t feel guilty about not adjusting your life to what she would like for you to do on her behalf. You have a right and obligation to yourself and your own family.

    • Angie says

      If you can’t or aren’t willing to buy the house for/from her (though if I were you I would buy it for the amount it takes to pay it off so she can live out her years there), then the best option is probably going to be a reverse mortgage. It will come out of your inheritance so you are paying for it no matter either way. You should look at your long term future to see which option looks best for you. Selling the house is probably a bad idea as the cost of moving, selling everything and the stress of it all will surely trickle (gush) down to you. And she will likely burn through the money she gets from it paying rent and continuing her (I’m assuming) not so great spending habits.

  20. Tammy says

    My mother was married several times. Her recent husband worked for Smith Barney, was a financial planner, some sort of world speaker, and was also a college professor. He held about 3 jobs most of his life. He made around 300K a year. They took trips all around the world and blew cash like crazy. My mother was 39 when she quit working. Her husband in his later years blew everything on furthering his education and almost finished his doctorate. He ended up with Alzheimer’s and everything went down hill from there. He was laid off from his jobs due to his inability to function.

    They had about $4500 a month to live on for retirement together. My mother thought she could care for him and live comfortably but 5 years of Alzheimer’s she just could not physically care for him anymore as she has her own health problems. Now that she is 76 years old and we had to place her husband in a home she is only left with $1000 a month. The assisted living unit took pretty much everything so any left over is to pay for life insurance policies(about $500 a month and medical expenses). My mother moved in with me so and I held estate sales to try to sale all her stuff, every weekend for 8 weeks as they had a accumulated a ton items. After she moved in my husband moved out because he could not deal with all the stuff and disorder it brought. I had not had time to get everything sold or into another storage unit for her. I work 50 plus hours a week myself. I was the only one helping her. I ended up paying all the bills on my own as well as trying to get my mothers bills taken care of. What a mess with a lot of heartbreak. My partner bailed on me.

    I did get my husband to come back home after several months but he wants her out of our house. She refuses to go to an assisted living place at this time so I’ve been trying to find a place for mom that is close by and that will not cost me $500 a month to let her live there. I’m constantly caught in the middle of two people I love very much that can’t stand each other. My husband is very smart with money and can be very cheap. He also likes to keep things simple by not have a ton of material items. They are both complete opposites. I’m just happy that I did not lose the love of my life. Pray that things will just work out for all of us. I’m a giver with a huge heart so I tend to get into trouble in these areas. Thankful for a guiding husband but there has to be a line, as I will not allow her to go homeless even if he feels this is her fault. She was never involved in her husband’s finances till he got sick. By that time it was too late.

  21. Emily says

    Parents choose to have children. When they make that choice, they are morally and legally responsible to raise and support them. Children do not ask to be born, nor should they be held accountable, legally or morally, for their parents’ care in old age. Not every family includes Ward and June Cleaver.

  22. Amanda says

    My parents are divorced and both are retired. They are both living far beyond their means. My father had a new custom home built and spent a ton of money on upgrades. Now he and his girlfriend are breaking up and he’s telling us he can’t pay the bills himself, and he can’t sell because there are more custom homes being built across the street. His home has depreciated.

    My mom, on the other had, received money from her parents when they died and bought her home outright. She doesn’t have a mortgage, but she also retired early, and doesn’t have a job. She has recently stopped offering to pay her portion of the bill when we go out to eat with her, instead sitting quite entitled while we pay before the bill. She often doesn’t say thank you. She does tell us all about the many friends she treats to dinner or lunch in fancy restaurants for their birthdays, and took a fancy vacation to the coast. She mentions living with my sister or me later in life.

    My parents were emotionally and mentally abusive to my sister and me. Them living with me or my family is not an option. Still, I feel a sense of dread about what is to come when they run out of whatever money they have. I definitely think they feel a sense of entitlement. My husband and I are trying to provide for our three small children, and work hard to be frugal and pay off my student loan debt (our only debt).

    I don’t think your blanket response to this crises is fair to the many situations out there. The idea that because someone is a parent, they are entitled to latch on to their children for financial security is absurd and unacceptable. Especially when they themselves received support from their own parents. I think you are correct that those families who had parents who had a stroke of bad luck, but who prepared for retirement may need some assistance later in life, but those whose parents are spending while expecting their children to foot the bill are sorely mistaken. I know my heart will break over this situation.

    • Allison says

      I agree with you 100%. My divorced parents are terrible at managing finances and never prepared for retirement. They are both emotionally toxic and I have rocky relationships with both of them. Both of them received substantial financial assistance from their parents (my mom’s father lived with us growing up and paid our mortgage and most of our bills until he passed away, drained dry of every penny he ever had) and my dad has been living with his parents ever since the divorce (over 20 years ago, and nothing saved up!!!). They are both turning 63 this year. My mom at least has a teachers pension and has started drawing SS but retired early (bad financial decision) and my dad has been hopping around from job to job ever since his teaching contract was not renewed about 15 years ago, so I’m not quite sure if he is eligible for teachers pension or not, or what his SS will look like when he begins drawing. My husband and I have worked very hard to create a loving, stable home environment for our young children and have been very cognizant of planning for our own retirement, our children’s education, having an adequate savings, etc. I refuse to buy in to the idea that I will have to financially support both of my financially irresponsible parents or have them live in my stable home that I created and poison it with their toxicity. This article definitely does not take into account the individual situations of why so many in this generation are in this boat- because they simply failed to plan and had been enabled their whole lives, even up into their 60s.

  23. Cam says

    First off thank you. I’m embarrased to say that I cry myself to sleep night due to this. My father (68yrs) is truly the greatest man there is. He’s incredible. Unfortunately he’s not stable financially and lost his job about a year ago. He recently started working full time midnight shift (10pm-7am) for a security company. They pay him just over minimum wage and it’s simply not enough.

    I love him so much but I worry about him constantly. He hasn’t had the best health the last few years and started to faint periodically and his hands shake a lot. I think he has a lot of regrets financially that he buries deep but I know it hurts him.

    I’m a 31 yr old chef. A somewhat successful one but my career isn’t very lucrative. I put many years in making next to nothing so I have had a late start as well. I am def making up for the late start when I can but I lost my job too back in January. I just want to help him and I can’t or haven’t found a way yet. It shouldn’t be this way. It breaks my heart to see such a wonderful person just struggling. He was a successful buisness man his whole life (yes he waisted his money for material objects) but seeing him put on his securitas uniform to go work the midnight shift kills me and him. He’s such a proud man I see a piece of him die when he puts it on or talks about what he does. He works far away too so after gas etc. he clears like 275 a week. To anyone who says he needs to (lay in the bed he made or whatever) I don’t want to hear it. He’s the best and deserves a decent retiree life. I guess I need to figure out how to assist him with it.

    Sorry for the rant. I don’t tell anyone about this or how I feel. Thank you.

  24. A says

    My parents are only 51 so they are at least a decade from retirement, but I just don’t see them ever being able to retire. They are underwater on their mortgage, owe 20k+ in credit card debt, another 25k on a car note, and live paycheck to paycheck so there is little in the way of retirement savings.

    Maybe I’m alone on this, but I feel no financial responsibility towards them. They stopped buying me anything other than basic necessities when I was 11, meanwhile they blew money on new cars, hardwood floors, a hot tub, expensive electronics, etc. I can vividly remember our kitchen having nothing other than juice, sugary breakfast cereals, and frozen waffles in it, but there was always money to order takeout and eat out multiple times a week. Once I got a job at 16, it only got worse and I was paying for all of my basic necessities besides housing. Consequently, they never helped me with big ticket items such as a car or college expenses (literally not a single dime) and I graduated college saddled with a huge student loan debt and didn’t get my first car until I was almost 23 and could afford to buy one myself.

    I need to worry about paying off my student loans, my own mortgage, saving for my children to attend college, as well as for my own retirement. My budget wouldn’t allow me to help them even if I wanted to, and I don’t feel that I have any obligation to anyway given that their irresponsibility and bad habits caused me to have to do without so many times throughout my life.

  25. Anne says

    My husband has parents without medical aid because they cannot afford it (they have been without a job and have debts and live in with my husbands sister). I know his family has asked him before for money to help them out, and he does this, without consulting with me (we both earn a salary, but he earns the main salary). I asked him the other day what he would do if his parents get into a medical emergency and his answer was that he would spend all his savings on it. Now on the one hand I can understand his reaction, because you know, it is his parents. But on the other hand I felt horrible, and I have so much financial insecurity now, all the savings he worked hard for and are important for our own future and that of our children and then there might be a moment that suddenly all this money disappears. For example if one of his parents gets cancer. We are in our early 30s and trying for our first pregnancy, and I feel worried now as I think our little starting family should be his first priority. What would you guys advise?

    • Ken says

      Your situation is better than my situation. My mom died when I was 22 years old in 2013 from lung cancer. Long story short. I have to go back to school to get my GED. Its been 3 years I’m ready take my GED this year I have to relearn everything from high school. My dad retired in 2015. Been 3 years he depends on me Im not working right now. I have 3 others siblings try to keep roof over their heads. I’m applying for jobs waiting. He is a hoarder and he is in debt his self. He don’t want to work at all. His back always hurts and he complains about everything he is only 67 ready be 68 in July. In other words Keep your head up.

  26. Helen says

    I also worry about my 60 year old mom. She has not worked since she was 40 years old. She lives with her boyfriend and she stays home.
    I worry about what happens when her boyfriend passes away.
    Will he leave her anything? How will she survive? Does she even think about these things?

    I have to get over the awkwardness and ask her these questions.
    I just have a feeling it will all fall on me.
    And what are you supposed to do? Refuse to take care of your parents when they need you?
    Watch them become homeless, begging for change on a corner street?

  27. Linda Martin says

    Sadly, I am that parent. I raised two children on a single parent income with no room for any real savings and no home ownership. I was recently forced out of my rental (rent kept going up and up and up), and moved across the country to be closer to my oldest. I am intelligent, a college grad with a healthcare degree, and now I can’t find a job in my field. I am 61. You can’t even imagine the heartache, shame, and darkness I have knowing I am such a burden on my oldest son.

  28. BB says

    Cashmoney, If boomers were not getting an annuity or pension and or were not in the upper percent of income earning a minimum of six figures in latter years they were in a sinking elevator.

    After WW2, a family could exist for most families on only 1 income and home purchase and car costs compared to weekly salary versus home and car costs today were much lower.

    Around the 1970s replacing pensions with 401K was a questionable concept as most 401K are not your fiduciary and have no responsibility to help you get the best returns. Operational fees are usually high due to this.

    The average worker works for a small company that has no financial advice for your use. Larger companies have better choices and usually allow employees to access the investment advisor. Expecting all citizens to be their own financial advisor is long term unwise. All the poor folk you will pay for in hospitals and state homes unless future generations are OK seeing mom and pop living in a cardboard box on a sidewalk. There are plenty of cruel folk out there who feel this way

    The lower paid wage earners need heaps of help and advice on financial planning ( usually paying for a licensed profession) expecting every citizen to be a PRO (when its a full time paid career for planners) in this regard is just again not wise and not possible to do for many.

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