Well Into Adulthood and Still Getting Money From Their Parents - Kanebridge News
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Well Into Adulthood and Still Getting Money From Their Parents

Nearly 60% of parents provide financial help to their adult kids, a new study finds

Fri, Jan 26, 2024 10:09amGrey Clock 4 min

Parents have always supported their children into adulthood, from funding weddings to buying a home. Now the financial umbilical cord extends much later into adulthood.

About 59% of parents said they helped their young adult children financially in the past year, according to a report released Thursday by the Pew Research Center that focused on adults under age 35. (This question hadn’t been asked in prior surveys.) More young adults are also living with their parents. Among adults under age 25, 57% live with their parents, up from 53% in 1993.

Parental support is continuing later in life because younger people now take longer to reach many adult milestones—and getting there is more expensive than it has been for past generations, economists and researchers said. There is also a larger wealth gap between older Americans and younger ones, giving some parents more means and reason to help. In short, adulthood no longer means moving off the parental payroll.

“That transition has gotten later and later, for a lot of different reasons. Now it’s age 25, 30, 35, 40,” said Sarah Behr, founder of Simplify Financial Planning in San Francisco.

Kami Loukipoudis, a 39-year-old director of design, and husband Adam Stojanik, a 39-year-old high-school teacher, knew they would need parental assistance to buy in New York’s expensive home market.

“We could pay a mortgage, but that down payment was the absolute crusher,” Stojanik said. “The idea of trying to save up on our own—as long as we were paying rents in NY, would’ve taken 300 years.”

Loukipoudis’s mother gave them the money for a 10% down payment on a two-bedroom apartment in the New York borough of Queens.

The young-adult allowance

Adult children aren’t necessarily getting larger checks from their parents, but they are staying on the parental payroll for longer than previous generations, according to Marla Ripoll, professor of economics at the University of Pittsburgh who studied the trend by analysing payments from parents to adult children over a 20-year span.

Ripoll found that 14% of adult children receive a transfer of money from their parents at least once in any given year, and roughly half get financial help at some point within that period. Those rates have been stable for years. What has changed is that the transfers now continue for much longer, she found. This longer-term help might be a drag on social mobility, as it becomes even harder for young people from lower-income families to catch up, researchers said.

Of the young adult children who said they received financial help from a parent in the past year, most said they put it toward day-to-day household expenses, such as phone bills and subscriptions to streaming services like Netflix, according to the Pew survey.

The amount of money and the frequency of help varies by age; those on the older end of the 18-to-34 cohort are far likelier to say they are completely financially independent from their parents compared with younger adult children, as many in the latter group are completing their education. Nearly a third of young adult children between the ages of 30 and 34 say they still get parental help.

Heather McAfee, a 33-year-old physical therapist in Austin, Texas, said she lived at home between 2019 and 2021; otherwise she wouldn’t have been able to make progress paying down her student loans while rent prices in her area remained so high. The plan worked—she has since reduced her student-debt balance from $83,000 to $15,000.

“It helped tremendously,” she said. “I didn’t have to take out more loans to pay for apartment living or anything like that. That stress was gone.”

Setting limits on financial help

A little more than half of parents surveyed said that having their adult children home brought them closer together or improved their relationship, but nearly 20% said it dented their personal finances.

Financial advisers often find themselves in the tricky position of speaking to both ends of the equation: adult children who need assistance and the parents determined to help children well into middle age, within limits.

Whereas previous generations would step into a greater sense of financial independence in their early 20s, young adult children today are often unable to reach similar markers of such independence—living on their own or buying their first home, for example—without greater financial resources.

Families typically don’t set concrete rules around when financial help will happen and what the money is used for, which can result in surprises down the road, Behr said.

In one case, Behr’s clients received the down payment they needed to purchase a condo from a generous mother-in-law. Years later, that same mother-in-law told them she expected a payout once the couple sold the home.

The hand-me-down payment

Down-payment help from parents—a given for many first-time home buyers—is growing thanks to higher home prices and elevated mortgage rates.

About a fifth of first-time home buyers said they got help from a relative or friend when pulling together the money needed for a down payment, according to a 2023 survey of home buyers and sellers from the National Association of Realtors. And 38% of home buyers under age 30 received help with the down payment from their parents, according to a survey this spring by Redfin.

Wealthy families often go further than helping with the down payment. They become a true bank of mom and dad and write a mortgage. The Internal Revenue Service sets minimum levels of interest for such loans, which remain significantly cheaper than current mortgage rates.

Timothy Burke, chief executive at National Family Mortgage, which facilitates such loans, said parents are often frustrated on behalf of their house-hunting children. High interest rates and the cutthroat housing market are holding their children back from reaching a milestone the parents themselves were more easily able to access.

Mei Chao, a 41-year-old stay-at-home mom, and her husband, William Chao, a 44-year-old information-technology specialist, bought their first house as a couple in 2017. They relied on financial help from her husband’s two sisters and his mother to help them bridge a gap in their house-buying timeline. While they waited to sell William’s Manhattan condo, they used the money from the family to purchase the new house in Queens.

The structure of the agreements got tricky. After selling the condo in Manhattan, Mei and her husband were able to repay his sisters in full. But they didn’t have enough money left over from the sale to do the same for Mei’s mother-in-law. So they kept the mother-in-law’s name on the deed to the house—a concession Mei said they were both more than happy to make.

“Ultimately, it all worked out. I’m glad his mother pushed us,” Mei said. “Without her help, I could not say we would have this home.”


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The S&P 500 index has been crushing private-equity returns in the past year, and Blackstone ’s second-quarter results illustrate that trend.

As part of its earnings release early Thursday Blackstone said its corporate private-equity returns in the year ending in June were 11.3%. That compares with a 24.5% total return for the S&P 500.

In the prior year ending in June 2023, the S&P 500 topped Blackstone with a 19.4% return against 9.7% for the firm’s corporate private-equity business, which has $145 billion of assets and remains one of its most important areas along with real estate.

Blackstone is the leading alternatives firm with over $1 trillion in assets under management and has the largest market value of any public investment firm at more than $160 billion.

Driven by Nvidia , Microsoft , Apple , Amazon and other big technology stocks, the S&P 500 has handily topped most asset classes in the past several years.

Another sign of more difficult times for private equity came earlier this week from Calpers, the $503 billion California pension fund, when it reported it s preliminary returns for its fiscal year ending in June . Calpers is one of the first major endowments or pension funds to report results for the June fiscal year. undefined The pension fund, a major player in private equity, said its private-equity investments gained 10.9% net of fees—although that figure is lagged one quarter. Calpers’ public-equity investments were up 17.5% in the year ended June—its strongest asset class. Private equity remains a favorite of many pension funds and leading university endowments like those of Harvard and Yale. Their view is that private equity can beat public-market returns over the long term.

But the private-equity business has gotten tougher in recent years due to keen competition for deals, higher interest rates and a less receptive IPO market, which has made exits tougher.

And private-equity portfolios of firms like Blackstone look nothing like the S&P 500, given their investments in small to midsize companies.

Blackstone, for instance, bought a majority stake in Emerson’s climate technologies business last year and more recently purchased Tropical Smoothie, a franchiser of fast-casual cafes. It also holds a stake in Bumble, the publicly traded online dating site, and it’s an investor in actress Reese Witherspoon’s media company, Hello Sunshine. Blackstone’s corporate private-equity business runs $145 billion and has 82 investments, according to the firm’s website.

Blackstone’s private-equity business has strong long-term returns including a gain of over 50% in the year ended in June 2021 when it handily topped the S&P 500 index.

But the S&P 500 index has become difficult to beat more recently and it’s dominated by some of the best companies in the world. It carries less risk than private equity, given the cash-rich balance sheets of its leading companies like Apple , Microsoft and Alphabet .

Private-equity firms, by contrast, often use considerable leverage to boost returns. Investors can get exposure to the S&P 500 through index funds that charge 0.1% or less in annual fees and with immediate liquidity.

A key risk with the S&P 500 is its vulnerability to a selloff in the leading tech firms that now make up over 40% of the index. The recent rotation into smaller companies illustrates that.

Blackstone shares gained 1.1% to $136.31 Thursday in the wake of its earnings news as investors focused on rising investment deployments and positive management comments on the firm’s outlook.

The firm’s nearly $40 billion of inflows and $34 billion of capital deployment during the second quarter marked “the highest level of investment activity in two years,” Chief Executive Officer Stephen Schwarzman said in a statement.

Citi analyst Christopher Allen wrote in a note to clients on Thursday that while Blackstone’s overall performance was mixed, the outlook appears to be improving given fund-raising and deployment trends.

Investors also were heartened by Blackstone President Jon Gray’s comments about a bottoming in commercial real estate and strong capital deployment in that area.

But ultimately, the game for Blackstone and its alternatives peers is about performance—particularly beating low-fee public investments like the S&P 500. That seems to be getting more difficult.