When Should You Start Cutting Off Your Children Financially?

Geoff Williams
(Motortion via Getty Images)

It’s a question that every parent needs to ask: When should I stop giving my kid money?

Do you stop paying for extras, and even not-so extras like clothes, the moment they start college? The moment they finish college? Or maybe you’re done once they have a full-time job with benefits? Or just any ol’ job after college? Or perhaps the moment they get some part-time fast food gig in high school you stop giving them the green stuff, other than room and board? Depending how you feel about kids and their independence, you could probably make a pretty persuasive argument for any of those scenarios.

Obviously, everybody’s financial situation is different, and there’s probably no right or wrong answer. Which may be both unsettling and comforting. But there probably is a good and bad way to go about giving your teenagers and then young adults money. So as you try to figure out when to stop or slow down on being the Bank of Mom or Dad, here are some questions to ask yourself.

Do I want my kid working at a job throughout college?

Often, colleges recommend that students work no more than 10 to 15 hours a week. And there’s a good reason for that: Many will advise students to plan on spending two hours of studying per one hour of classroom instruction. So if your kid has 12 hours a week of college courses, he or she should be studying 24 hours a week, which means that for 36 hours a week, your kid’s brain should be engaged in academics. The ideal situation, of course, is having your kid either earning a little part-time money or not working at all. In which case, either way, you probably will be subsidizing your kid’s lifestyle to some extent for several more years.

Assuming you and your kid think that’s reasonable, “you will need to contribute almost all of the same financial amount as when he was living at home,” says Daniel Hill, a certified financial planner and president of the Richmond, Virginia-based firm D.R. Hill Wealth Strategies. “While...

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