By Clay Zachry, CFP®

When it comes to family finances, research shows that more than 50% of parents are supporting their adult children in a variety of ways, from paying groceries and cell phone bills to covering insurance and housing costs.¹ While a worthy endeavor, providing monetary assistance to grown children has the potential to sabotage retirement in the absence of sufficient capital.

Harris Financial Advisors helps parents prioritize their retirement needs first, and then coaches them on how to “cut the apron strings” – if doing so will bolster their own financial future. A strategic financial plan helps illustrate what financial support parents should or shouldn’t extend, based on their specific retirement objectives. When planning their retirements, we first assist parents with:

• Prioritizing and quantifying retirement goals
• Analyzing cash flows and expenses
• Creating “what-if” scenarios to illustrate the impacts of specific spending decisions
• Adjusting retirement “levers” to help clients pursue their own personal vision of retirement
• Quantifying risk tolerances for portfolio management
• Engineering optimal investment portfolios

Through our strategic financial planning process, parents typically gain valuable insight into their long-term financial position. If it is financially prudent to support their adult children in some way, we help parents establish realistic ground rules – mainly, the type and amount of assistance they will provide, as well as a timeline for how long they will provide it. Such conversations are important factors in moving grown children toward financial independence. Financial independence is a “win” for both parents and their children in the long run.²

If you are a parent who is planning for retirement while continuing to provide financial assistance to your otherwise-independent adult children, we are here to help you plan for a rewarding and well-deserved retirement. Contact Harris Financial Advisors today for a consultation on how to “cut the apron strings.”


1. Coombes, Andrea. “Parent Trap: Supporting an adult child will cost both of you.” Nerdwallet, 6 December 2017.

2. Loudenbeck, Tanza. “Parents are giving their children more money than ever, and experts say it’s a recipe for disaster.” Business Insider, 25 March 2019.