How Much Can Parents Afford to Give to Their Millennial Children?

A new Ameriprise survey about millennials shows that is a question that may continue to come up during planning conversations.

By Eleanor O'Sullivan

A new study from Ameriprise Financial shows the impact adult children continue to have on their parents’ finances: 78% of millennials have received significant financial help from family.

That includes money for inheritances, college, cars and homes. Among millennials who recalled the amount they got, more than a quarter said they received $25,000 or more. Considering that 41% said they expect financial help in the future from family, the question of how much parents can afford to give is likely to continue coming up in financial planning conversations.

“We were surprised to see so many are counting on additional help down the road,” said Marcy Keckler, CFP, CRPC, RICP, senior vice president, financial advice strategy and marketing, Ameriprise Financial. “My message to them is to have a Plan B in case gifts don’t come through or don’t match their expectations in terms of size or timing. Millennials should control what they can control and save toward their own goals. That may mean delaying a major purchase until they save enough to reach the goal independently, but that’s a better alternative than incurring debt.”

Keckler acknowledged that it’s natural for parents to want to set their adult children and grandchildren up for success. “At the same time, it’s important to instill a sense of pride in having them stand on their own two feet,” she added. ”It’s a great feeling for people to know that they’ve been able to take smart, responsible steps with their finances — even in the face of challenges.”

The Ameriprise study of millennial investors surveyed 3,518 Americans, ages 26 through 77, in January/February 2023. Millennial respondents had $25,000 or more in investable assets, and Gen X and boomer respondents had $100,000 or more.

Goals for the millennial respondents include paying down debt (42%) and increasing income (54%). They’re worried about not being able to provide for their family (23%); losing their job (15%), and not having enough money to retire (12%).

About 80% of millennials have debt, with an average of $127,000. More than six in 10 (61%) have credit card debt, nearly half (47%) have a mortgage, one-third have student loan debt (32%) and about two in 10 (18%) have medical debt.

Parents should have conversations with an adult child about what they can do financially for him or her, Keckler said. “You don’t have to share the exact dollar amounts if you’re not comfortable doing so, but giving your children a general sense of your intentions can be beneficial to their own financial planning. A financial professional can also help initiate family conversations around money while giving you perspective on the most tax-efficient strategies,” she said.

Tax Concerns, Using An Advisor

Ameriprise’s research uncovered ways millennials can benefit from taking a deeper look at their own tax situation. According to the study, fewer than three in ten millennials (28%) consider tax diversification when investing for retirement, and more than one-quarter (27%) of millennials do not know the tax treatment of their investment accounts.

“In particular, millennials should consider whether opening a Roth IRA or converting their pre-tax IRA investments to a Roth account makes sense. Many millennials may enter higher tax brackets in the future as their career grows. While converting to a Roth generates a current-year tax bill, it could be less expensive based on millennials’ tax bracket today compared to where they expect to be in retirement,” Keckler said.

The study also found that when millennials use a financial advisor, they find balancing multiple financial priorities less challenging. They also feel more positive and in control of their financial situation, and are likely to be doing better financially compared with others their age.

Keckler said the study also showed millennials are concerned about inflation (90%), tax increases (84%), a recession (83%) and high interest rates (80%) impacting their financial situation in the next year.

“What was encouraging to me as a Certified Financial Planner professional (CFP®) is that nearly all (95%) millennials have acted to manage the challenges they’re facing. The steps they’re taking are music to my ears: 60% say they are spending less and almost half say they are saving more (48%),” she said.

“We were also pleasantly surprised to see that millennials have achieved financial milestones earlier than previous generations. Millennials are entering their peak earning years and are making good financial choices, giving them a solid financial foundation to stand on,” Keckler said.

More information on the study is available at

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