Sometimes the kids need a push

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Chances are your adult children may take your help when money is tight, but at the same time, they probably don’t want your financial advice.

A new study from Fidelity Investments reports that 33 percent of millennials — average age 30 — say they trust financial advice from their parents the most, but 27 percent say they share no details of their financial life with them.

Nevertheless, two-thirds of millennials surveyed say they believe it is more acceptable than it used to be for adult children to move back home after college, and 32 percent admit that they are more financially dependent on their parents than their parents were at the same age.

This jives with an Experian Consumer Services study released earlier this year. It found that 75 percent of millennials would ask their parents to cosign for them if they couldn’t get a loan and 77 percent thought their parents would agree.

How to communicate with your grown kids

If this sounds familiar, what should you as a boomer parent be saying to your millennial children to help them achieve financial independence and prepare for retirement — even though you may have limited credibility with your offspring? Kristen Robinson, senior vice president, Women and Young Investors at Fidelity, offered these suggestions:

  • Tell them it is critical to contribute to their tax-advantaged 401(k) or other company retirement plan, especially if they are offered a company match. Point out that if they don’t save enough to get the whole match, they’ll be walking away from money.
  • Suggest they make saving in an emergency fund their next priority. If they have a little money in the bank, they’ll be less likely to run up the balance on their credit cards or borrow from their 401(k) plan — or you — when the inevitable happens.
  • Encourage them to pay off debts. Advise them to start by getting rid of high-interest credit card debt first, then private student loans. “We consider government student debt and car loans good debt,” Robinson says.
  • Parents who can afford it might consider encouraging millennial children to improve their financial situation by matching their savings or loan pay-off efforts dollar for dollar. Robinson says this approach is popular among well-off parents and better than just paying off the debt yourself. “It insures that they have skin in the game.”
  • Get grandparents engaged. Grandparents are often of the Greatest Generation — people who remember the Great Depression and the tough years of World War II. “They can offer a lot of advice that has credibility with millennials, who went through the Great Recession. They have attitudes in common with the Silents,” Robinson says.
  • Help your grown children understand your own situation. Some 39 percent of millennials say they worry about money at least once a week. Understanding how you manage may help relieve some of that anxiety.
  • Work on your grandchildren. Teach them that saving is important.