If you're in the over 40 crowd, working hard on a good job and wondering why in the world you still aren't where you thought you would be by now, you're not alone. You've tried hard to play by the rules and made sacrifices, but you just can't catch a break, or catch up.
A new survey from Ameriprise, the Money Across Generations II study answers the question to where the
heck your money is going. Your family. According to the study, more than half of baby boomers admit they've allowed their adult kids to move home and live rent free — but the support most provide their kids and aging parents is much, much more than a cot and a few hots. Truth is, boomers are putting their families' needs over their own, despite the fact that they have no clue how they are ever going to realistically retire in a style in which they've spent decades fantasizing about. [More from Forbes: The best cities for raising a family]
"Boomers are feeling the pressure financially and emotionally," said Suzanna de Baca, vice president of wealth strategies at Ameriprise Financial, in a prepared statement. "In many cases they're sandwiched between children who are unemployed or struggling to pay down their student loan debt and aging parents who are facing complex health and financial issues. At the same time, they're trying to prepare for their own retirement. The demands on their time and money can feel endless.
The news is depressing for sure. In 2007, when the original Money Across Generations study was conducted, 44 percent of boomers claimed they were trying to grow their saving. This time around, only 24 percent say are salting away money for the future. In fact, some 24 percent say they are simply trying to maintain what they have. Even maintaining the status quo is challenging because more than half said they helping mom and dad in some way, be it buying groceries or paying medical or utility bills. [More from Forbes: 20 crucial money questions to ask before marriage]
But boomers only have themselves to blame when it comes to their children. It's understood that you're going to provide some help for their college education, but more than 50 percent helped them buy a car. Many are also helping with health insurance, rent, utilities and car payments.
Boomers are in a bit of denial. Only 10 percent said helping their parents has slowed down their retirement savings, though one-third did admit that helping their kids has come at a price.
What's troublesome, is that while charity begins at home, truth is, many don't have the cash to afford them the luxury of being so generous. They're tapping savings, and because they have less wiggle room, they aren't
doing things like taking advantage of the opportunity to plunk down extra money with catch-up contributions in their retirement accounts. [More from Forbes: A financial checklist before starting a family]
No doubt, there are tough decisions to be made. It's family after all. While nearly 70 percent of those surveyed said they would keep on contributing to their retirement savings instead of helping a child pay off a credit card, it's tough to say no to an elderly parent. More than half said they would help a parent pay for long-term care insurance instead of contributing to their own retirement savings.
Even though boomers see themselves falling way behind in reaching their goals, nearly 90 percent that if they could push replay, they would again help out their kids, and some 20 percent said they felt guilty about not being able to provide financial assistance for them now. Meanwhile, boomers say they worry that their children haven't learned to be financially responsible. [More from Forbes: A 10-step financial plan for new parents]
Hello, bailouts lead to more bailouts, to more bailouts, no?
But the family saga gets even more interesting, when the survey reveals what the boomers' children say.
They blame mom and dad for their lack of financial savvy. More than half gripe that while growing up, their parents rarely talked to them about how they budgeted the family's money or the importance of saving for retirement. And while a majority say their parents' approach to spending and saving was fairly balanced, 30 percent feel their parent's attitude toward money was "live for today." Only 11 percent said their parents encouraged preparing for the unexpected. [More from Forbes: 5 places to save cash]
For sure family is a priority, but keep in mind what they tell you when you fly. Apply your own oxygen mask first.