MetLife Mature Market Institute has published tips to help consumers with intergenerational financial planning. The tips were developed based on responses to a January 2012 survey conducted by MetLife in which respondents said they wanted to help provide for their family members in certain situations.
"In our study, we determined that people provide financial assistance to family members out of a combination of love and need,” Sandra Timmermann, director of the MetLife Mature Market Institute, said in a statement.
Timmerman noted, for example, that parents agree they want to help their children pay for college tuition or help them financially through an emergency caused through no fault of their own. However, parents said they wouldn’t pay college costs that were too high, or help pay down debt brought on by overspending.
In the tips, “Preparing for Family Financial Responsibilities Across the Generations,” MetLife encourages consumers to take stock of their financial situation and focus on their own needs before committing to others. Consumers are asked questions to determine how many people are financially dependent on them, and how much that dependence will cost over the years. The tips then point out that to be of assistance to others, consumers need to take good care of themselves. With 86% of respondents in MetLife’s January study saying they have a “strong or absolute responsibility” to save enough to avoid depending on family members in retirement, it’s clear that consumers should make their own financial situation a priority.
MetLife acknowledges that love, rather than a sense of obligation, is a main reason consumers want to support their children financially. However, in the tips, MetLife encourages people to consider practical gifts like money for education or furniture for a new house.
“We found that people must examine their own financial status and make decisions about how to assist their family members based on their ability to do so, the real needs of their parents and children and a look down the road at how each party will be able to deal with change and unexpected pitfalls," said Timmermann.