Young parents with child They could have a two-decade financial commitment ahead of them. (Photo: Shutterstock)

Three in four investors in a new study from Ameriprise Financial said achieving financial success had been as easy or easier for them than it was for their parents at the same age. However, half of study participants expected it to be harder for the next generation in their family to feel comfortable financially.

The study looked at how attitudes toward conventional financial goals and retirement have shifted across generations, and how those changes influence investors’ relationship with money.

Artemis Strategy Group conducted an online survey in December among 3,008 U.S. adults 30 to 69 who had at least $100,000 in investable assets.

The study found that many investors are currently providing more financial support to their children than they received from their own parents.

Eighty-seven percent of respondents said they had or planned to help their children pay for their college education. This compared with 64% who said they had received assistance from their parents for their own college education.

In what Ameriprise called a surprising finding, 33% of respondents reported that they had delayed their own retirement or would do so to help their offspring pay for college. Only 10% of respondents said their parents had made this same sacrifice for them.

“Parents delaying their retirement to pay for their children’s college education could be a potential red flag,” Marcy Keckler, vice president of financial advice strategy at Ameriprise Financial, said in a statement. “As individuals juggle competing financial goals, they should have a plan in place to ensure they’re not sacrificing their financial future in order to fund other priorities.

“You only get one shot at saving for retirement, so it’s critical to keep it front and center.”

Fifty-four percent of study participants said their parents had helped pay for their first car, while 80% said they either intended to or had already helped pay for their own children’s first vehicle.

Not only that, the study showed that financial support from modern parents often continues in adulthood. Seventy-eight percent of investors said they had or planned to assist their children financially with wedding expenses. Forty percent said they would help finance a first home purchase.

Reflecting back on their experiences as young adults, 51% of respondents said their parents had helped pay for their nuptials, but only 19% had received help from their parents for their first home.

Seven in 10 investors said owning a home was as good an investment today as it was a decade ago. Indeed, nine in 10 reported that they were homeowners.

But the idea of homeownership as a good investment was not the primary reason many respondents said they had bought their home. The No. 1 driver was that it gave them “a sense of pride in being a homeowner.”

The relatively few respondents who identified themselves as renters said the main reason they did not own a home was that renting provided more flexibility. Renters in the study said they were applying the money they could have used to buy a home toward other financial goals: 71% to save for retirement and 55% for travel.

Still Taboo

Half of investors maintained that discussions around money were as much of a taboo today as they were a decade ago. However, this sentiment is gradually shifting, according to the study.

It found that younger generations were more open than their elders to discussing money matters with others. Twenty-six percent of millennials surveyed said they talked with their friends about how much they had spent on a major purchase, compared with 18% of Gen Xers and 12% of baby boomers who did so.

Millennials were also likelier that Gen Xers and boomers to talk with their friends about their salary and how much money they had invested.

Those who reported having had conversations about money said they did so to learn more about managing their finances — something they could teach others.

“Talking about money pays off,” Keckler said. “Our research finds that investors who have more financial confidence are more likely to speak with others about money.”

She said consulting a financial professional could be especially helpful for those who find money topics difficult to discuss.

— Check out When It Comes to Finance, the Kids Are Not All Right: Survey on ThinkAdvisor.