New Survey: How Affluent Americans Handle Family Finances

in Market Commentary, Personal Finance Essentials by

Today we’re excited to share with you the results from our most recent survey breaking down how affluent American families handle their finances. We commissioned the Affluent Family Finances Survey through ORC International, which surveyed 1,001 parents in the United States with investable assets of $500,000 or more, to discover how affluent parents across generations – millennial, Gen X and baby boomer – view finances and their families.

The survey uncovered new and interesting findings within four areas critical to the finances of affluent families: education, weddings, home buying and ongoing financial support. What we learned is that with more money, comes many more demands.

Gen Z Expectations of Their Millennial Parents

When millennial parents were asked what they believed their Gen Z children will expect of them financially, their answers alluded to setting up their future generations in ways that haven’t been done before.

Compared to 69% of all parents, a whopping nine in 10 millennial parents say that their kids will expect them to pay for milestone purchases, such as college, weddings, and their first home.

With the rising costs of these big-ticket items, millennial parents are anticipating to foot some hefty bills, in a way not seen by prior generations. For example, 56% of millennial parents expect to pay $100,000 or more for their child’s college education. For the wedding, 45% plan to pay $50,000-plus, and 19% plan to pay $100,000-plus for their child’s big day.

It’s truly remarkable that millennial parents plan to take on so much of this financial responsibility, especially since according to a study we did just last year, approximately 40% of millennials overall don’t even have a retirement account. Not to mention, this most recent survey found that 70% of millennial parents say they would prioritize their child’s college education over their own retirement.

While it’s great to see the ambition being shouldered by this new generations of parents, it also means there’s more responsibility than ever for today’s parents to plan their financial futures carefully.

To Children of Affluent Parents, Money Does Grow on Trees

Of course, every parent wants to help their kid succeed. So, it comes as no surprise that across all generations, affluent parents have supported or plan to continuously support their children financially. However, what is surprising is that nearly two in 10 affluent parents plan to support their children into their 30s or beyond, with 13% of parents planning to continue supporting their children into their 40s and beyond.

More than half of parents said they have helped or plan to help their child financially when they buy a home, and of that half, and nearly half (45%) of parents overall have paid or expect to pay some or all of their child’s rent. In cities like San Francisco or a New York, where real estate comes at a premium whether you’re buying or renting, this can add up to quite an expense for those parents footing the bill.

We Need to Talk – About Our Finances

Affluent parents, across generations, are feeling increasing pressure from their children to provide longer term support; however, many are still uncomfortable talking about their finances. Ninety-seven percent of parents plan to leave behind a legacy, but only about half of the parents have disclosed their net worth to their children – and 22% never plan to tell their children their net worth. Yet of those planning to leave an inheritance, six in 10 think their children will be very responsible with the money.

So how can parents start the conversation when preparing to leave behind a legacy? Well, show them the money! Today, more than ever, kids are using devices and apps for almost everything. Personal Capital’s free dashboard is the perfect place to initiate a dialogue about net worth – what it is, what goes into it, and how it’s crucial to reaching your long-term goals. Our free financial tools allow you – and your family – to plan for future purchases – such as that expected wedding, college education, or retirement – and serve as a great kick-off for important financial conversations.

Our Takeaway

As a father myself, I believe families must begin engaging in these conversations in order to build more confidence that their children will be responsible with family finances. Personal Capital’s tools provide a comprehensive view of all the family accounts in one place, help families get on the same page about finances, literally and digitally. We are looking to spark eye-opening conversations among families to help them navigate their families’ finances and futures.

Read the full Affluent Family Finances Survey

Methodology
This report presents the findings of an online study conducted among a sample of 1,001 respondents ages 18 or older, are parents, and have total household investable assets of $500,000 or more. The sample for the study came from an online panel. Invitations to participate in the study were sent beginning on September 7, 2017 and data collection continued through September 13, 2017.

Respondents with multiple children were asked to focus on one child in the beginning of the survey, and were chosen through a random birthday selection.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have volunteered to participate in online surveys and polls. Because the sample is based on those who initially self-selected for participation, no estimates of sampling error can be calculated. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to multiple sources of error, including, but not limited to sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments.

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Jay Shah

Jay Shah

Jay is CEO of Personal Capital. He has over 20 years of leadership experience at privately-held and public financial services and technology organizations, over half that time spent building & running consumer-direct FinTech companies like Personal Capital and E-LOAN.

2 comments

  1. Aaron

    This is extremely helpful, both as a millennial, as a parent, and as a business owner. I want to rear educated, financially-savvy kids who aren’t entitled. I want them to know that hard work pays big dividends and that investing in oneself first earns the largest rewards over the long-term. I appreciate this article’s perspective.

    Reply
  2. davi

    I’ve been continuing to dig into the investment ideas of the world’s greatest billionaire investors and looking at how we can leverage their insights to our own advantage on our blog.

    Reply

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