Caught in the Parent Trap: Why Markham Boomers Need Debt PlansApr 07, 2016
If you are part of the boomer generation, you may be ‘stuck’ financially in the parent trap. An entire generation of young adults is burdened with high student debt, while aging seniors are increasingly in need of emotional and financial assistance. Caught between these two generations are the boomers, who want – or need – to assist their adult children and their elderly parents, but may also be putting their own financial well-being at risk. As retirement creeps closer, it’s time for Markham boomers who find themselves in this predicament to focus on their own finances, particularly their retirement goals and debt repayment plans.
Three generations facing financial risk:
- Seniors now represent the group of Canadians that are increasing their debt levels more quickly than any other demographic. Furthermore, as seniors get older, they can become more financially vulnerable.
- The debt to income ratio now sits at approximately 171 per cent, meaning the average working Canadian now owes $1.71 for every dollar they make.
- The average student now graduates from an Ontario university with a student loan debt total of $26,480.
- One in four parents spend at least $500 a month to financially help their children with expenses such as groceries, rent and cellphone bills.
- Almost half of all Canadian parents would delay their retirement in order to financially assist their adult children.
Why the parent trap can be detrimental to your financial well-being
In their efforts to keep their children and their parents on track financially, boomers are often putting their imminent financial needs, such as retirement savings and debt repayment on the back burner. Although retiring with debt is a growing trend in Canada, it is a practice that can undermine financial stability. Think about the debts you carry now and how you would be able to manage your debt payments on a fixed income. What if your interest payments increased? Could you still comfortably make payments? When it comes to retirement, debt is best avoided.
Try to be honest with your family about finances
There are strategies to help release you from the parent trap. Start by being honest with your family, particularly your children, regarding your savings goals, your debt plans and your financial limitations. Although it may not be an easy conversation, discussing financial matters will help to ensure that everyone understands that there may be limits to the help that you can provide.
If debt is a concern with any member of your family, consider working together to find strategies to effectively reduce this debt. Are your adult children struggling to repay student debt? The government of Ontario website provides information on the government Repayment Assistance Plan that could help relieve some of the burden of student loans. Explore debt consolidation through a trusted lender; this strategy can help relieve high interest debt like credit card debt and bank loans. Finally, consider seeking debt advice. A credit counsellor or a Licensed Insolvency Trustee can provide debt assistance by exploring options for debt relief for your children, yourself or your parents.
Are you a boomer experiencing the parent trap – trying to help your adult children with their finances? Are you worried about your own financial well-being? Share your thoughts on Twitter at #LetsTalkDebt.