Is Your Adult Child Sending You to the Poorhouse?

by Fran Trelease and Randye Spina

The word is out – parents nearing retirement should NOT sacrifice their financial stability by absorbing their adult children’s debt. Yet that advice – as sound as it is – bumps up against a starting reality. Today’s millennials – those born between the early 1980s and the late 1990s – are saddled with more debt than the generations before them. And many are turning to their parents and grandparents for help.

There’s a societal cost that goes with that mounting debt, which goes beyond steep monthly payments. Many millennials try to cut costs by moving back in with their parents. That slows the real estate market. They put off marriage and families. That slows independence. And they feel less financially secure than their Boomer and Gen X parents; a trend that goes against the very fiber of the American dream., a marketplace for student loan consolidation, says “more than 45 million student borrowers lug around a combined $1.45 trillion they haven’t paid back yet…” Tuition has skyrocketed 35% over the past five years - and student loans come due after six months.

The stats are somewhat sobering, but also a reminder that there are many in the same boat:  

  • Just 27% of new college grads will have a career job waiting for them.

  • Close to one-fifth of new college grads search a year or more for that first career job.

  • Only 2% of applicants ever get called for an interview.  Yet, the time spent reading resumes is 6 seconds or less.

Parents step in to help, but at a cost. New Jersey, Connecticut and New York lead the nation in having the highest percentage of millennials living with their parents, according to a WalletHub study last year.  A 2017 TD Ameritrade study found that “Boomers are losing on average $11,011 yearly to their millennial kids.” This comes in the form of cash support and unpaid labor, such as babysitting and housework.

If you’re the parent of a job-seeking millennials, here are a few suggestions to turn the tide – that won’t hurt your pocketbook. Guide them to:

1.      Search for cities where the cost of living is lower.

2.      Consolidate debt and keep their credit rating high.

3.      Learn some basic DIY skills:  cut household costs by learning the basics of carpentry, plumbing and electrical repair.        

4.      Prioritize smallest debts first. Find and share stories of people who’ve successfully climbed out of steep debt, one step at a time. 

5.      Avoid comparison with friends and neighbors

  • Get them off social media, which gives a fake image of prosperity.

6.      Prepare them for the professional job search, so they can:

  •  Learn to better research their industry, and companies that are hiring

  •  Assess the competition

  •  Brush up on “soft skills” that will set them apart.

Recent graduates have a hill to climb.  Nine out of 10 hiring managers say new college grads are unprepared for job market and fewer than half of employers think new grads have professional skills.  Only one-fifth of graduating college seniors feel prepared for their professional career.

A well-paying, professional job can be step one toward tackling student debt head on. And the right job comes from preparation.  According to surveys, half of new college grads want better access to career preparation tools and training.  They’re right. 

Make sure your millennial knows how to separate themselves from the competition. The marketplace is flooded with skilled job candidates. Guide them toward the tools that will help them stand apart.


Fran Trelease and Randye Spina are co-founders of Millennial Den, which provides new and recent college grads with the professional readiness training needed to successfully transition from student to career-ready employee in today’s challenging job market. Their services include a boot-camp style program available online as well as One-on-One private and customized career coaching. The business, launched earlier this year, is based in Seymour. For more information, contact The Den Mothers at (475) 999-4314 or

Views expressed in perspeCTive columns are those of the author and not necessarily CT by the Numbers.