20 Expenses Parents Should Stop Covering for Their Adult Children

It’s natural for parents to want to ease their children’s burdens, but paying for certain expenses of your young adult might do more harm than good, potentially delaying their journey toward full financial independence.

Grocery Bills


Frequently covering an adult child’s grocery bills can prevent them from learning to manage their food budget—a fundamental skill for living. It’s fine to occasionally treat them, but regular support can hinder their ability to plan and economize.

A study shows that young adults spend a significant portion of their food budget on prepared items and dining out, which can be extremely pricey. Guide them in exploring simple, cost-effective recipes and meal planning techniques to help them save money and promote healthier eating habits.

Cell Phone Expenses


Cell phones have become essential, yet it’s crucial for young adults to learn to manage these costs themselves. Initiating this change can start with a simple discussion. Let them know that while financial help is reasonable during their school years, taking on their cell phone bills is a significant step towards financial independence. 

Assist them in comparing different plans and understanding features such as data caps to prevent unexpected charges. Look into various options, including prepaid plans and family bundles, which might ease this transition.



Supporting your child in buying essential items like warm clothes or professional attire is one thing, but funding regular shopping sprees is another. Clothing expenses can add up, so teaching them to prioritize and budget is crucial. 

Encourage shopping at thrift stores, secondhand markets, and discount retailers to fashion a stylish yet affordable wardrobe. Highlighting the environmental and ethical issues of fast fashion can also teach them to shop more consciously, benefiting both their finances and the planet.

Personal Care


Maintaining appearance is important, but continuously paying for high-end beauty products or luxury treatments can be excessive. Guide your adult child in managing their beauty and grooming budget effectively. 

Many drugstore products offer quality alternatives to expensive brands, and the internet is rich with DIY beauty solutions and tutorials. Introduce them to budget-friendly versions of popular beauty products to help them maintain their style without overspending.

Fitness and Wellness 


It’s wonderful to see your child taking care of their health, but teaching them financial independence can encourage them to truly appreciate the value of the services they use. Encourage them to explore various budget-friendly fitness solutions, like outdoor activities, free online workout videos, or more affordable gym alternatives. 

Consider suggesting a “trial period” where they can experiment with different fitness options, as many fitness centers offer complimentary passes or short-term memberships. You also want to help them find enjoyable and economical ways to stay active, whether it’s through outdoor running, bodyweight exercises, or joining local sports teams.

Entertainment and Event Tickets


Many young adults love attending events like concerts and movies, but if these pleasures are always funded by others, they miss out on learning to manage entertainment expenses.

As a parent, you want to motivate your kids to allocate their own funds for such activities, which teaches them the importance of saving and the reward of self-financed fun.



Certain hobbies like photography and art can become costly. While it’s great to support their interests, it’s crucial for hobbyists to learn how to handle these costs effectively to fully appreciate and sustain their passion.

Discuss ways they can independently finance their hobbies, such as saving up, buying second-hand, or even earning money through their passion. Teaching them to be resourceful can make their hobbies more fulfilling and help them appreciate the value of their pursuits more deeply.

Subscriptions and Streaming Services


The monthly cost of streaming services can quickly accumulate. Encouraging adult children to cover their entertainment can help them become more conscious of their spending and improve their financial management skills. 

It also teaches them to evaluate which services they truly value. They might even explore the benefits of a public library, which often offers free access to ebooks, movies, and music. Encourage your adult children to inventory their subscriptions. They may be surprised by the total expense. 

Pet Costs


Pets are a source of joy but also a serious financial commitment. While helping out with unexpected vet expenses is understandable, regularly paying for pet care can impede learning important financial lessons.

Discuss the significant ongoing costs of pet ownership, such as food and regular medical care, to prepare them for the responsibilities. This can help them make informed decisions about pet ownership and budgeting. After all, not everyone is ready to adopt a pet. 

Discretionary Spending


Regularly paying for your adult child’s leisure activities, like dining out or attending concerts, can impede their financial responsibility and foster a sense of entitlement.

Advise them to allocate a specific amount each month for discretionary spending, helping them enjoy life while maintaining financial boundaries. Explore together free or low-cost alternatives such as picnics, game nights, or local festivals, which can be just as enjoyable without the high cost.

Extended Family Gifts


Paying for gifts that your adult child gives others, especially during holidays or special occasions, might seem generous but can prevent them from learning to budget for these expenses. 

Rather than covering the cost of gifts for them, encourage young adults to plan and save for their own gift-giving. This approach teaches them to manage their finances wisely and adds a meaningful touch to their acts of generosity.

Overdraft Fees


Frequent overdrafts can lead to substantial fees. While you might help out occasionally, it’s essential they learn to manage their finances to avoid these charges.

Review their banking habits together to spot what causes frequent overdrafts. Discuss options like overdraft protection and setting up alerts for low balances, which can help prevent future financial mishaps.

Home Décor and Furnishing Expenses


Supporting your adult child by financing their home decor and furnishings might make their space more comfortable, but it could prevent them from learning to budget and prioritize household expenses. 

Encourage them to gradually furnish their living space as their budget allows, which teaches them the value of saving and planning for home improvements.

Traffic Fines


Traffic tickets teach valuable lessons about responsibility and the consequences of one’s actions. Consistently paying these fines for them can dilute these lessons, promoting a disregard for rules.

Allow them to bear the consequences of their traffic violations. This experience is not only a financial lesson but also crucial for teaching them about safe driving practices and the broader implications of their actions.



While keeping up with the latest technology is great, routinely purchasing new gadgets for your adult children can prevent them from learning valuable financial lessons. 

Encourage them to save up for new electronics, which helps them differentiate between needs and wants and appreciate the value of their investments. This might remind them that not every trendy tech gadget is worth the expense.

Rent Costs


Covering rent for your adult child might seem helpful, but it can lead to unhealthy financial dependencies. If they’re aware that rent is covered, they might feel less motivated to manage their finances wisely. In cases where housing support is necessary, establish a clear plan that includes timelines, repayment schemes, or specific expectations. 

This approach can transform simple financial aid into an empowering tool, encouraging them to take charge of their housing expenses and paving the way for greater financial independence in the future.

Travel Experiences


While family vacations are enjoyable, continuously paying for an adult child’s travel can inhibit their financial independence. Teaching them to save for their own trips can enhance their budgeting skills and give them a sense of achievement.

If they dream of a specific destination, encourage setting up a travel fund. Assist them in breaking down the costs and devising a feasible savings strategy. Many travel resources offer advice on budget travel, off-season discounts, and maximizing their travel funds.

Mortgage Payments


Covering mortgage payments for your adult child can severely impede their financial independence and understanding of significant financial commitments. Encourage them to take responsibility for their own mortgage, which teaches them about real estate investment, interest rates, and the importance of timely payments. 

Supporting them in the initial process of securing a mortgage, such as providing advice or helping with the down payment, is helpful, but they should manage the ongoing payments themselves to build credit and financial resilience.

Seasonal Sports Passes or Club Memberships


Purchasing seasonal sports passes or club memberships for your young adult might seem helpful, but covering these costs can obscure their real interest and dedication. 

Encourage them to take responsibility for their own leisure expenses, which promotes commitment and aligns their investments with their passions.

Impulsive Spending


Impulse buying can undermine financial stability. If your adult child often relies on you to cover impulsive purchases, it’s time to address this behavior. Teach them the importance of thoughtful spending and strategies to control impulsive buying habits.

Encourage setting a waiting period for major purchases to help differentiate between needs and wants. Let them compare prices and consider pre-owned items, which can be just as satisfying and more budget-friendly!

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