Most grandparents are family's safety net

Sept. 6, 2012 at 10:12 PM
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NEW YORK, Sept. 6 (UPI) -- U.S. grandparents are a financial safety net for their children and grandchildren, but they may need the cash themselves, a survey indicates.

"Grandparents Investing in Grandchildren: The MetLife Study on How Grandparents Share Their Time, Values and Money," conducted by the MetLife Mature Market Institute in conjunction with Generations United, a multi-generational advocacy organization, found 62 percent of grandparents provided financial support -- averaging $8,289 -- to grandchildren in the past five years. Most of the money was for investment and education, the survey found.

The survey also found 20 percent of grandparents were living in multi-generational households -- 30 percent have grandchildren living with them, while 35 percent live with an adult child only.

Forty-three percent attributed the economic downturn as the reason for financial support, while 34 percent said they were helping despite their belief that such assistance would have a negative effect on their own finances, the survey said.

"The bad news is that grandparents are making financial sacrifices that could cost them when they find themselves short of the savings they need to support themselves in retirement. There is a need to balance what they're giving with what they can afford to give," Sandra Timmermann, director of the MetLife Mature Market Institute, said in a statement. "It's recommended grandparents seek financial advisers and education resources to guide them through the process of giving."

The survey, conducted by Harris Interactive, of 1,008 grandparents age 45 or older was conducted April 4-11. No margin of error was provided.

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