Grandfather with money

The Bank of Grandma and Grandpa

As grandparents to nine, my husband and I have been enjoying the company of several of our youngest grandchildren lately. From newborn to age 14, it’s almost impossible to imagine any of them as adults. But someday, in the all too near future, they will be flying out on their own to start university, a new career, get married… It’ll happen faster than we want.

I come from an era where a good education meant a good job, and where hard work and sacrifice meant we could afford a vehicle, housing, and a family. In my parents’ generation, they did what was needed to buy their first home, only moving twice in 61 years. My father was a farmer, did custom work for the neighbours and had a trucking business. My mother stayed home to care for the children and manage a busy household.

My husband’s parents were immigrants. They came to Canada for a better life. They both had jobs, worked hard, and saved so they could have the Canadian dream of home ownership. Both of our parents did all of this on their own. And many of that generation did it on one income.

It would appear that those days are long gone, and changes in our economic structure and society has made it challenging for our adult children to cope. I am personally so grateful that our own children all have jobs, have started their families, and have purchased a home. But not every family today is that fortunate.

Like many parents, my husband and I have helped our children financially where possible, and overall they have managed mostly on their own. Yet, never has financial assistance been so important as it has been for this last generation.

Canadian buyers are increasingly turning to their parents, affectionately known as “the Bank of Mom and Dad”, for help with their down payments and even co-signing when buying a home. In fact, a report  from CIBC in 2021 found that roughly 30 per cent of first-time homebuyers and nearly nine per cent of existing homeowners received financial help from family this past year to purchase a home.

The current state of the housing market makes me wonder…. What on earth are our grandchildren going to do? Will they ever be able to pay for a good education or buy a home, or will that dream be a thing of the past? Will their parents (our children) be able to help them, or will they be so overextended that it just won’t be an option? Will this next generation be relying on the “Bank of Grandma and Grandpa”?

My husband and I have been squirreling money away in investments for many years for our retirement to cover healthcare needs, housing, in-home care. What didn’t dawn on us when we started saving is that we might need it to help our families afford a home. We certainly don’t intend to be the richest people in the cemetery, but it’s made us ponder whether we’ll have enough for our own retirement AND for helping bootstrap the next generation of our family.

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