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In the upcoming second season of our personal finance podcast Stress Test, we’ll look at the common but rarely discussed phenomenon of parents providing financial help to their adult children.

This support goes well beyond cash for down payments on a house or condo, which has long been part of the homebuying process. Even before the pandemic, parents were helping adult kids with rent, student debt and also with regular expenses such as cellphone bills. No one talks about this help, and there hasn’t been much in terms of studies or surveys.

As a result, we’re trying to gather our own information about parental financial help for members of Gen Z and millennials, which is to say 20- and 30-somethings. Stress Test is a judgement-free zone. We want to understand and describe what’s happening, not make pronouncements about how today’s young people are too this or don’t have enough of that.

It seems obvious to us that the economy is the reason why this help is necessary. Young workers are the expendables. They are the hardest-hit group in the pandemic in a financial sense and, even before that, were stuck in a “gig economy” that offered short-term contracts with no benefits or pension.

Help us better understand the extent to which parents are helping adult kids financially by filling out this short poll. We are not asking for any private information. The results will be shared in this newsletter and also used in the Stress Test podcast – Season Two will be released in November.

What kind of new, hidden, common or extreme parental financial aid are you seeing? Has the pandemic impacted this? If you have a personal story on this topic you’d feel comfortable sharing with us, please reach out.

How much financial help are parents giving young adults? Click here to vote in our poll.

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Rob’s personal finance reading list

This is the premium you pay for online grocery shopping

A look at the cost disadvantage of ordering groceries online. Topical as COVID-19 cases rise and people consider whether to ramp up their physical distancing again.

King of cashback credit cards

With travel still largely out of the question as a result of the pandemic, cashback credit-card rewards continue to make a lot of sense. Here are the best in this category, as chosen by

The 411 on tenant’s insurance

If you rent, you need this kind of insurance. Here’s a primer on what you need to know and should expect to pay in premiums (less than home owners).

The bank of grandma and grandpa

We know about the bank of mom and dad, the phrase commonly used to describe parents providing financial support for adult children. Now for an accountant’s take on the bank of grandma and grandpa – grandparents helping grandkids with gifts of money or bequests.

Ask Rob

Q: Why are Canadians charged a higher management expense ratio for exchange-traded funds? Example: The iShares Core S&P 500 Index ETF (XUS-TSX) has an MER of 0.1 per cent, while the iShares Core S&P 500 ETF (IVV-A) has an MER of 0.03 per cent.

A: This sort of pricing differential is baked into pretty much every investment product and service in Canada. Our market is smaller in size than the United States and dominated in some categories by a small number of competitors. ETFs are some of the most competitively priced products for Canadian investors. The fees we pay have been steadily creeping lower in recent years, and that should continue. Note that you could buy IVV instead of XUS, but the cost of having your Canadian dollars exchanged into U.S. dollars by your broker would offset the lower fee savings in the near term.

Send us your money questions. Globe and Mail personal finance editor Roma Luciw will tackle questions about money and parenting, and I’ll tackle the rest. Sorry we can’t answer every one personally. Questions and answers are edited for length and clarity.

Today’s financial tool

My Money in Canada is a website created to help newcomers to Canada successfully manage their money.

The money-free zone

The Curtis Mayfield song Move on Up came up on the back end of my morning run the other day, and I pretty much flew home.


Recent Globe and Mail personal finance-related stories
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  • Ontario eyes converting emergency pandemic measures on wills into permanent legal reforms (for Globe Unlimited subscribers)

More Rob Carrick and money coverage

Subscribe to Stress Test on Apple podcasts or Spotify. For more money stories, follow me on Instagram and Twitter, and join the discussion on my Facebook page. Millennial readers, join our Gen Y Money Facebook group.

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