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We’ve all heard that 80 is the new 60 and 60 is the new 40, but should 28 really be the new 18?

It sounds like it is. A survey by brokerage Charles Schwab (Stock Quote: SCHW) finds that parental support keeps going, and going, and going and that means the chicks, instead of flying the nest, are evolving into leeches.

Schwab’s 2010 Families & Money Survey concludes that “the road to financial independence stretches out much farther for today’s young adults.” The survey found that among parents of 23- to 28-year-olds, 41% continue some level of financial support for their children. Just 35% expect their children to achieve complete financial independence by age 30.

At the same time, 85% of parents with “sandwich generation” children say they were fully independent of their own parents by 25.

“More than a third of parents (38%) say their adult kids are more reliant on them today than they themselves were on their parents when they were young, and at least one in five of those believe that today’s 20-somethings have more of a sense of entitlement about money than previous generations,” Schwab says.

And, finally, there's this: “Nearly two-thirds (64%) believe that their kids are not worried about being a financial burden on them.” Ingrates!

Granted, there are some special circumstances. More people are graduating from college with a mountain of debt, thanks to escalating college costs. Clearly, the weak economy and tough job market have been especially hard on young people.

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But 25% of the parents surveyed felt their kids’ financial troubles were at least partially self-inflicted from overspending.

For parents deciding how much help to provide grown children, the first step is to really evaluate the costs. Allowing your kids to keep using their childhood bedrooms is one thing. It doesn’t cost you anything unless you’re thinking of taking in boarders. But allowing them to eat for free, drive the family car and supplying them with spending money... well, those things can add up.

Parents in their 40s and 50s should be saving aggressively for retirement, and extended child support can do a lot of damage. Suppose an assortment of parenting costs come to $500 a month for five years, starting when the parents were 45. If that money was invested instead at an 8% annual return it would grow to $36,707 in five years, according to the Savings, Taxes & Inflation Calculator. Over the next 20 years that sum could grow to $171,000. How many 70-year-olds wouldn’t like to have that?

The fact is, 20-somethings have lots of time to overcome financial setbacks; their parents do not.

The Schwab survey suggests that many young people don’t understand a fact of life that their parents and grandparents did: When you leave home, your standard of living will fall. Over time it’s likely to get better.

But in the early years, recent college grads need to drive used cars (not new ones), eat meals at home (not in restaurants) and rent (not buy) your residence.

And you might shop around for a roommate or two.

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