Family or friends are usually the ones who come through when a financial crisis comes up for a household.

According to a to a Pew Charitable Trusts study, a quarter of American households provided assistance to family and friends who were in need during the past year. Some, mostly wealthier families also offer "mobility enhancing funds," which fund adult children money for their higher education and homeownership pursuits.

"Pew's analysis of the 2013 Panel Study of Income Dynamics says, 10 percent of adult children received financial help from their parents for home purchasing, and 31 percent received funds for higher education. Of course the wealthiest families are most likely to provide these funds."

"The safety net provided to households by friends and relatives," says Pew, "is a hidden dimension of the financial system and one that may reinforce existing advantages and disadvantages in family finances."

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