American parents of adult children spend $500 billion annually on their adult children between 18 to 34 years old, or twice the amount they contribute to their retirement accounts, the study found.

The study breaks parenting into three phases -- infant/toddler; elementary/high schooler; and adult. And although you might imagine that the most costly phase is when the kids are little and require daycare, diapers and a host of pee-wee-sized products, parents say that's not true. Just 11% of parents said this was when they spent the most on their offspring.

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