Finances & Grown Kids At Home

This is not the economy our parents came of age in. Between the recession and a faltering job market, more and more young adults are not moving out on their own as they did a generation or two ago. They’re coming back to their parents’ homes instead.

According to the United States Census Bureau, 10 percent of women and 19 percent of men between the ages 25 and 34 returned to the family nest in 2011. If this happens to you and you don’t want your kids to derail your retirement plans, you’ll have to come to a financial understanding with them.

Step 1
Assign a portion of your monthly mortgage or rent payment to your child as “rent.” The percentage doesn’t have to be staggering — it can be a token amount, particularly if your child is underemployed and struggling financially.

Charging rent has two advantages. It whittles away at what you must pay yourself, and — depending on why your child has moved back home — it teaches him or her that life is not a free ride, even when living with mom and dad. Asking for even $200 frees up some of your money for other things. You can pay down credit cards or tuck it aside as savings for a rainy day.

Step 2
Save additional money by delegating certain chores to your child. This option can be particularly helpful if he or she is not just underemployed, but also if he or she can’t find a job at all. If you pay a lawn service $250 a month to mow and rake, give this job to your child in lieu of rent. You’ve just pocketed $250 a month.

Step 3
Take stock of your other household expenses and decide what your child can reasonably contribute to. You might feel a little mercenary asking to contribute something toward the electric bill, and if he or she’s in financial distress, this might be overdoing it.

Groceries are another matter: Even if your kid isn’t kitchen-savvy, footing the bill to call out for pizza once in a while could help. Although you may not save much money by delegating one meal a week, you can at least exercise some control over the money that’s going out of your household.

Step 4
Determine how your kid will pay for his own personal expenses, such as gas money, pocket money, cellphone bill and car payment. Teach your child how to reduce, postpone or forgo recreational purchases to prioritize his or her budget. If your child isn’t working, responsibility for these expenses might fall to you, so it becomes even more important that you save some money in other areas. If he or she is working but not earning much, decide whether you’ll help with these expenses and, if so, to what extent.

If your child borrowing from you constantly — $50 here and $30 there — this can have quite an impact your budget when it starts adding up. You could find yourself falling short with necessary expenses. Make it known that you expect reimbursement someday when he or she is back on their feet financially. Even if you don’t actually intend to collect, you can forgive the debt later. You can also set a limit as to how much you’re willing to lend each week or month so these added expenditures don’t bust your budget.

There are ways to make sure that children who return to the family nest do not rob you of your nest egg.  Have your kid help with rent, budget for family-related expenses and contribute to their own personal purchases to ensure you’re still funding your retirement for the future.

About the Author 

Beverly Bird has been writing professionally since 1983. Bird also has extensive experience as a paralegal, primarily in the areas of divorce and family law, bankruptcy and estate law. She covers many legal topics in her articles.