3/21/2012 1:16 PM ET|
Money rules for when kids move back
When children return to the nest -- sometimes bringing their own children with them -- clear expectations can improve the experience and prevent misunderstandings.
When Sue Jenkins' 35-year-old son moved back home, the Auburn, N.H., family sat down and established ground rules.
"We talked about how we lived our life, our routines and what we expected of him," Jenkins says.
The Jenkinses' situation, in which a grown child moves back home temporarily after a job loss, creates family and financial issues -- and it's becoming increasingly common. More adults from 25 to 34 years old live with their parents now than in 2005, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. For young men, the percentage has grown from 14% in 2005 to 19% in 2011. For women, the figure has risen from 8% to 10% in the same period.
If you're the parent of a grown kid who is moving back home, you may feel overwhelmed by the new living arrangement. Here, experts share ways to set financial parameters for when your adult child returns to the nest.
Begin a dialogue
Family meetings can help avoid misunderstandings, reduce tension and resentment, and set ground rules for behavior in the home, says Betty Frain, co-author of "Becoming a Wise Parent for Your Grown Child: How to Give Love and Support Without Meddling."
Sit down with your adult child and set clear boundaries and expectations for the new living arrangement, Frain says. Think about financial factors such as paying rent, dividing utility bills and shopping for groceries. Also, consider who will do the cooking, and what, if any, hours will be set aside for quiet time.
Talk about guidelines for having friends over, alcohol use, playing music and how long the invitation to stay at home will remain open.
In the Jenkinses' case, the family set up a rule to call ahead if either party was going to come home late or not come home at all.
Ask your child for rent
Maintaining an additional adult in your household costs an average of $300 per month, says Robert Michon, the manager of Foreclosure Resolution Center in St. Charles, Mich.
If your child is able, he or she should contribute to the rent or mortgage on your home, says Linnda Durré, a psychotherapist in Winter Park, Fla. Consider tying payment to your child's income, such as making it 15% of his or her monthly take-home pay.
If your child does not have a job or is unable financially to pay rent, set up a barter system such as exchanging work for room and board. These services might include shoveling snow, mowing the lawn, painting a room or cooking a meal once a week. The exact duties matter less than the responsibility factor involved, Durré says.
Come to an agreement
Regardless of whether your adult child will be contributing financially through payments or services, or a combination of both, consider putting it in writing, Durré says. Have your child read through the contract, and make sure both of you agree on the provisions. Then sign and post a copy in a visible place such as the kitchen or the child's room.
Michon says if you agree to allow your child to stay until he finds a job and gets back on his feet, figure out what that's going to take. Then set up steps to make that happen, and write them down. It can be much harder to make changes once your child has been under your roof for several months.
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Make it a learning experience
If your child doesn't have a job, consider outlining your expectations for job hunting, says Ruth Nemzoff, the author of "Don't Bite Your Tongue: How to Foster Rewarding Relationships with Your Adult Children." This might include talking to one person each day about an internship, scheduling time for an Internet job search or volunteering at a workplace to gain experience.
For young adults struggling with credit card or student loan debt, a frank discussion about managing debt may be the best approach. Going to a financial planner for professional help is another option.
If your child moves home with kids in tow, keep in mind you may be caring for your grandchildren more than you planned, says Michon. Depending on your child's income level, government assistance for child care may be available.
Review the arrangement periodically
Consider meeting once a month to go over your child's situation. Discuss what is going well and what is not, Nemzoff says.
You might be eager for your child to leave, but in the meantime, focus on the perks of the living arrangement, Nemzoff says. "Think of it as a chance to get to know each other as adults and to redefine your relationship for the future," she says.
In Jenkins' case, her son moved out after a short time. "As it worked out, he just needed a roof over his head for a while," she says.
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Bigdaddy, you're right. Looks like some don't agree. I grant you that for some of those "kids" it would be difficult to accept. However, if they are grown up, they should be able to handle that mentally and therefore physically.
I have a 31-yr-old daughter AND son-in-law STILL living here. They are both teachers, and got their credentials JUST before the layoffs. So they haven't really been able to get steady work. I have them covered on auto, and they pay that. That's about all. They do take care of their own food. They are trying to save enough to get OUT, buying their own house. Soon, I hope. I wonder.......
Husband said "I don't want to loose my son'. He lost me, instead, because of the lies and deceit.
I started over, alone. Three years later, I'm out of debt, own everything I need, and will soon buy the car that was always promised to me.
Those two are still whining about being broke and poor. The kid is still unemployed (keeps getting fired for stupid reasons), has never finished his college program, but DID get married! (good thing his wife has a good job.) Daddy-o got fired, is living off disability, and engaged to a pot-head.
I'm happy for all of them!
I agree with some of this and other points I don't. Every case is different, each parent just has to know their child. I am 25 and recently moved back home because I went back to graduate school and could not work full time any longer. I of course hoped my parents would see that I am not just bumming but trying to do something better with my life. I have a car note, insurance and other bills I accumulated that I still pay for on my own working part time. I don't eat what my parents eat so I buy my own food. I am respectful of their place, don't have people over or be loud, the only common area we really all use is the kitchen so I keep that clean as much as possible. We did have a one time discussion about their expectations which I respect, I am not going to be comfortable there the way I am in my own place but I knew I was going to make that sacrifice a year before I did it. My mom kept telling me I would be happier living elsewhere like with a roomate and she's right but my focus right now is going to school, not partying or having friends over. I still go out and stay out late but I let them know that I'm going. I don't spend the night away from the home unless I'm out of town. I have a younger brother, who parties much more than I do and I just don't think thats a concern for my parents, their concer in more so not having to be responsible for us financially and for our decisions.
BUT a couple of years ago, I lost my job and I talked to my parents about moving back home until I got back on my feet and my dad tried to do a contract with me. He doesnt know me very well adn he thought that I was going to cause trouble, being out, drinking ect. In the contract it was like 20 different items, and it was all just negativity, already going through a hard time that just made things ten times worse. I think parents should understand that we are going through a rough time, especially if I have been taking care of myself up until now and have not been depending on them up to that point. What parents say to their children, even adult childred can really affect them. To set a contract is a slap in the face. But every thing is situational, if you know your child is unruly and you forsee problems then fine, do what you need to do, but for me I felt it was uneccessary. I didn't want them in my financial business, or giving me suggestions about budgeting ect, I just lost my job, plain and simple. I don't want them revising the contract monthly, and feeling like a stranger in my own parents home. Just tell me your expectations and let me work towards getting back on my feet, if we have that type of relationship, I will come to you on my own and get advice. Good article though.
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