How To Survive Living At Home As An Adult


As the country heads into a recession, more and more children may be returning home with their parents after college graduation this spring.  Boomerangers or twixters, as they are sometimes called, are the twenty-somethings who choose to move back in with mom and dad so that they save money and plan for the future.  

Heading back to the empty nest can be a pleasant time for children and parents alike but the truth of the matter is that between adolescence and adulthood, the relationship between children and their parents’ changes dramatically. It is important for both parents and child to have a clear understanding of what is expected of them before they share a home, again.  

Bill Duesse, president and co-founder of The Coach Connection, a life coaching company in Fort Meyers, Fla., says that the key to a success is for parents and children to first sit down independently to figure out what they would like to get out of the experience.  Then everyone can decide together a set of workable ground rules.  

Experts agree that the ultimate conversation should cover topics such as rent, groceries, curfew, guests and even television schedules.  “Absolutely parents should charge room and board, maybe less than what it would cost them on their own, but rent none the less," says Jay Berger, a certified financial planner in Traverse City, Mich. "They should also have responsibilities like grocery shopping.”

Having a rules and a rental fee agreement on somewhat formal terms helps the child to experience what the real world will be like but still in a “safe” environment.  According to Stuart Ritter, a lecturer at The Center for Leadership Education at Johns Hopkins University, both the parents and the child should consider the time a learning experience: Having a landlord tenant type relationship will bring more realism to that situation.

How best should a parent decide what rent to charge? Berger suggests doing research on what an apartment in the area would cost. The same goes for food.  Some parents however, may not want to charge their children. Berger says they can still collect rent in a way that will ultimately benefit their child.  “When my sister graduated from nursing school, she moved back home with my parents and they charged her rent but without her knowing, they kept the money aside," he says.  "When she got married, they gave her that money to go towards her wedding.” 

Families work in different ways and not one set of rules will work for all people. And, whether a child has moved back home because they are trying to save money for an upcoming life change or simply because they aren’t sure what they would like to do yet, it is important to have a plan and set goals.  “Parents [should] think like economists.  If the child has a defined goal and is making marked improvement towards reaching that goal, then it seems counterintuitive to place too much of a financial burden on them,” says Tim Maurer, director of financial planning at The Financial Consulate in Baltimore, Md.  “But, if the child has no such goal, then I think it is actually quite important for the parents to require them to contribute financially and even periodically increase their burden to help better prepare them for the reality ahead.”


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