Our son moved back in with us last year because he didn’t like his roommate. So, we offered to let him stay with us for a little while so he could find a new place. But it’s now been 8 months, and we’ve been paying for some of his expenses this whole time. We don’t want to sound like terrible parents, but what do you recommend we do?
A: You’re experiencing what tons of other parents are also going through these days (as many as 30%, according to Forbes) – an adult child ‘boomeranging’ back home. And while we know there’s a part of you that enjoys seeing him every day, it’s understandable that you’re getting frustrated. After all, when he left the house the first time, you probably thought it was for good! Even more importantly, as you’ve discovered, this arrangement can be a costly bargain: Forbes also reports that half of parents say they’re sacrificing some of their retirement savings to financially support adult children. From food, to utilities, to paying bills, the expenses can add up.
So, first, actually total all those expenses for which you’re footing the bill. We’re talking car payments, health insurance, student loans, streaming services, grocery trips, cell phone plans, etc. Anything. From here, figure out which can be eliminated, lowered, or consolidated.
Next, establish some boundaries by creating a budget. After you’ve listed the above expenses (and decided on the changes you want to make), go over these with your son. He might have no idea of what his return home is costing you. Explain your reasoning, and show him any redundancies, reductions, and which expenses, for the time being, can remain in place. And, since it sounds like your son has income, it’s time for him to start contributing to the situation. If nothing else, ask him to pay a fair amount in ‘rent’ each month.
We also want you to make sure he’s saving and investing during this time. Because a key step toward weaning an adult child off the parental dole is the practical and symbolic statement of insisting they begin preparing for the future. If he has a 401(k) with an employer match, he needs to be saving at least enough to get that. And he should really be saving in a Roth IRA as well.
Here is the SImply Money Point: is that, sometimes, the ‘hard’ conversations need to be had. This is your opportunity to not only set some financial limits, but to also set a great example for him that will (hopefully) last a lifetime.