Your youngest child just graduated from college and plans to start his job search from the familiar surroundings of his upstairs bedroom.
Your daughter shows up at your front door with suitcase in hand and announces plans to give up her apartment and move into your basement.
It’s boomerang season, meaning those empty-nester days you’ve been longing for are over, perhaps for weeks, months or even years.
This household reshuffling calls for some nimble navigating financially, too. Namely, figuring out what, if anything, will your child be contributing.
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We all know that living with parents has become increasingly common. But for the first time in more than 130 years, Americans ages 18-34 are more likely to live with their parents than in any other living situation, according to a new study by the Pew Research Center.
The trend is particularly notable among young adult men, partly because of a large decline in the number who are settling down romantically by age 35, the Pew research noted.
Financial reasons, of course, also continue to drive the kids back to more comfortable confines, especially for those still feeling the aftereffects of the Great Recession, Pew reported.
When an adult child moves back home, the standard financial advice for parents is to charge rent and parcel out some of the household bills so there’s a sense of shared responsibility. Otherwise, you may never get your millennial motivated to move out of the house.
But think carefully about those financial decisions before laying down ground rules. Here are some suggestions on how to work through potentially nagging money issues that could lead to angry confrontations if not figured out before the move-in date.
▪ What’s the goal? Is your child back home until landing a paycheck? Or is it in order to save money for a down payment on a house? If so, perhaps the best decision is to not attach any financial strings.
▪ Set a deadline. Discuss how long the living arrangement will last. Parents tell me a year or less seems to be the most common.
▪ Be clear about who’s paying for what. Will they pay rent and chip in on groceries and the cable bill? What about their favorite snacks and cold drinks? Go over cellphone plans, auto insurance, gas and car repair bills. While it may be more economical to keep your child on the family cell and insurance plans, discuss who will pay.
▪ Negotiate chores in lieu of cash. For example, one of my kids who moved home temporarily after college took on a backbreaking landscaping project that I never would have touched.
▪ Don’t put your child’s financial needs over yours. It’s natural to want to help your kids, but don’t do so by draining your retirement account.
Finally, recognize that your 20-something might rather be living anywhere but under your roof again, especially if his or her friends are footloose and fancy free. There’s bound to be stress.
So, my advice — and I’ve lived through this twice — is to make the most of this living arrangement. Who knows, maybe your tech-savvy child can coach you up on Twitter, streaming video and picking out the best apps on your cellphone. Not a bad trade-off.
Steve Rosen: 816-234-4879