Would-Empty Nesters Grapple with Adult Child at Home: Tips for Parents with Adult Children at Home

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - BusinessAs parents of college-age children across the country settle into the reality of their empty nests, many other Americans are waiting for the day when their kids will fly the coop. According to an online poll commissioned by the National Endowment for Financial Education® (NEFE®) and conducted by Harris Interactive in May 2011, 40 percent of U.S. adults ages 18 to 39 who are not students, live at home with their parents, or have in the recent past. Although this provides a welcome reprieve for adult children facing heightened financial pressures, it can be detrimental to their parents’ personal and financial lives. The NEFE poll found that among parents with adult children living at home:

  • 30 percent have given up privacy
  • 26 percent have taken on debt
  • 13 percent have delayed plans for a major life event, such as getting married, taking a vacation or buying a home
  • 7 percent have delayed retirement

Establish a Plan (and Stick to It)
1. Understand where your child is coming from. Ask your child why he or she thinks living at home will help him or her toward specific financial goals. Discuss how long he or she plans to live with you, and whether he or she can contribute financially.
2. Assess your current financial situation. If moving your adult child back home means cutting into retirement savings or delaying other financial goals, reconsider how you might help. Offer to watch grandchildren or pets while your child interviews for jobs or works extra shifts. Introduce your son or daughter to professional connections that could lead to job prospects.
3. Establish ground rules for living under the same roof. Before your child moves in, decide on a move-out date and set guidelines for maintaining privacy and mutual respect. You might consider drawing up a contract, which will show your child you’re serious.
4. Require your child to contribute, financially or otherwise. Consider charging a small amount of rent or at least having your child help around the house. The Schlueters don’t charge Brett for rent or food, but they expect him to fix things around the house, which has saved them money during the past couple years.
5. Help your child toward financial independence. Discuss steps your child will take toward getting out on his or her own. Make them specific, and attach deadlines. For example, Brett applies for three to five career-related positions a week, but if he isn’t hired by January 2012, he plans to enroll in graduate school.
6. Regularly discuss your child’s progress. Celebrate your child’s accomplishments but hold him or her to his or her end of the deal, whether that includes job-seeking goals, responsibilities around the house or a move-out date.
7. Once your child has left the house, remember the big picture. Evaluate what you and your son or daughter have learned from the experience, and review your child’s plans for maintaining his or her financial independence. For more tips, visit www.smartaboutmoney.org.

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