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When Adult Children Return Home

Clarifying Financial Considerations

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Among the very most important challenges of adult children returning home is to make sure all parties are clear about finances. For example:

  • Rent. Many fathers who have been there recommend that adult children be charged rent of some sort for the time they are living at home. It is a way to help the children feel somewhat responsible and to contribute to the added expenses of the parent. Some parents set the rent, at least at the outset, as a percentage of take-home pay--say 30%. Then, as income rises, the children have an added incentive to move back out on their own. In any case, starting low and letting rent grow seems to be a common strategy.

  • Food. Children should contribute toward the food budget. They should also take a fair share in meal preparation and clean up.

  • Car and Insurance. If the adult children have a vehicle, parents should make sure there are clear expectations about parking and car expenses. When parents are being asked to cover the costs, the parents should have some direct involvement in decisions. It may be that a more expensive car needs to be sold in favor of a less expensive one or a transit pass. If the children plan on using a vehicle owned by mom and dad, they should contribute toward fuel and insurance costs.

  • Take Away the Credit Cards. When adult children are living at home, parents have a right to expect that they live within their means. Parents who have made these kinds of arrangements work recommend that credit cards be cut up or placed in custody of parents. One family I know took their boomerang kids' credit cards and froze them in a container of water. Their thinking was that if a purchase was important enough to put it on a credit card, it could wait while the block of ice melted.

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