3 Financial Tips for Parents of Boomerang Kids

Although most parents don’t expect their children to return to the nest after obtaining a college degree, living at home is becoming an increasingly popular option. In fact, a Pew Research Center study showed that 2014 was the first time in the modern era that people ages 18 to 34 were more likely to live at home than in any other living situation.

Returning to the nest can be a great option for kids who may be looking to save money or take a bit of extra time charting a career path, but the presence of so-called “boomerang kids” at home can create financial stress for mom and dad. Parents must decide how much financial support to provide, all while ensuring the unexpected expense does not compromise their long-term goals, such as saving for retirement.

Here are three tips for parents who may have a grown adult child living with them:

1. Set clear expectations

Before your child even moves back home, it is important to have an open and honest conversation about the situation. Try to gather a sense of why they are choosing to return home, while setting forth clear boundaries, expectations and rules.

Is your child expected to pay rent or bills, or do chores? Who is responsible for the car? What is their employment situation? How long do they intend to live at home? Aligning on these topics early in the process is crucial to fostering a more productive living space. Work together to devise a thorough plan by establishing short-, medium- and long-term benchmarks.

These types of conversations can help you stay organized and set priorities, while ensuring your boomerang child does not get used to a lifestyle with minimal financial responsibility.

2. Avoid managing their finances

Boomerang parents often grapple with how active a role to play in their child’s finances. Helping too much can enable poor fiscal habits, while not helping enough can make it difficult for the child to develop independence. Although each scenario is different, try to avoid taking complete control of your boomerang child’s finances.

In addition to assuming extra financial burden by becoming responsible for items such as loans and car payments, the period immediately following college is a crucial time for your child to begin laying the groundwork for a strong financial future. Experiences such as paying off bills, building a line of credit, and starting an investment portfolio are invaluable at a young age.

Remember, there are many ways to provide guidance without stunting your child’s financial growth and maturity.

3. Focus on yourself

Parents with a boomerang child living at home must find a way to manage the unexpected expense without sacrificing their long-term financial goals. Significant and unplanned expenses may create financial difficulty, especially for those nearing retirement.

Analyze your financial plan and determine the best way to incur the cost and still assist a boomerang child without jeopardizing your financial future and safety net. You may need to re-adjust your spending budget or short-term priorities, but try to avoid withdrawing money from other important areas, such as your retirement fund, selling assets or deviating from your long-term investment strategy, to cover the expense.

While having a grown adult child return home can present certain financial challenges, a bit of planning can help you navigate the obstacles while also creating a healthier and more constructive situation for all parties.

 

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Barbara Finder

Barbara Finder is a Senior Vice President and Financial Advisor with the Wealth Management Division of Morgan Stanley in Chicago.