Tips for Parents of Boomerang Kids

Your adult child has finished school and is now starting a new life — at home. According to a Pew Research Center survey, over half of parents in the U.S. with adult children say they helped their adult kids financially in the previous year. Some of that help came in the form of letting their kids move back home. If you’ll be welcoming a “boomerang” child, here are some tips to know.

1. Write down expectations.  If you and your child agree on ground rules before moving-back-in day, it can help prevent misunderstandings down the road. You could even create a written contract for all parties to sign. The stated expectations could spell out the purpose for the stay, such as helping your child keep expenses low while looking for a job, and how long your kid can live at home before it’s time to move out again.

You’ll probably also want to include non-financial expectations, such as having everyone share chores, just as housemates would normally do. And if it bugs you to have your child bringing guests at odd hours, you can make that known upfront.

2. Keep watch over your finances. Allowing another adult to live in your home will likely increase your expenses for such things as utilities and food. As your child prepares to return, it’s a good time to review your budget. You’ll still want to cover your day-to-day living expenses while also staying on track to meet your retirement goals.

3. Charge rent. One way to ease the expense of opening up your home is to have your boomerang kids pay rent, a portion of utilities and part of the grocery bill. It could help you avoid overspending — and help your kids be prepared to expect these expenses when they move out on their own. If you can afford it, consider setting aside some of your kids’ rent payment to return to them when they’re ready to move, or to help them pay off debt.

4. Be wary of lending. If you loaned a child money that he or she can’t repay, it could strain your relationship. Also think very carefully before agreeing to cosign a loan. While it can help your son or daughter establish credit, cosigning could put you on the hook for a loan your child isn’t ready to take on.

5. Prepare for special situations. There may be cases where you know your child isn’t likely to be able to live independently — because of a disability, for example. You can help such a child  prepare to live on his or her own by setting up a special needs trust. A conversation with a financial advisor who specializes in these issues can help get you started.

When children come home after college, it can be a great opportunity. By setting expectations and helping them save money, you can give your boomerang child a smart start on a successful financial life.

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