They’re called the “Boomerang Generation” because they are kids moving back home after college in record numbers. The numbers are actually somewhat astounding – 85% of the college class of 2011 moved back home. Think you’re the only one supporting your adult child? Think again! A survey done last year showed that nearly 60% of parents provide financial support to their adult children who are no longer in school. With the economy as tough as it is, many college graduates are ending up back home until they find a job, or if they have a job, until they can pay off some of the student debt they owe.
Unfortunately, today’s young adults graduated into one of the worst economies since the depression and carry an almost overwhelming college debt burden. Unemployment rates for the 20- to 24-year olds are well above the national average at approx. 14%, and the average four-year college student borrowed $24,000 in 2009–double the $12,000 they borrowed in 1993.
The move back home can be difficult for both parents and their young adult children. With that in mind, here are 5 tips to ease the transition:
Create goals. Help your son or daughter create a plan to get on their own two feet. This should include a timeline for moving out, a budget, and a savings plan. Some parents even put stipulations into the plan as far as how long they will help their children financially. After that point, any money spent on their behalf is considered a loan, and will need to be paid back. Though this sounds harsh, parents have found that it helps motivate Junior to take the steps required to get back on their feet, and to do it on a timely basis!
Outline responsibilities. Your adult children were responsible for themselves while they were off at college, and there is no reason why they can’t continue to be responsible for themselves now that they are living back home. It’s fine for them to have their own responsibilities, whether that means washing dishes, cleaning up after themselves, doing their own laundry, etc. Again, it’s setting those expectations up front that are important so that nobody gets frustrated when things aren’t getting done.
Working is expected. Though your son or daughter may not be able to land their dream job in their career field right out of college, they should look for some sort of job in the interim to pay for their own expenses, such as gas, a car payment, entertainment, etc. Today’s reality is that many adults cannot find work in their chosen field, but still need to find work of some kind to pay the bills. Financial stability is key for adult children to be able to move back out on their own, so it’s important to work towards that right away.
Contribute financially. A major issue that often comes up is whether parents should charge their adult children rent or not. Most experts will encourage parents to charge at least a token amount of rent, or agree on a certain amount that their son/daughter will contribute towards the household expenses. It’s good for your adult child to get in the habit of paying a monthly amount, and it helps their self-esteem to not feel they are contributing and not just “mooching”. Even if you really don’t need your child’s money, consider charging them a reasonable amount based on their current income, and then place it in a savings account, to be given back one they move out, to offset initial living expenses.
Rules are okay. One of the toughest issues for both parents and children are rules. Children (who are now adults) living under their parent’s roof think they shouldn’t be subjected to rules. However, parents will always be parents and there are situations that can become uncomfortable really quickly. So, it’s best to talk about the issues up front and establish rules. Curfews and boyfriend/girlfriend rules (such as no boyfriends sleeping over) are rules that are acceptable and expected, but they do bear discussion as the boundaries will differ due to your child’s older age. For example, the curfew may be 2am, instead of 12am. Or, perhaps if they will be later than the agreed upon curfew, they will call or text so the parents do not worry.
These steps will help you reclaim your empty nest and more importantly, will help your children become responsible adults during a very difficult economic time.