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    Sharing a roof, and money, with adult kids

    Kimberly Palmer

    AP – When Amanda Claypool was 28, she left a government contracting job in Washington, DC, and moved back to her parents’ house in upstate New York while she figured out her next step. Then the pandemic struck, and her temporary return lasted longer than she’d planned.

    Living with her parents for several months “helped give me more flexibility to pivot to a new career”, said Claypool, who is now a content creator in Asheville, North Carolina. Her parents covered her expenses related to food and housing. In return, she helped them de-clutter and sell about USD10,000 worth of vintage toys and collectibles online.

    Claypool’s decision to return home is increasingly common. The Pew Research Center found that one quarter of United States (US) adults aged 25 to 34 lived with parents or other relatives in 2021 and that the portion of young adults who do so has steadily climbed over the past 50 years.

    While moving back home can provide a financial safety net for young adults, it can also negatively affect their parents’ finances and stymie their own growth toward becoming financially independent. Here’s how to navigate inter-generational living so it benefits everyone involved.

    COMMUNICATE EXPECTATIONS

    Once you’ve decided to welcome an adult child home, then it’s time to set ground rules, said author of Your Turn: How to Be an Adult Julie Lythcott-Haims. Start with a candid conversation about what each party expects. “Get clear on, ‘You’re older now, things have changed. We are happy to support you, but let’s talk about what we expect in terms of day-to-day norms and behaviours,’” she said.

    In many cases, she said, it makes sense to treat young adults like Airbnb guests: They will use the kitchen and a bedroom but do their own laundry and some household chores and pay some rent. Barring mental health challenges or another crisis, a young adult should be expected to pitch in financially, too.

    PUT THE DETAILS IN WRITING

    After you agree to the financial contribution of the adult child, Rodriguez said, put those details in writing. “It helps to have something to reference or to go back and amend,” she said.

    Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Family studies at Concordia University, St Paul David Bredehoft suggested solidifying the ground rules into a formal contract. The document should spell out details such as who is doing laundry and paying for utilities and whether there are quiet hours or guests allowed. “Otherwise, it’s easy to slide into old roles,” he said.

    TRACK EXPENSES

    Accredited financial counsellor and founder of Life’s Jam, a coaching business based in Miami Rachael Bronstein said she encourages parents to track their expenses when they’re sharing a home. Sometimes, she said, they don’t realise how much of their money is going toward the extra food, utilities and subscriptions. “They probably need to go back to their adult children and say, ‘Hey, can we figure this out? I’m paying for a lot of stuff’,” she said.

    If parents don’t prioritise their own savings and retirement, then they might need to turn to their adult children for financial help in the coming years.

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