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Considerations when supporting adult children

The days of the “empty nesters,” when parents make life changes once their children have moved out, may now be eluding many middle-aged parents. Adult children who move back home to live with their parents, also known as “the boomerang generation,” are now more common than you may think.

It is estimated that 85 percent of this year’s college graduates are planning to head back to live with mom and dad. And a study in 2010 by researchers at Columbia University using the U.S. Current Population Survey found that 52.8 percent of 18 to 24-year-olds were living at home, up from 47.3 percent in 1970. The study also showed that one-in-seven young adults is emerging from their teenage years with no pathway to financial and economic independence.

For parents it can be trying. While it’s important to respect the independence of full-grown children, it’s not that easy when they are exercising that independence under your roof. What’s more, it can also be a drain financially. Food, heating, gas, electricity, and many other daily expenses can be a lot higher when they include another mouth or two.

If you find yourself with a full nest, here are a few tips to help make ends meet:

n Make a budget. Track what you spend and compare it with a monthly plan to help you to identify where the money is going, and where you can cut back. Show what costs are truly shared and what ones relate to specific family members.

n Share the common costs. Most live-at-home adult children are there for a reason; often due to lack of a job or inability to afford a place of their own. But that does not mean they should not shoulder a portion of household expenses just as soon as they can.

Work out a realistic monthly rent schedule or cost-sharing arrangement and stick with it. Make sure this includes additional costs such as utilities, groceries and other household items.

n Separate the individual costs. Is your live-at-home son or daughter a finicky eater? Do they demand certain foods or sundries that you would not buy otherwise? Then let them pay for these items themselves. They’ll learn to appreciate what their tastes are really costing, and this helps avoid resentment on your part.

n Share the chores. Assigning chores and responsibilities may seem obvious, but often it’s overlooked leaving mom and dad to do all the work. Outline the daily and weekly chores and make it clear to all who is responsible for what task.

n Don’t make it too comfortable. If your goal is to eventually nudge them back out of the nest, provide some incentive. That means not treating them as permanent guests, but as temporary live-at-home adult children, with obligations and responsibilities of their own. Set boundaries right away regarding visitors, the noise level in the home and the weekly schedule. In the end, they will appreciate it as much as you.

Enjoy the blessings of family this holiday season. Just make sure they stay that way!

Karin Grablin, a certified financial planner is with SRQ Wealth Management, Two N. Tamiami Trail, No. 410 in Sarasota and can be reached at 941-556-9004 or