What to Do When Your Kids Return to the Nest

Since the collapse of the housing bubble and the subsequent blow to the economy, many kids that should be flying the coop are instead returning to roost.

A recent Wall Street Journal article report that, a rising number of kids in their 20s are returning home following college, due to college debt and decreased hiring by employers. Analysis of 2010 census data by the Pew Research center found that approximately 22% of 25-34 year-olds lived in “multigenerational households.” This is double the amount in 1980, which was 11%.

Last December, a survey by the Pew Research Center found that 3 in 10 parents of children over the age of 18 returned to live at home due to the unfriendly economy. The same survey found that nearly two-thirds of those aged 25-34 have family or friends that moved home because of the economy.

Fortunately, you don’t have to sit back and watch your kids flounder. There are several things you can do as a parents to help your kids through this difficult time, including:

  • Develop a budget
    • Kids in their 20s, in particular, do not have a lot of experience creating and handling a budget. Work with them to develop a budget, determining how much they make, how much they need, and how and where they spend their money. Break down large payments—such as a water bill that only comes once every three months—into smaller, more manageable monthly amounts.
    • You can help your child set up automatic bill payments and deductions, so that he or she isn’t tempted to spend their money elsewhere on things they don’t need.
    • There are a variety of online services that help with personal finance by linking to a bank account and providing budget templates, financial summaries, and monthly alerts. (Mint.com https://www.mint.com/, Bundle.com http://www.bundle.com/, and feedthepig.org http://www.feedthepig.org/ are a few.)
    • If you have a financial planner, ask him or her to meet with your child to offer some guidance. If you do not, try searching online for “pro bono financial planning” in your state to find someone who provides free counsel.
    • For those with kids who are buried in debt, you can connect your kids with debt counseling services. One such service is the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (http://nfcc.org/).
    • Discuss household contributions
      • Discussing your expectations for household contributions from your child—such as rent, groceries, other bills, and chores—will help prevent misunderstandings in the future. Household contributions from adult children “are becoming the norm,” according to The Wall Street Journal. Set up ground rules before your child moves in.
      • Teach your children to network
        • For many 20-somethings, their networking skills are not yet fully honed. Nor are their networks bound to be very far-reaching. Talk to them about successful networking—how to increase their network, which people to talk to, how to ask for references, etc.

The good news about your kids coming back to the nest is that it doesn’t have to negatively impact your family life. Another survey by the Pew Research center found that parents whose adult children moved back home because of the economy are “just as satisfied with their family life and housing situation” as those parents whose children haven’t.

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