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The Cost of Adult Kids Living at Home

As #Quarantinelife may have presented an abundance of new challenges this year, having your adult child or children living with you for an unperceived period may not have been one experience you expected to deal with. Now with college campuses closed and the job market unpredictable, recent trends continue to show that adult children are deciding to move back home.

But what are the true costs to having your family all under the same roof without exploiting your retirement savings? We’ll dive into this topic and provide tips for how to keep your hard earned household savings intact despite the occupancy changes.

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According to a survey conducted by home services entity, Porch, 37 percent of respondents said their children live with them currently—and the majority of this group hoped that would change soon. Nearly 65 percent expressed the wish for their children to leave home as soon as possible.

The 1,001 respondents reported that it costs an average of $459 more a month to house an adult child. That is not a small amount, considering that can be invested and compounded. For example, say you are 50 years old, and plan to retire in 15 years. If you use that $459 per month to invest, and expect an average return of 8% during those 15 years, you can add potentially another $156,000 to your retirement before taxes and inflation. Despite this possibility and considering the current external factors and conditions, it may make sense to help your child if your personal financial goals and retirement are still on track.

Tip: Keep Track of Your Retirement with Personal Capital’s Free Retirement Planner

Whether it is by choice due to more expensive cost-of-living in certain areas (you probably already know, but California, New York and other states can cost a hefty penny…), high student loan debt, or potentially due to the recent effects from COVID-19 such as job loss, furloughs, or health reasons, adult aged kids living with mom and dad is not an unusual occurrence nowadays.

As you continue to navigate through these challenging times and balance the costs associated with having your kids live at home, we’ll look at both sides of the argument on why you shouldn’t kick them out, or why it might make sense for you to let them go.

Reasons Why You Might Let Your Kid Stay

1. You Can Still Invest In Your Retirement

Housing your children is not a cheap endeavor. You have an extra mouth to feed to factor into your grocery bill, another body using utilities such as water, gas, electricity, and potentially the rise in entertainment costs such as cable, internet or dining out.

If your child is prioritizing paying down their potential student debts, building up their investment portfolios and emergency funds, or trying to get their adulthood on the right track by getting a job or their health in order, it may make sense to house your adult child as long as they are sticking to their goals and you are not ruining your financial future. Mentioned above, an average of $459 per month is not a small amount that you are potentially missing in your retirement contributions, but if you and your financial advisor determine that you are still in a position to achieve your long-term goals, why not assist your child to give them a little extra help?

2. Your Child is Giving Back

Despite the increasing numbers of younger generations (raise your hand if you’re a millennial!) moving back home to live with mom and dad, it could potentially be a win-win scenario if your kid is working, earning an income, striving to meet his/her financial goals, and pitching in around the home.

For example, let’s take Sammy – a 27-year old working in San Francisco and living with mom and dad in the expensive Bay Area ever since graduating from college five years ago. Even though time has passed and she does not pay a share of the monthly rent or mortgage, Sammy ultimately gives back by doing chores around the house, paying for utility bills such as cable/internet, and even covers the monthly premiums on her parent’s health and auto insurance policies.

Even though your child may not be paying rent for his or her stay with you, if guidelines and agreements are set and met in how they can contribute to your financial well-being, both sides can come out of the scenario as winners!

3. Teach Your Kids Lessons About Money

Aside from the basic credit and debit transactions that your child may have learned from introductory coursework or prior knowledge, there is much more to money that should be learned about. Investing smartly, tax efficient strategies, saving money in high-yield savings accounts or highly liquid, secure and flexible accounts, building credit, and emergency fund saving are just a few of the many money-related topics that can be discussed with your child.

Talking about money is never an easy discussion, and is often one that does not occur during the early years of a child’s upbringing. Consider this time together as a way for you and your child to catch up, get a grasp on educating each other about financial topics and long-term goals, and how each side can potentially help each other out.

Reasons Why You Might Kick Your Kid Out

1. It’s important to know the true cost of living

Learning the valuable lesson of financial independence is key when your adult children are on their own. So, how can you teach your kids the importance of saving and “living within their means” if they don’t have an accurate picture of what it takes to live month to month with basic necessities? If you are discounting rent or not even charging rent, you might be inadvertently taking away valuable financial lessons your adult children need when they move out.

According to a 2019 Young Money study, one in five young Millennials reported they would expect to rely on their parents financially into their 30s. But more than 90 percent of parents want their children to be financially independent by age 25, the survey reports. That’s a noticeable difference between expectations of kids and parents on what age is appropriate to hit financial independence.

2. Motivate your kids to reach their goals faster

Adult children between the ages of 22-30 are in their prime years to start making plans, setting out financial goals (like saving up to buy a house) and working towards the life they have dreamed of living as an adult. One could argue that by living at home post-college years makes it easier to start saving money such as a downpayment on a house, but that only goes so far. A recent study showed that less millennials were saving for a home these days due to already being burdened with paying off massive debt such as student loans (nearly 45% of millennials surveyed).

Not only do you need to be dedicated to spend less while at home, but you need to have the determination and means to reach that goal. Unfortunately 70% of the millennials surveyed by Insider and Morning Consult said they have a savings account with 58% having a balance under $5,000. With savings that low, prospective homeowners wouldn’t be able to afford a downpayment in most cities these days, let alone expenses in the event of an emergency.

On the other hand, some parents may experience their children procrastinating in their journey towards their ideal vision and life goals, and may wonder how long they should continue to help their children before pushing them out to be on their own. 14 years after becoming an adult, and 10 years after the average person graduates from college is more than enough time to find out what they want to do with their life. 10-14 years is also enough time to save enough money to live independently. Allowing adult children to stay beyond age 32 does them no favors.

3. Cohabitation may ruin your relationship

Now that your kids have previously flown the coop, your relationships and expectations have probably changed as well. Do you expect your adult children to pitch in more around the house? Would things change socially if you are seeing them on a regular basis versus during events/holidays/birthdays? Communication is key for dealing with the new dynamic at home and it’s important to set clear boundaries and expectations with your children if they have recently moved back in. Otherwise, feelings can be hurt and ruin your long-term relationship over disagreements/grudges that may present themselves in short-term situations. And you can’t put a price on that.

Things to Consider

Since you know the potential increase in costs associated with housing your adult children, here are some items for you to consider to ensure your retirement and financial goals will remain on track despite the increase in monthly expenses from helping your adult children:

  1. Sign up for Personal Capital’s FREE financial tools, where you can access Retirement Planner, a comprehensive retirement calculator that will help you plan for several scenarios.
  2. Consult with a fiduciary financial advisor to make sure your current plan is still on track to meet your financial goals.

The content contained in this blog post is intended for general informational purposes only and is not meant to constitute legal, tax, accounting or investment advice. You should consult a qualified legal or tax professional regarding your specific situation. Keep in mind that investing involves risk. The value of your investment will fluctuate over time and you may gain or lose money.

Any reference to the advisory services refers to Personal Capital Advisors Corporation, a subsidiary of Personal Capital. Personal Capital Advisors Corporation is an investment adviser registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Registration does not imply a certain level of skill or training nor does it imply endorsement by the SEC.

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