Cat over at Frugal Rules recently wrote about how much financial help a parent should give their adult child. That is an excellent question. I left a long comment over there but the more I thought about it the more I had to say.
What are my plans to help out my adult children? First and foremost I want them to become responsible, productive adults. Whatever help I give or withhold will be in order to meet that goal.
I foresee allowing them to live in my house, for free, until they are out of school. Then I guess I would give them a set amount of time (say, 6 months) to get on their feet and either start paying rent or move out. Of course, that’s easier said than done. I can see a lot of circumstances that would cause that plan to change.
Speaking of college, a big question for parents is how much help to provide in paying for college. Unless things change dramatically between now and the college years I don’t see us having a lot of money saved for college. My kids are 12 and 8 so we don’t have a ton of time left here. I’ve already told my kids they are welcome to live here while they go to college. I know I would also help with costs as much as possible from our monthly budget.
I don’t feel a great need to pay for my kid’s college educations 100%. I think a place to live and food on the table is already a great help. I also think they should pay for some of it themselves. I don’t feel that getting a free ride to college is necessarily a good thing. (Maybe I just think that because I haven’t saved anything! haha)
Once they are out of school I do expect them to be moving towards being financially independent. Like I said above, I would hope for them to move out within about 6 months or so. However, if they wanted to stay for a responsible reason, like saving up for a down payment on a house, or starting a business I could see allowing them to stay. But going back to my main point, I want them to be responsible, productive adults. So they could stay only if they were proving themselves to be responsible and productive.
They could not live at home if they wanted to avoid life. Either by not getting a job or not wanting to take on adult responsibilities. I don’t know really know what I would do if one of my kids just plainly refused to join the real world. It’s easy to sit here and say that I would kick them out… but when the time comes, that’s pretty tough to do.
I think the best plan now is to prepare them for what to expect when they become an adult. Let them know that this is not a free place to live for adults. Grownups have to support themselves. Maybe if I make that very clear now, I will have less trouble later.