Everyday Cheapskate: Handle life in a crowded nest
It used to be that kids reaching adulthood could not wait to leave home and be on their own. And their parents longed for an empty nest and quieter lives.
But young people are spoiling these plans. As of 2016, one study showed 36 percent of graduating college seniors planned to move back home with their parents after graduation.
Many American homes have become very crowded nests. While parents are asking themselves what went wrong, the boomerang kids seem to be adjusting quite nicely. And why not? They get a boarding house without rent, a laundromat with no slots for coins and a mini-storage facility, otherwise known as your garage.
No one’s doubting current economic conditions are making it nearly impossible for kids to make it out of the nest for good on the first try. That’s fine. Just remember you want to make this a short-term layover. Eventually, you want leaving to be easier than staying. And I’m talking about them, not you.
Above all, take care of yourself. That means you’re first in the shower. It means securing your own retirement before you take on their student debt. It means paying off your mortgage before helping with theirs.
Rent. Insist that adult children pay rent or make some other form of financial contribution. At the very least, they are buying groceries, paying utilities or paying a third of the rent. This is, after all, the real world.
Harmony. Boomerangs have to respect the parents and their rules. Period. Yes, they are adults, but at this time in your house they are subordinates.
Temporary. This should be a one-time event with a start and an end date that’s not subject to renewal.
Laundry. Resist all temptation to do the boomerang’s laundry, no matter what.
Bills. Boomerangs undoubtedly will arrive with bills. Do not pay them. Do not even think about it. Boomerangs must take full responsibility for all bills and debts, even if that requires a second job that pays minimum wage.
Transportation. Living privileges should not extend to your car. You should not drive said boomerang around the way you did many years ago. Boomerangs are on their own to get around.
Parking. Make the parking arrangements very clear. Boomerangs should park on the street, not occupy the primo garage or driveway space, if that requires the parents to park on the street.
Food. Do not leave this matter undiscussed. While the Crowded Nest Diet (wherein no matter how much you spend on food, it disappears faster than the national surplus) has been known to result in weight loss for the host parents, it does nothing to encourage boomerangs to move along to a better pasture.
Chores. Boomerangs need to be involved in the house. When determining who does what and when, err on the side of being too detailed and specific.
Contract. Transfer your house rules to a simple contract that everyone signs. Remember, this is the same kid who was the master at finding loopholes not so many years ago.