When Boomer Kids Move Back Home

Boomerang kids can hurt Baby Boomer retirement plans.

Your retirement plans are set and you are easing into them. For most Baby Boomers, this means implementing a budget and looking forward to travel, golf and other enjoyable activities. Then, junior or princess shows up on your doorstep needing a place to crash “just for a couple of weeks.”

Except for the wealthy few, most young people have a hard time making ends meet these days. Even a college degree cannot save many from the working at the Golden Arches. Those who lack specific degrees with high market value (e.g., engineering) face a rough road. Even if they do find work, today’s salaries are often not enough to live independently. It’s a much tougher world out there than the one we enjoyed at their age. And let’s face it, we are not going to turn our children away when they knock on the door with suitcase in hand.

However, parents who are adverse to practicing “tough love” at this point face a rough road, including watching their retirement savings dwindle and losing the peace on mind that they had begun enjoying. Without quickly laying down rules, these Boomers are in danger of losing their sanity.

Mutually Set Rules

A review of several articles on this subject makes it clear that handling “boomerang” kids goes much smoother when the rules are agreed upon at the beginning:

  • House rules: No laying around, no laundry services, no hot meals every night, no bad habits (e.g., smoking, dope or drinking), TV off time, use of car and phone, etc.
  • Rent: Agreeing on a monthly rental fee is one way to remind your kid(s) that this situation is temporary. If you wish, this money can be put aside to be given to them when they move out.
  • Insurance: Find out what insurance (health, car, etc.) they have in case of an emergency.
  • Household Expenses: Consider asking your child to contribute to household expenses if their stay is likely to be long.
  • Set a Deadline: Don’t leave their stay open-ended or they may never leave.
  • Loans: Be careful about giving your kids money, as a loan or otherwise, especially if they put a dent in your retirement plans.

Fast Reads

The Bottom Line for Baby Boomers

As Boomers, we love our kids. We worked hard to raise our families and help our children step into independence. And it is difficult to deny them when they need assistance.

But remember, you are not doing anyone a favor by accepting kids back into the household on an open-ended basis. Without rules, both you and your offspring will become frustrated. Your kids are adults now and it’s OK to treat them as so without guilt. Discuss rules and expectations upfront. Let them know that you love them no matter whether their stay works out. Help if you can, but put the onus on them to solve their problems. Do not forfeit your retirement to address a (hopefully) temporary situation. It’s a tough, often awkward experience, but everyone can get through a boomerang situation with clear rules, mutual respect, kindness and love.

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