It’s official – apparently you can to home again.
A recent TD Ameritrade survey found that 50% of “young millennials” plan to move back home with their parents after college. The survey polled 1,027 members of Generation Z (which the survey defines as ages 15-21), 1,026 millennials (which the survey defines as ages 22-28) and 1,001 parents.
This issue is actually very personal for me. With my oldest child Olivia having recently graduated college and two others at home closely following in her footsteps, I made a strategic decision. I needed to kick Olivia out of the house and get her living on her own as soon as possible. You know I love my kids more than life itself. You know I only want the best for them. But I remember the struggles I experienced when I started living on my own with less than $100 in my bank account. I lived on a waterbed and ate a steady diet of pasta and potatoes. And you know what? That experience taught me values and proves why this decision is necessary now.
Do you think I am a bad parent? Does this make me a monster? Or am I taking the right steps that more parents should take? That means making your children responsible by facing the real world. It’s key to make your kids understand their own finances no matter what the struggles are for survival- real survival. The world of four-star hotels, European getaways, and movie theater basements isn’t the real world. It’s the real world of what many of you have ‘earned’ today.
First things first. How many of you believe that if you hand anyone money long enough that they will eventually cry “uncle” and stop asking for more? The longer you let your child live at home, the harder it will be to get them out on their own, and the higher the chance of them asking for more handouts down the road.
This is why every parent needs to take the proper steps to get your child out of the house and on their own.
When my daughter graduated from college, my wife and I gave her specific deadlines to get a full-time job and definitive timelines to find an apartment. It didn’t always make her happy and it definitely caused her stress. Ultimately, it is up to your child whether they decide to find a roommate and whether they start their career with their dream job or just a job that will pay the bills. The point is that parents have to decide that the “safety net” of living at home is coming to an end, even if you choose to subsidize their housing for a small period of time.
Kicking your kid out of the house doesn’t necessarily mean that you won’t offer some initial help. It does mean that they will be responsible for personally paying all of their housing bills. I offered some transitional help, but I am so proud of my daughter because she is now already number one at what she is doing at work. Part because of her drive and hopefully part because she already is feeling the pressure of what real life gives you.
Many parents make the mistake of not helping their child build up credit during college. This can cause problems down the road if they want to rent an apartment, buy a car, or get their own credit card. You should at least start with a secured credit card in college and then graduate to an unsecured card so you can help your child build their credit score.
More importantly, you should be clear when you move your child out of the house about who is responsible for what bills. With my daughter, I agreed to pay for her auto insurance for one year and her mobile phone bill, but all of the other bills were her responsibility. One year from now, she will take over those remaining bills and then essentially be off the “family payroll” for good.
I am betting that many of you who have become financially successful achieved that status because you worked hard and took responsibility early in life. Or you just didn’t have any choice – it was fight or flight!
That meant that if you didn’t work your tail off, you wouldn’t have enough money to cover rent or get groceries. So, you did everything you could to make sure you could meet your bills. Why not instill those same values in your kids?
If you offer your child a comment such as, “don’t worry about if it doesn’t work out, as you can always come home,” then you can be certain that they will never really get on their own two feet. Of course, all of us want to help our children. However, letting them know there is always a “Plan B” will never really help them find their own way.
If you have multiple children at home (like me), one thing you can be sure of is that they are all watching your moves and they are all keeping score.
So if you give your first child a new car then the rest of the kids will expect that as well. If you let them live home for two years, then you can expect that the others will assume they can live at home for two years as well. If you give them a head start gift of $5,000 … you get the idea.
So it’s about tough love. It’s about setting expectations and it’s key that you as the parent have done your job to help your children start their lives. It’s OK to let them experience the challenges of struggle. Through struggle is where most great successes are born.
I cannot say that I didn’t get into an argument or two or three with everyone in the house. My family is the real pride in my life and why I work so hard every day. Sometimes, we have to make a difficult decision and know it’s the right one. Make those tough calls. Unless you want those grown-up kids living home after college, you too should follow my advice about kicking your kids out of the house.