You probably hadn’t planned on your grown child living with you after college or after he seemed settled in a job or marriage. For the first time, 20-somethings and 30-somethings have eclipsed those 85-years-old and older as the age group most likely to live in a multigenerational household

Many post recession American family members move in together for medical reasons, convenience, pure affection, or to assuage loneliness. However, most moves are financially driven, especially for recent college graduates. The strain of paying off tuition loans, a difficult job hunt, high rents, job loss, or wanting to save for a place of their own make returning to the nest an appealing solution.

The Silver Lining

If or when you wrestle with the question of being a financial safety net for your adult child, or how to navigate delicate money problems and questions when you are all under one roof again, consider that helping adult children now benefits parents later. The Longitudinal Study of Generations has been examining relationships in families and how they change over time since its inception in 1971. The study found that the longer parents support their grown children, the more likely they are to help their parents financially—and emotionally—in parents’ later years. In other words, take care of your adult children now; they will take care of you later.

Depending on your family’s financial circumstances, money questions can be a constant thorn or a nonissue in the relationship. Up-front discussions and even loose agreements help reduce the risk of ongoing money tension.

Putting Money Matters in Their Proper Place 

Like other issues such as adjusting to the changes in your adult children since they left home originally, straighten out money details in the beginning and tweak them along the way as needed so everyone feels the arrangement is fair. Because generations often have different views on work and money, you will want to talk through what or how your adult child can contribute.

Here are guidelines to follow when considering money matters in your new living situation:

  • Address the topic directly. 
  • Talk through money difficulties early on and reach reasonable agreements so that dollars-and-cents conversations can fade into the background.
  • If your son or daughter has a part-time or full-time job, select a reasonable token weekly or monthly “rent” to use for household expenses or to put away to return to your child at a later date.
  • Be precise about what an adult child is responsible for—his own car or cellphone payments, car insurance, for example.
  • No paycheck? Agree on in-kind contributions: yard work, shopping, cooking… 
  • Keep money issues in the family. Don’t discuss your family’s financial arrangements with friends, other relatives or members of your book club. 
  • Don’t allow money to define or dominate the relationship.
  • Separate money problems from other problems you may have with your child or she with you.

Do you have an adult child living with you? How do or did you negotiate money matters?

Adapted in part from research for my book, Under One Roof Again: All Grown Up and (Re)learning to Live Together Happily

Related: Living with Parents: Stunted Development or Opportunity? and The College Grad Comes Home: Essential solutions for living with your college graduate again and Is College Necessary? Ask Recent Graduates 


Fry, Richard and Passell, Jeffrey S. “In Post-Recession Era, Young Adults Drive Continuing Rise in Multi-Generational Living.” 17 July, 2014.

Silverstein, Merril and Conroy, Stephen. “Does Having a Good Relationship with Your Children Pay Off?” The Longitudinal Study of Generations. University of Southern California, 2000,

Copyright @ 2014 Susan Newman

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photo credit: Images_of_Money via photopin cc

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