Surviving the boomerang generation

He's baaack!
Sarah Twomey | Desjardins Group

Doesn't it figure? Just when you thought it was safe to sneak off into retirement, your 20-something-year-old baby has moved back home to reclaim his teenage bedroom in the basement. "It's OK, it'll only be for a few months," he tells you as he brushes by with a few boxes and mismatched furniture in tow. You've never felt so lucky before in your life, have you? Honestly though, you're not alone. According to the 2011 Statistics Canada census, 42.3% of young adults aged 20 to 29 were living with their parents.

Of course you're happy to have him home, but you may have underestimated the impact his return can have on the family and your finances, especially if he's between jobs. There's no question that the cost of running your household will go up and a certain amount of your freedom will be lost.

To avoid any misunderstandings or unpleasant surprises, it's important to first clarify the rules of the house. Discuss the use of common areas and shared resources like TV and laundry, as well as meal times. You also need to broach the delicate issue of guests who might drop in.

Some families even go so far as to sign a contract. Whatever form your agreement takes, it's important to define the following conditions with your child:
  • Length of stay. In most cases, children move back home due to unforeseen events. Your child will tell you it's only temporary, so agree to review the situation at regular intervals, for instance every three months.
  • Rent. You could ask your child to pay for room and board (i.e. their share of the rent, groceries, hydro, internet, etc.). Or it could be a nominal amount based on what they can afford. Or you could give him the option to pay his way by helping out around the house. This could mean day-to-day chores or bigger jobs like cleaning the eaves troughs, painting the house, cleaning out the garage, etc. All this allows him to maintain a certain level of responsibility and pride. 
  • Savings. If it turns out that you don't really need the added income, consider investing it for your child to help him get back on his feet. One option is a guaranteed investment fund.
During this period of transition, make sure you stay on top of any changes in your finances. If things look like they're shifting too much, don't hesitate to talk to your financial advisor. 

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