Charging Your Kids Room and Board

by Ginger

My daughter, a recent college graduate, moved back home after graduation. She has a well-paying job and she’s living at home to build up her savings. She has no student loans. DH and I discussed that once DD starts working full time, she should contribute to household expenses, and we agreed on a monthly amount for room and board.

We broached the topic with DD a couple of months before she started her job. She was angry and offended. She’s reluctantly paying room and board while slowly getting used to the idea. She’s also finding out that some of her friends are paying room and board, too, as well making student loan payments.

DH and I both paid room and board for the short time that we lived at home after college. Totebaggers, did you pay room and board if/when you moved back home after college? Do you plan on asking your kids to contribute to household expenses if they live with you post-graduation?

My grown kid lives at home. How much rent should I charge?

Why you should consider charging your kids board


117 thoughts on “Charging Your Kids Room and Board

  1. I lived at home after college for about six months. My parents did not charge me. I’m glad too because my first job wasn’t great, but the savings allowed me to get a car, furnishings and move into my own apartment. I also had another sibling at home too, so it wasn’t a big deal. I think my parents weren’t in a hurry to shoo us out of the nest. Six months was long enough for me though. I was itching to be independent.

  2. In our culture, extended families are more normal than average. For this reason, I cannot imagine charging my kids rent. However, I would expect them to help with chores, errands, and some expenses such as buying groceries. Especially if they were building up their savings.

    If they were living at home for a long time while not studying, working, or looking for a job, that would be a very different situation! I would definitely charge rent, and put a deadline on how long they could stay.

  3. Ginger,

    If your parents lived with you, would you charge them rent? No offense intended–I’m just trying to understand the norms of charging rent to family members.

  4. He has lived in their house for two years, since he graduated from Harvard. and now he works as a paralegal in a law firm

    If after paying Harvard $240k they couldn’t easily afford their own apartment, I’d demand a fucking refund.

  5. All I can say is “it depends.” Short-term, no; I mean, if my kid needs a place to stay for a few months after college while job-hunting or saving up for an apartment downpayment, that’s sort of what I’m here for. And if it’s a longer-term deal because the kid is out of work or hurting financially, then of course not; I’m always going to be my kids’ safety net (although I’d likely expect some version of help/chores as payment in kind). My brother lives in his mom’s basement long-term, and it works out well for them; he has had depression and employment issues, so it has been a lifesaver for him, and is still useful even though he has held a good job for several years now; and it works for her because she travels extensively for weeks at a time and likes knowing he is there to take care of the house.

    But if the kid is doing fine — is healthy, has a decent job, etc., and wants to stay for say a year while saving for a house downpayment or whatever, then I would probably charge some version of rent to cover room and board, because I don’t want the kid to develop an unrealistic expectation of what is affordable on that salary. Otherwise, I think I’d get annoyed at everything the kid chose to spend money on that I considered “frivolous,” because I’d feel like I was subsidizing an inflated lifestyle. However, because we don’t need the money, I’d also probably secretly put it into an account for the kid as a nest egg/emergency fund that I’d give them when they move out.

    But what do I know? I won’t be there for years, and I’ll probably change my mind by then, like I did about DD’s car.

  6. The mom of a friend of mine charged her rent, but afterwards, turned it all over for a down payment on a condo. I doubt I would charge my kid rent after college, but if I did, I would probably just keep it in a separate account and use it in the future for a down payment on a property.

  7. I moved into an apartment with a college friend after graduation. It worked out for two years, but then she wanted to move in with her boyfriend. I moved back home in order to figure out my next steps. I don’t think they charged me rent, but I vaguely remember paying for my phone (separate line), and maybe $100 a month. I only stayed for four months so I am not sure what would have happened if it was for more time.

  8. Ginger – If I had moved home after college, my parents would have charged me for room and board (at a lower rate than market, but still). My dad loaned me money for my first apartment in NY after grad school for my share of first month rent, last month rent and the security deposit. I paid his car payment for about three years (with interest) to pay him back. I have never borrowed money from family since (nor have they offered or gifted me anything, small amounts for birthday, Christmas aside).

    DH moved home after college and I’m pretty sure he contributed to household expenses. Not sure about rent.

    What you are doing with your daughter sounds normal to me.

  9. The culture of my family of origin was very much like the one Houston described. There was a time when an adult nephew of my mom lived with my parents — the nephew (my cousin) had purchased a condo in a new development, and the construction was delayed by many months, so my parents offered him a place to live between the time he thought he was going to be in his new condo, and the time that he could actually move in. Mom and Dad would never have dreamed of charging him rent. My cousin, for his part, was a very respectful member of the household, helping out with all the things Houston mentioned (chores, home maintenance, shopping, etc). This is just how it was done in our world.

    I get the sense, though, that for many native-born Americans, it is the norm for adult kids to pay rent if they are living with Mom and Dad. My DH paid his parents rent a couple of times when he moved in with them for somewhat-extended periods. He never expected to not pay rent in that situation.

  10. Similar question–Does everyone kick their kids off their cell phone plans when the kids graduate from college? If the kids stay on the family cell phone plan, do they reimburse parents a certain amount monthly?

  11. “I get the sense, though, that for many native-born Americans, it is the norm for adult kids to pay rent if they are living with Mom and Dad.”

    DH is first generation American, so this may not be a native-born parents/ immigrant parents split.

    Also, there seems to be a presumption that the parents are well-off. That may not be the case even for totebaggers.

  12. I lived at home after library school and worked at a low paying job while I applied to philosophy programs. My parents charged me $100 a month, which even back then was a pittance. If they’d charged me market I would have left. I tried living with my sister for a few months (she was living in one of my parents’ houses and was also heavily subsidized), but that situation crashed and burned pretty quickly.

  13. My aunt, who lived in the town my first job was in, allowed me to stay rent-free for two months. We shared food costs and I did all the cooking. I quit my part-time job at college two weeks before starting my full-time job. That first job only paid us monthly, so I didn’t have the cash flow or enough savings to front all the deposits, purchase professional clothing (had two interview suits, three tops and one pair of shoes) to cover more than 3 days, and other moving costs on only one part-time pay check. If I had stayed longer I would have started paying rent.

    As for my DDs – I agree with the article that the situation or reason the child is living at home is important both in determining whether and how much to charge. If they are unemployed upon graduation and are actively seeking employment, I don’t think I would charge them room and board. However, if during this same period that are spending lavishly on themselves, I would re-think that position. If there is other in-kind consideration, such as caregiving for me or their dad or taking on chores I would otherwise pay for, then I would take the market value of that into account when setting the rate. Of course the permutations are endless.

    Lastly, one thing not directly mentioned is how expensive housing is. Currently a one bedroom in my city is renting for $1350 a month on average and the rental market has been tight for the past year. For that to be 1/4 of their take home pay (the rule of thumb BIMD – back in my day), they would need to clear just over $5K a month, which exceeds the median household income for the city.

  14. Actually, now that I think of it, I remember that back when my brother was finishing law school, and thinking about settling in the Boston area, my parents were seriously considering building an apartment over their garage for him so that he could have a place to live for free. He decided to settle elsewhere, despite (or perhaps because of??) that offer.

  15. Houston – I recently learned that my 25 year old nephew who has had a good full time job for 3 years and lives on his own is still on his parent’s Netflix and cell phone accounts. I think he only recently started paying his own car insurance. I was very surprised. My dad is probably rolling over in his grave.

  16. I lived at home for ~2yrs after graduation (undergrad). I paid $100/month room & board and I thought it was reasonable. It could have been more. I was making, grossing, about $1,000/month no car/student loans. I think my folks wanted me to be able to build my savings before I went to grad school and, IIRC, my mom gave me all the money I paid back to me when I left for grad school. So having me pay was more of a principle thing about being a responsible person.

    If any of our kids live with us after graduation, we’ll charge’em room/board. Probably something de minimis like I was charged (say 10% of gross), which yeah, modeling my mom, we’d probably give it back to them when they moved out whether for grad school or as a starter fund for their own place.

  17. My stepson was on my in-laws’ family cell plan while DH was in law school, and then DH spaced on the fact and DSS stayed on it for a few more years. NATURALLY my MIL just silently seethed until one day we were visiting and the subject came up and she quietly blew up. I had my checkbook with me and wrote her a check for $1K on the spot and glared at DH, who was just looking blank.

  18. It depends if this is a long term or a short term arrangement. If the kid is aggressively saving to move out I would forgo charging them rent with the expectation that they move out within a certain time frame. If it’s an indefinite arrangement then I would expect a contribution to the household. Some of my cousins who are not married live long term with their parents.
    There is the flip side like us, where the in laws live with us but because culturally they are not supposed to pay rent for living their kids, they don’t. They help out in the house but have never paid even their personal expenses. This I find weird because in the home country those seniors who have savings do contribute towards their expenses.

  19. “They help out in the house but have never paid even their personal expenses. This I find weird because in the home country those seniors who have savings do contribute towards their expenses.”

    Once again demonstrating Louise’s eligibility for sainthood. . . .

  20. I lived at home for a few months after college. During that time I was looking for a car and an apartment, and it was nice to have some money saved up for the new car, apartment, and furnishings. I had given myself a deadline that I wanted out, so the subject of paying rent to my parents never came up.

    I like the idea of charging rent and then giving it all back as a down payment on a house. If my kids end up living with me for more than just a few months I’ll probably do something like that.

    I have a coworker whose adult son is living with them, rent free. They have an agreement that as long as he is in school they won’t charge him. So he takes one online college class a semester. He knows a good deal when he sees it.

  21. My DD lives at home and does not pay room and board. She has been out of school for almost 18 months, and is saving to buy a place. She pays for her car and insurance, cell phone, some groceries, etc. She also cooks occasionally, picks up dinner, runs errands, and generally helps out. She and DH were carpooling so they can take the HOV, which made his life much easier. They are not riding together right now and he is hating it. Her field is not great paying, so I’m actually pretty pleased to see that she is being careful with her money. She does spend some on a trainer and nutritionist, which she could never afford living on her own, but that doesn’t bother me. My biggest concern is that she’s not as social as she could be because we’re in the suburbs. She sometimes doesn’t feel like driving back into the city to do things with friends. DS is a full time student and is living at home for another few months. He has no money, but he does offer to do grocery store runs and take care of things for us. They both do more than just clean up after themselves and actually contribute to the functioning of the household. If I were concerned they were abusing it or were never planning to move out it might bother me, but I enjoy them and I benefit as well. It is more like a roommate situation than parent-child at this point. I don’t anticipate charging them anytime soon, but won’t rule it out.

  22. Louise – Your ILs don’t even help cover groceries? What about when you go out to eat as a family? Do they grab the check, or you do pay for their meals too?

  23. I think it’s probably the right thing to do to expect a kid who is working to contribute to the household expenses. At that point they are adults, and they should be treated and respected like adults. It helps move the relationship along, out of the parent/authority – child/dependent realm. I think in Ginger’s situation, I’d expect the daughter to pay all of her own personal expenses (gas, groceries, clothes, cell phone, car insurance, etc.), and to kick in a few extra hundred dollars each month to cover a fair share of the household utilities – water. electric, cable, gas, etc..

    But I do agree with others that if it’s a temporary situation in between moves or while actively looking for a job, I likely wouldn’t charge in those circumstances (but I probably wouldn’t be covering incidentals, either).

  24. Cell phone: DS1 (24) just got a new phone this week. We have Verizon and have been paying for all the kids’ cell phone service. He checked out the other major providers and to get what he shares now with us would cost him $90-$100/month (I don’t think he looked at smaller providers like Cricket and MetroPCS). To keep him on our unlimited plan costs $20/mo for his line access + $30(?) to pay for the phone over 24 months + $10 for the protection plan + tax. The base cost to have an account with up to 5 lines is $110.

    Since I’m going to pay the $110 anyway, I think we’ll settle on $60/month that he’ll pay for the incremental line+phone+protection plan. DS is fully onboard with paying his share and I’m perfectly fine with him just paying his incremental. Or maybe DW will say no charge.

    The transition to 100% adulating and off the payroll of mom & dad has been gradual. He’s owned up to it but as cheap as I am I also don’t feel any special need to push him to pay for everything when him paying incremental costs is a good transitional process.

  25. Lemon Tree – the in laws don’t contribute financially at all. It’s a blessing that we are doing well enough to support the parents and kids comfortably.

  26. As a mother of 4, I think about how to keep parental assistance roughly even across children and also about the long-term effects on employment opportunity of continuing to live with us-in most fields, moving away is probably a better long-term plan. I am also assuming DH and I are healthy and economically self-sufficient.

    I’d charge rent for an employed child who was not attending school but probably not market rate. You can live (and store your stuff) at home while attending school. I’d also allow the child’s spouse, if any, similar privileges. Assuming we are able, I’ll fund your medical insurance through undergrad and possibly into graduate school. Not sure about subsidizing your medical insurance if you have a low-paying job- maybe public healthcare will be a reality by then anyway.

    I suspect our Netflix account or equivalent will be shared until no longer applicable and our kids would pay only the incremental cost for cell phones/car insurance.

    In my dotage, I would pay rent if I live with a child, based on the principle that you should try to keep it even.

    Fairness principles no longer apply if a child or grandchild has major health issues like cancer or severe disability- DH and I work hard so we can be a safety net in situations like that.

  27. Houston – in terms of my personal situation and the broader topic, people are different. Some might contribute readily, some might take offense and for some it would be a light bulb moment. So, one has to decide how much the money is worth or if household harmony is worth more.

  28. DD gives us slightly less than 10% of her gross. We wouldn’t have charged anything if this were a temporary living arrangement or if she was unemployed or if she was still a full-time student. I’ve offered my home, without any intention of asking for room and board, to my nieces and nephews when they were looking to move to our area for jobs and school.

    Good question, Houston. I would not charge my parents rent but knowing them they would insist on giving me something. When they visit, they always want to pay for food, especially if it’s something like a big piece of meat for a holiday dinner. MIL is the same way. My parents are on my cell phone plan and I pick up the cost for that. It’s just easier than dealing with the Trak phone or whatever they had earlier when I had to help them buy minutes. We recently got my mother an iPhone and she loves it, especially as she’s getting more familiar with all the functions.

    Our expectation is that we’ll probably return the funds to my daughter in one form or another (down payment, nest egg, etc.). Right now, she’s on our car insurance but she pays us for her share. We pay for her cell phone, and she has one of our credit cards that she uses when she buys groceries or other house stuff.

  29. I lived with my parents after college for about 8 months and paid rent. I think it was $200/month (in 1995). My brother had just graduated high school and spent the summer working at a camp, then went off to college, so I was the only kid at home but they had not yet experienced an empty nest. I lived in the basement with tapestries hung to create more privacy in the sleeping area since the stairs to access the garage came through my living area. I started looking to move out to an apartment, but my parents convinced me to buy a townhome instead (for the same monthly payment ~$500/month) by giving me down-payment money from an account my grandparents had set up for me when I was a child – basically leftover funds that were not needed for college but not in an education-restricted account. When I was looking to buy a used piano for my new place, my parents used the rent money I had paid them to buy one for me. That piano has moved to every home I’ve had since then.
    I imagine I would offer my DD a similar deal if she ever wanted to settle in her hometown, but no charge if she just needs to crash after college or between jobs or roommates. If I have the funds, I will also help with down payment on a starter home. That first home made all the difference in establishing my independence, both before marriage and after divorce. It also helps that my parents financed my current home interest free, which my grandparents did for my parents and I would also do for my DD if I can.

  30. Haha. I “forgot” that we’re still subsidizing our adult in-the-workforce kid’s cell phone bill. I think it’s only $40 or less a month, but still. We gave him his last phone as a b-day present.

    This thread makes me think in a philosophical way how much money I want to give my adult kids. I want to be generous, but I place a huge value on self reliance. There’s a balance in how to handle this, and part of it depends on the particular kid. But then I’d want to treat both kids equally/fairly.

  31. I would love to say that we will let both kids live at home rent free for x years while they work/go to grad school/meet the person of their dreams/plan a wedding/get ready to give us adorable grandchildren but we all know that God laughs when we make plans. If it works out that way I will be happy. Most days I’m in no hurry to have them leave. We’ll assess at the time if it makes sense to charge them rent. If we charged rent it would likely be returned to them as a house downpayment.

    However…I can’t get my 15 yo old off my cell phone contract fast enough! I’ll pay for undergrad and even consider grad school, but I charge her the blasted $15 each time she goes over our data plan because she felt the need to snapchat pictures of her forehead.

    Education is an investment. Pictures of your forehead are a waste of money. You can pay for your own damn forehead pictures.

  32. The “boys” are all on our cell phone plan, but we take the same approach as Fred. The incremental cost of an extra line is much less than what they would pay on their own, and they have set up auto pay via Venmo so I don’t have to nag them.

  33. “This thread makes me think in a philosophical way how much money I want to give my adult kids.”

    DH wants to give them much more than I do. I’m happy to pay for undergrad and we’ve saved to give them a bit towards grad school. I’m happy to chip in for their weddings and treat them to dinner once in a while. But that’s it.

    I can see us continuing to illegally share our entertainment accounts. DS1 is in college and used our Netflix and HBO accounts. DH uses DS’s Spotify and Hulu account. It all works out somehow.

  34. We didn’t charge anything when they moved back in temporarily after graduation while job-hunting. As others have noted, it was fun to have them around and we all knew it was temporary. If one of the non-married ones wanted to move back in for grad school or between jobs, we would probably not charge rent either unless it became apparent that the free room and board was an obstacle to responsible adult behavior. We are blessed to be in the position to offer a safety net to our kids that was not really possible for our own parents to provide. If my Dad had to move in with us, either temporarily or for good, we wouldn’t accept payments but then he doesn’t have much to offer so it’s only a theoretical issue.

    Overall, I think that it’s good for grown “kids” to support themselves, and not to count on being able to move back home in order to free up resources for other spending priorities. Even if the parents don’t mind (and actually enjoy) having them around. But we haven’t been tested yet, so who knows.

  35. One of my brothers moved back home after having too much fun at college (i.e. basically flunking out.) My parents charged him rent and insisted he get a job. It only took him a year or so to realize this was NOT the lifestyle to which he aspired; he got focused, changed his major, and graduated a few years later. As a graduation gift, my parents gave the rent money back to him.

    Another brother moved back home for a year or so following a divorce. I was out of the house by then, so I don’t know the financial details.

    Two of my kids are out of college; they are both still on our cell phone plan (we pay about $20 each/month for their service, they pay for their devices.) They have our Netflix and Amazon Prime passwords for streaming, but our DD has shared her Hulu password with us (she gets it w/her Spotify College subscription, which she pays for.) Their cars are insured in our name but they reimburse us for the insurance payments (significant savings for them if we do this — both are in graduate school in urban areas of California, and as long as they are students the insurance company underwriter said this was OK.) Both remain on the family health insurance plan — because we’d still be paying for our college-aged child anyway, it’s no additional cost to us to cover them as well. Our oldest will age out of our insurance coverage next year and have to buy insurance through his university.

    Finally, we pay for their airplane tickets to come visit us, or their grandparents.

    My parents had “family loan account” that they used to lend money interest-free to kids who needed help w/things like house or car down-payments. We had to set up a payback plan with them ($x/month) and as far as I know all of us stuck to the agreed upon payments. That was HUGELY helpful when we were younger, and we plan to do the same with our kids.

  36. But that’s it.

    So they get it all when they are 6? when they presumably have plenty of their own money? Wouldn’t it be better to give it to them when they need it and/or could make use of it?

  37. “Education is an investment. Pictures of your forehead are a waste of money. You can pay for your own damn forehead pictures.”

    I am laughing REALLY hard here, because for several months DD’s pics automatically loaded onto my phone until I figured out how to turn that off, so I know that feeling exactly.

    I think a lot of things have changed so that 18 or 21 or college graduation isn’t an automatic cut-off — prices of apartments in places where lots of jobs exist, medical insurance until 26, family cellphone plans and other accounts, etc. etc. etc. And, of course, the fact that I now live in a very different socioeconomic class than when I was DD’s age. I imagine people in my current class have always subsidized their kids while they launched, just in different ways than they currently do.

    I guess you could say that my mom and I still subsidize each other, as we each have various subscription services that the other has the password to. ;-) That’s the kind of thing I can see continuing indefinitely just through sheer inertia.

  38. “Wouldn’t it be better to give it to them when they need it and/or could make use of it?”

    But *I* need it and/or could make use of it.

  39. I am not joking about the forehead pictures. Around here, kids have stopped snapchatting their entire faces, and instead will snap just their forehead, half of a face, a random ear, their breakfast, etc. I have even seen the empty tabletop that happens to be in front of them, to which they add a caption in letters too small for me to read. This behavior also extends to my 19 year old college freshman, tho he is smart enough not to be a data hog while snapping a pic of only the toe of his sneaker.

    I know…this is not how the world ends, and this too shall pass. But in the meantime I have no desire to pay for it.

  40. OMG Louise, sainthood x infinity! Please tell me that their estate plan leaves everything to your DH!!!

  41. Rhett, I deny your base assumption that I’m obligated to support my kids beyond what I’ve outlined.

    We wouldn’t dream of taking money from my parents or ILs to support anything we do. Pride, relationship messiness, etc. Even for apartment (starter apartment for me included 3 roommates, with one living in a large walk in closet), or especially a mortgage. I expect them to get jobs to support their lifestyle.

  42. My parents treat my siblings and I and our families to a big family reunion every year. We have to pay our own travel, but they cover everything else – lodging, food, car rental. This used to be in the summer, now it is more often around New Years. They love having the family together (6 kids + spouses, 18 grands + grand-spouses) and say they like being able to see us enjoying their inheritance.

  43. I lived at home the summer between college and law school, but I did have a temp job at that point. My parents paid for part of my rent when I ran out of my 2L summer money and was studying for the bar. They also paid for my siblings’ rent while they were in grad school and/or un- or underemployed. There were no jobs where we grew up so it would have been hard for us to live at home after school.

  44. One thing I’d like to do when we’re no longer paying double tuitions is to fund an annual or bi-annual family vacation for our kids, their SO and any grand kids. We’ll fund the accomodations and airfare. They just need to show up. Hopefully everyone will get along and continue to enjoy each other’s company.

  45. Rhett, I deny your base assumption that I’m obligated to support my kids beyond what I’ve outlined.

    It’s not about obligation, it’s about getting the most value out of the money. You’re going to give it to them one way or the other*. Why not when they are younger and it will yield more bang for the buck.

    * If you have awesome milo like uses for the money that’s different.

  46. * If you have awesome milo like uses for the money that’s different.

    Of course I do…..Grandkids!!!! : ) 529’s. Trips to Disney. Insanely expensive dolls and Lego sets. Laptops, phones.

    I’d rather send the grand kids to college and not fund the kids. This is most likely the compromise that DH and I will make.

  47. What Milo said. My kids can have my money when I’m finished with it. In the interim, I’ll abide by trickle-down economics: I’ll pay for kid/grandkid stuff that I think is fun, like vacations in cool places, and they can have the fun of accompanying me. :-)

  48. My parents ended up paying for education but not for weddings or houses. Some parents of my ethnicity who can afford it will pay for all three but then there are too many strings attached and relationships can get complicated. The parents often end up feeling like their kids are not grateful enough.

  49. Louise, after you have stabbed your in-laws and your husband, you can live in my house while you create a new identity and start your new life.

  50. I recently discovered that ALL of my younger cousins and nephews are still part of a family cell phone plan. I am learning a lot of details about finances because we want our nephew (almost 30) to start paying for more of his own expenses since my FIL (almost 90) will have to pay all of the expenses after my step MIL passes away. My nephew is on their cell phone plan and they pay for a lot of other expenses too – auto insurance, accountant, air tickets, and other stuff too. t complained to my aunt on my side of the family and I learned that she didn’t think it was so strange because she pays for cell phones for her kids (32 and 36 year old) plus auto insurance for one kid. I spoke to some of my college friends that have children that are young adults, and almost all are paying for cell phone service. Only one person said they get money for the cell phone bill.

    I do admit that we were using my dad’s password for SHO until about 3 years ago when our cable package changed to all premium channels. I still don’t have a Costco membership because I go with one of my parents since they’re both members. I do pay for my own stuff, but my brother tries to get them to buy stuff without reimbursing them. Since they live in small apartments, some people keep TP and/or PT in their car trunks. I used to take rolls of TP or PT until I got married if they offered it to me. MY stepfather used to call me the sponge because I was always taking “free” TP, PT and tissues from their trunks. This was long before Amazon and a roll of toilet paper in Manhattan used to cost triple the price of any other place. Free delivery and national pricing for basics such as diapers, and other goods has changed everything in high costs places like Manhattan.

  51. I’d rather send the grand kids to college

    So the kids won’t have to put away $200/month per kid so you’re still giving it to them. By your logic they should be paying for their own kids college.

  52. My husband lived rentfree with his parents for a couple of years after graduation. He was working as an engineer. He built up some savings, which we ended up using years later when we bought the house. In his family’s culture, living at home in young adulthood is considered normal.

  53. My parents always paid my airfare (and later, DH’s airfare) to come visit, because they recognized that visiting one’s parents isn’t a vacation, it’s a duty. DH’s parents haven’t given us a fucking penny, but we’re still supposed to come visit. Hm, I’m finding I have a certain amount of resentment aimed at DH’s parents.

    If we can do so without hardship, I’ll always pay DSS’s and my DIL’s airfare to come see us.

  54. To the fairness among children point WCE brought up – SO has MAJOR hangups about the lack of fairness his parents showed between him and his older sister. From my limited knowledge and interaction with them before they passed away, they would think they needed to take care of a female more than a male, she was older so her “needs” happened first, and, honestly, they may not have had much to spare after helping her out. One side effect of this hang up is that DD#2 has a slightly odd spelling of her first name to make sure the total amount of letters in each kids name was the same (6 in first name, 4 in middle name, 8 in last name). On the other hand, he tends to be more generous with DD#2 and take her side in any altercation with DD#1.

    When and how much to give children? My parents had a philosophy that they didn’t want to give too much before they were sure they didn’t need it for their own care as they aged. This doesn’t count the small monthly contributions they made into savings for each grandchild. But, like RMS’ parents, they realized that spending time with your parents in not the way you want to spent all your vacation time. So, by paying for tickets and meeting them in various places, it meant they saw more of me (only child) than they might have otherwise.

  55. “but then there are too many strings attached and relationships can get complicated. The parents often end up feeling like their kids are not grateful enough.”

    “DH’s parents haven’t given us a fucking penny, but we’re still supposed to come visit.”

    Sometimes you can’t win for trying. I want gratitude but what exactly should I reasonably expect. Some parents might expect their kids to kiss the ground they walk on. Are there strings attached with money I give or receive? It can get very complicated.

    Lauren, the TP in the car trunk story is amusing. Many young people in NYC have their lifestyles heavily subsidized by wealthy parents, as my son has informed me on many occasions. :)
    Unsurprisingly, this further widens the gap between haves and have nots.

  56. Well, July, after all — they’re not my parents, they’re my in-laws. I’m sure DH would give you a different answer.

  57. Our guys are all still on our cell phone plan because DH and I are too lazy to deal with Verizon to change the plan. We figure when one of them wants to upgrade his phone, he can get his own plan at that point. We’ve purchased our last phone for the guys. I think. DH might feel differently.
    I get what Rhett is trying to say (I think) about passing along money sooner rather than after you die. I’ve heard it referred to as “giving with warm hands.” But unless you have more than you could possibly ever need, it is really hard to know how long you will live and how much you might need in that future. I do think it is a big mistake for parents to open endedly subsidize their adult children in a lifestyle those kids could not afford on their own. I’ve seen it happen in two cases (so of course this is what will always happen) that the high earning dad died late 50’s, and the adult kids still expected mom, who never worked and now must live on the retirement fund without the $400K salary dad was bringing in, to continue to pay for Totebag Country Day for the four adorable and brilliant grandchildren. Created a bad situation between mom and her entitled daughter. Sad all around.

  58. I lived at home for 1 year while finding a job and saving for a downpayment. Job took 3 months; down payment, 1 year. I was expected to help out around the house, make dinner often, not make a mess of things, and go to church weekly.

    I have at least 1 friend from high school (over 40) who I believe is still somewhat subsidized by her wealthy parents. She is married and pursuing a career (artistic photography and non-profit work) that does not make much money. Her brother (~35) lives in NYC and has been subsidized the whole time there. He just got married so I assume it continues. Friend complains about her dad often on FB and how he was too strict and the ensuing trauma. (I was there, he was not that bad) I would be embarrassed to still take money at that age….barring a major life tragedy (bankruptcy, divorce, etc).

  59. “But unless you have more than you could possibly ever need, it is really hard to know how long you will live and how much you might need in that future.”

    ITA. One of the best things that parents can do for their children is to provide for their own retirement needs. If all goes well, the kids get a windfall in late middle age, which they can use to augment their own retirement savings. But if someone needs expensive assisted living care, the money is there.

  60. I supervise two people in their mid-20’s and I was surprised they were both still on their parents’ cell phone plans. Like Swim, we charge DD when she goes over our pooled data limits – and DH is looking forward to the day when she is on her own plan.

    I have really good health insurance so I can see our kids staying on my plan until they age out.

    When the kids are older, I hope DH and I are in a financial position that we could fund family trips/reunions. I would love to be able to do this. And to be able to pay their airfare when they come see us. My parents never had the means to do this.

    I don’t think I’d charge our kids rent if they ended up moving back in with us as long as they were in-school or working and saving for a down payment. They would have to cook dinner at least once a week (I can’t wait to stop cooking dinner!)

  61. “By your logic they should be paying for their own kids college.”

    OK. I don’t mind that either. Why do you care so much about this? Before I joined this community, I didn’t even know that parents helped pay for down payment on house or numerous other expenses.

    I’m a generous parent when the kids are/were young. I paid fully for their college education. Let that be enough.

  62. My parents never paid for my airfare home. I didn’t expect it from them. My mother was just starting her career when I left home, and once I started working, I was making more than her. My father helped with other financial stuff when I was younger – he bought our sofa, for example – and he always took us out to dinner when we visited, and once there were kids, he would buy lots of things for them when visiting.

  63. “The transition to 100% adulating and off the payroll of mom & dad has been gradual.”

    Are you and your DW the subject of the adulation?

    Sorry, couldn’t resist. I know it’s a typo, but one I found humorous and indicative of great parenting success.

  64. We don’t have problems with our kids going over data limits, because the plans we got for them give unlimited data, albeit with limits on 4G data. Once they hit their 4G caps for the month, they get throttled down to 3G for the rest of the month.

  65. A few things I see UMC grandparents offering is condo/home at the beach. My kids adore this perk that some of their friends have. The other is swim, tennis and golf clubs. If grandparents have membership the grandkids could go as guests. I called around and the waitlists for the more popular ones with high fees are long. I found a smaller one without golf and low fees. The YMCA is a great option but doesn’t have tennis.
    I don’t think grandparents are providing for K-12 private school fees. They would rather spend it on the premium version of The Villages.

  66. “I can see us continuing to illegally share our entertainment accounts. DS1 is in college and used our Netflix and HBO accounts. DH uses DS’s Spotify and Hulu account.”

    Is such sharing really illegal? I read somewhere that account sharing such as college kids continuing to use parents’ Netflix accounts was OK.

    “They have our Netflix and Amazon Prime passwords for streaming, but our DD has shared her Hulu password with us (she gets it w/her Spotify College subscription, which she pays for.) “

    We never got Amazon Prime for ourselves, but DS got an account when he started school, and we use his account (I think DW paid the fee). He also got the same Spotify/Hulu subscription, and now DW is thinking about using his Hulu account.

    If Mooshi can get Spotify to work with her existing audio system as we discussed yesterday, I may try do something similar with DS’ account. That might mean listening to his playlists, but he and I like a lot of the same music.

  67. “My parents always paid my airfare (and later, DH’s airfare) to come visit, because they recognized that visiting one’s parents isn’t a vacation, it’s a duty.”

    When I was single and living in SV, my dad would give me a check to cover my airfare whenever I visited them, but I always considered those visits to be vacations.

  68. “ITA. One of the best things that parents can do for their children is to provide for their own retirement needs.”

    +1. And one of those retirement needs is looking after their own health, minimizing caregiving needs in old age, which could likely require their kids’ involvement.

    “If all goes well, the kids get a windfall in late middle age, which they can use to augment their own retirement savings.”

    But which could end up disqualifying grandkids from need-based financial aid.

  69. I would love it if any of my kids came back to live with us after college. Doing so would likely entail a significant financial sacrifice, so we would definitely consider some amount of subsidy to offset that.

    But I think I’d first give the kids a chance to suggest what they should contribute, to household expenses as well as for housing. I would fully expect them to contribute to household chores.

  70. “’The transition to 100% adulating and off the payroll of mom & dad has been gradual.’

    Are you and your DW the subject of the adulation?”

    Well, I certainly did a lot more adulating of my own parents once I had to work a real job and pay my own way. ;-)

  71. Eldest finished college at 29 and lived in many different situations along the way. As for the more regular three, for 2nd and 3rd I was still at negative net worth, on the plus side by 4th . One lived at home for first 4 mos since her job was in Boston. The other two stayed in their college area and I was a financial backstop during the first couple of years, but not a formal support plan. Generous college graduations gifts in the thousands from grandparents were the seed money. We offered Frequent flyer miles. Family cell phone plans didn’t exist back then. Health Insurance wasnt to 26, it was cut off at 18 years old or college graduation. They got their own car insurance, too. We paid off the student loans for the three that didn’t go into finance. Our deal was parents pay for college to the extent possible, including paying off loans, and nothing for grad school or propping up lifestyle in adulthood. I still help out financially for discrete items (I offer they don’t ask) or send $1000 gift just because, but the day to day is entirely up them. The other grandparents for my 3 grandkids are a couple of clicks above me in wealth, older in age and only 2 kids not 4. They can leave the legacy; I am the local babysitter.

    If it had come up that I was providing a home for an extended period for a working young adult, I am sure I would have gone the rent into a savings account route.

    DD will be 40 in ten days and has lived with us for a couple of years now. She did live on her own for 17 years before returning to Boston to start her business, so I don’t think she needs adulting lessons. She has a walk out basement mother in law type studio full bath and patio. First floor with kitchen and dining area is shared space, but at home hours rarely overlap. We have the master suite and office on the second floor. She pays all of her own personal expenses, insurance, phone, and rents a space nearby for her car (off street overnight parking in our town, condo lot limited to 2 vehicles per unit) She has an office for her business at WeWork downtown, so she goes out every day and networks into the evening. She buys almost all of her own food, maintains her own space, her own laundry, etc. We both text each other on weekly grocery runs, do you need anything. Our home is paid for, we have space, and the incremental cost of her being here is only heat and hot water and 10 dollars extra a week to the cleaning lady. That cost is offset by the cat sitting during our trips, which can run 20-25 dollars a day if you even can find someone to come in. And I like having her here. I would never charge her rent.

    In eastern MA, multi unit family housing is routine in the urban areas and inner ring burbs, and the influx of East and South Asians into the fancier suburbs has made multi generational living more common at the comfortable MC and UMC SES.

    And to Rhett’s point, DH never gives but “lends” his professional ninja warrior and gym trainer 33 year old son money. The kid pays him dribs and drabs back. That is their custom, which seems wrong to me, beyond peculiar, since DH is living like a king in this marriage and takes his RMD every year and buys another CD payable to his son on death so that he will have an inheritance. Go figure.

  72. Why do you care so much about this?

    I think my tone may have been off. I don’t “care”, I just find it fascinating. Especially the idea that someone would call their parents for money rather than the other way around.

  73. Finn +1. My parents left the college money they’d saved directly to the kids. That plus the small amount in an UGMA, her pre-paid tuition account (considered her asset), and her pittance of earned income knocked her out of any need-based financial aid before we even considered any of our other assets/income.

  74. Fairness between kids – sometimes you can’t win on this one. Even though you might give everyone the same or almost same, it helps if everyone achieves the same level of success. There was much biterness on my uncle’s part because he thought his father was unfair but both he and my Dad had received the same initial starting assets. My Dad ended up more successful. My cousins turned out to be similar to their father, waiting for their inheritances from various relatives but not working to make their own money.

  75. “In eastern MA, multi unit family housing is routine in the urban areas and inner ring burbs, ”

    aka triple deckers, and those were/are the norm in CT and RI as well. I have even seen them in many towns in Quebec. My DH spent his younger childhood in one, with grandmother on the top and uncle/aunt/cousins on the bottom. Again, typical for the region and his ethnic group.

  76. I would expect them to help with chores, errands, and some expenses such as buying groceries.

    Call it rent or contributing to expenses. It’s the same thing.

  77. Another update on DS’ college selection process. I’m sharing because it’s fascinating to me that he has become so interested in something he wants to study. He texted me today to tell me he has changed his safety school from Kansas State to UNC. He said they have the environmental sustainability major he wants, and even though he really wants to go out of state, he’d rather stay in Colorado than go to Kansas.

  78. For the benefit of non-Coloradans, I’m pretty sure DD means University of Northern Colorado, not University of North Carolina.

  79. Have any of you looked at Canadian public U’s? DS2 has it in his head that he wants to go to UToronto or UOttawa (McGill is out of our price range and I don’t think they do merit aid for US citizens). I am wondering if those schools take Americans, and how it works. I think it is a long shot, personally, but he is interested.

  80. Yes, Northern Colorado. I thought the “he’d rather stay in Colorado” made it clear it wasn’t North Carolina :)

    Mooshi, we haven’t really looked at them, but we have mentioned them to DD as options since she likes Canada.

  81. One of DS’ best friends is at UBC now, and another of his classmates is at UToronto (a number of his classmates are attending colleges outside the US). We may visit UBC with DD.

    Older brother of one of DS’ besties was pretty sure about going to McGill (they’re half Canadian, so he would’ve paid resident tuition) until he took his admitted student visit, when he realized how difficult it would be not knowing any French, and decided against it.

    Do your kids have Canadian citizenship? Does DS2 understand French?

  82. Mooshi, BTW, the kids we know who attend schools in Canada have Canadian citizenship, which definitely factored into their decision processes.

    But if you go over to CC, you can read about kids without Canadian citizenship considering Canadian schools.

  83. Louise, yes that is the flagship but he has zero interest in it. It’s also not all that cheap.

  84. MM – they definitely take USA kids. Brock Univ (St. Catherines, about 30 min beyond Niagara Falls from here) sends recruiting materials to all the kids here. UToronto is quite the school.

    So apparently it’s set low expectations and overachieve. Per Rocky’s list the post office had suspended delivery today to the 441xx zip codes but something I had sent there was delivered today.

  85. I don’t think charging an adult child room & board is that uncommon. I’ve heard of giving the money back in some cases – only UMC parents though.

    I think, for me, it would depend on the circumstance. A smaller stint at home after graduation while job searching or getting settled in a career – sure. A mutually beneficial arrangement – sure. But there are some situations where the kid needs a kick in the pants or the parents really do need the money. And that’s different.

    I agree with Houston too. Paying for my child’s college is a generous thing to do, but even that shouldn’t be just expected. If I want to blow his inheritance on boats, travel, or wild parties at The Villages – that is my right and does not make me a bad or mean parent. I hope I’m raising my kid to be self-supporting, with some generous gifts once in a awhile and a safety net that are appreciated but not just expected. I feel the same way about our parents – thankful that I don’t really have to worry about them running out of money, and grateful at some of the surprise gifts (pretty much without strings) they’ve given us over the years.

  86. I tell my kids that the best inheritance we can give them is freeing them from any need to help us financially in old age.

    Reading these comments I feel as if I’m one of the few parents who wants their adult kids out of my house and on their own. At this point and probably for many years I have no interest in multiple generations living in one house. OTOH, for my H’s family it is a deeply ingrained tradition, and considered a tragedy if a grandparent lives alone. We actually remodeled our house with the possibility of having grandma move in, but as it turned out another sibling took on that role.

  87. Saint Louise, I agree that family harmony is sometimes worth the price of bearing seemingly unfair hardships. However, I sincerely hope you are not robbed of your own retirement enjoyment by having to be the primary caregiver for needy elderly ILs.

  88. We have a new superintendent in our district because the former superintendent retired in June after many years. She wasn’t perfect, but she fully understood the impact on parents when schools would have to close/early dismiss/late open. We have a new guy and he spent 20 years near Buffalo, but he grew up and went to public schools in the county.

    He made some bad decisions during the unexpected storm in November and he decided to close schools today even though most schools are open. Some schools had a two hour delay, but it seems that many schools have no delay and the schools are open. The roads are fine and it is in the single digits. Parents have turned to social media to vent and express their frustration about his decisions. He also abruptly canceled after school activities and after school daycare on Tuesday so parents are angry. I bet the guy might lose his job because of his handling of the closures because people are so angry. I am curious to see what happens because this is a small district and many people know someone on the Board of Ed.

  89. Dont get me wrong, DD needs to get back into her own place. Not for my sake, but hers. I had the years from 49 thru 65 with no kid in the house. And her being embedded in the current family is very helpful also in the unlikely event that I am unable to take of DH so that she can get him situated in assisted living and hand off to his son. She could also live in the house if it is empty of seniors and pay market rent to the trust that owns it. Under the more likely scenario, She wont be here much longer , and Ill have another 17 plus years kid free, probably many of them as a widow. My very old friends often have an adult grandchild in the house. That would be okay too.

  90. July – appreciate the sentiment of looking out for me. The ILs care will be seen to by a home health care aide should they need it. They have enough money to be able to afford this and my BILs can afford to pitch in, for the care of their parents.

  91. Lauren – I’m a bit surprised to hear about the superintendent’s background. BIMD we went to school in all sorts of terrible Western NY weather. Snow days were rare. My memory of afterschool activities being shut down is fuzzy. I would have been responsible for getting home, not my parents, in any event.

  92. The same parents would likely complain if there was bad weather and school was in session. Sometimes, you can’t win.

  93. We have a two hour delay – not sure why. One of the moms down the street is driving her kid and mine to school despite the fact that we only live a block away!!! Crazy.

  94. Districts in Westchester are having a lot of trouble hiring and keeping superintendents, despite the good salaries. I wonder if that is a nationwide problem

  95. The same parents would likely complain if there was bad weather and school was in session. Sometimes, you can’t win.

    Yes, this. Our public school district is geographically so large that you can get snow in the north but not a flake in the south. School closings have to be all or nothing. They usually make the call the night before because so many people are affected and many area daycares tie their closures to the school district. The private schools have more leeway and can take more of a wait and see approach.

  96. I needed to go to work at the same time #1 would have been taking the bus so I dropped her off today – I think ridership for the buses was probably low since it was -4 this morning. No delays though.

  97. I wonder if that is a nationwide problem

    It’s a thankless job and most of our superintendents don’t last long. Again, because of the geography they have to deal with Totebag schools on one end and having to improve failing schools on the other end.

  98. Sorry I missed this discussion. I had an all day leadership program event.

    Between graduation and moving out, I lived with my mom and paid “rent”. It was $100 per month to cover groceries and the uptick in utilities. I had to ask my mom to do it because I realized that I was making money and should contribute. At the time, I paid our family plan cell bill as well, so all told probably $150 per month.

    Now that roles are reversed, she does pay a bit towards groceries and utilities. Arguably, I probably shouldn’t charge her, but she wanted to contribute to the house. And who am I to fight her? She doesn’t pay for any social adventures the family does – dinners out, the zoo, or aquarium. If she chooses to pay, that’s a different story.

    I hope all are staying warm. DS had full school today, but I’m glad DS2 wasn’t going to daycare. One less oopma loompa to get into the car. Folks to the north of us had 2 hour delayed openings as the early AM temps were below zero. Ivy, TC, all those in the mid-west – I hope you are warm today!

  99. I wonder if the rationale for cancelling school was extra caution for the kids having to wait for school buses in 1 degree weather. I heard that concern for the personnel on runways was one of the reasons for many of the cancelled flights.

  100. In Seattle for snow days, they need to factor in not just the weather conditions in the city but also the outlying areas as many of the staff live outside the city (due to the high cost of living here). If the school bus drivers can’t make it in from where they live, then school may be canceled even if Seattle wasn’t affected. DS’ all time best day of school was the day when there was both a 2 hour late start and then a 2 hour early dismissal which meant his school day consisted of gym, lunch and recess :-) This was in first grade.

    Seattle School District also has a hard time keeping good superintendents. And I think being on the school board has got to be the worst. It pays next to nothing (it’s essentially volunteer), is a huge time commitment, you’re dealing with angry parents, etc.

  101. In our area it isn’t so much the waiting at the bus stop (which is dangerous at -25), but also the reliability of the diesel buses (diesel does not do well in extreme low temps) and also kids being driven in cars. If there is an accident or a car breaks down the occupants can get frostbite or worse. That being said, at 1 degree weather the buses would be fine. It also helps that everyone here has the gear to deal with zero degrees.

  102. I don’t like this new guy and it has very little to do with his decisions about the weather. This is a cushy job for him because we’re a micro district and he is making more than his old salary for running a very large upstate district.

    We were fortunate that our last super stayed for ten years. I understand these are tough jobs, but they get paid a quarter of a mill, plus generous benefits plus excellent pension and retirement.

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