Charging Kids Rent

Are you letting your kids get used to indulging themselves way more than they should?

I am constantly amazed at the number of people I meet who have grown children living at home paying no rent. Those kids are working. And they’re spending. But, for whatever reason, their parents don’t think they need to be paying rent. Whazzup with that?

If you’re one of those kids, or one of those parents, it’s time to get real.

When adult children live at home, work, and pay no rent, they are learning to live on a disposable income they will never again have in their lives. That’s right. They are learning that they can spend every cent they make on their personal indulgences.

So what happens when they finally move out? (You do want them to eventually move out, don’t you?)

Well, let’s take the case of Donna and Dick: they both lived at home before they married; they both had lots of money for concerts, shopping, fast cars and eating out. Now they’re married and they’ve bought a home. Donna can’t sleep at night because she can’t believe the bills that are piling up. Dick thinks he’s going to be trapped in his house for the rest of his life, because he doesn’t have any money to do ANYTHING.

Up until they married, Donna and Dick had no idea what real life cost. And because their well-intentioned parents didn’t make ‘em pay rent, they didn’t even dip their big toes into the reality pool.

Okay, if you’re a parent you’re probably whining at me. “I can’t take money from my kids.” Why the hell not? If they were living on their own, they would easily be spending 35 percent of their income on housing … never mind food. If you don’t take rent, you’re a bad parent. Yep! You are! You’re abdicating your responsibility to teach your kids (adults) about what life is really like. And you’re letting them get used to indulging themselves way more than they should.

When Nat and Matt got married, the only thing Matt had ever been responsible for was his cell phone bill. Pathetic! She inherited a baby from his parents. And then she had to job of growing him up. Shame on Matt’s parents.

There’s one more excuse I’ve heard parents use for not taking rent from their working children living at home: “She’s trying to save money.” Really? Saving for what? A downpayment on a home. Terrific. Take the rent money and put it away and then give it back as a gift when the time comes for your princess to buy her palace. Ya see, she’s supposed to be saving anyway. We all are. So the fact that she has to pay rent isn’t an excuse not to save.

When should you start making your kids pay rent? As soon as they have a full time job. If they’re still in school and barely making ends meet, and you have the resources to help them get an education without burying themselves in debt, go for it. But they minute they are working full time (even it that’s three part-time jobs), they should be contributing to the household so they learn what real life costs.

As for all you parents who are still doing your grown children’s laundry, cooking their meals, packing them lunch, and all the other things you do, hey, that’s between you and your kids. Far be it from me to tell you what you should or shouldn’t do for your kids. If you want them to be your major pastime, have fun. But if you’re letting them learn the worst possible financial habits, then shame on you.

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