Boomerang Babies

 

“My kids will never come back to live with us after they are launched.” 

“I don’t have worry about boomerang children, mine have great jobs.”

“Junior would never get into trouble and need me to bail him out, he’s a good boy.”

Have you ever made a declarative statement that you had to take back and eat, along with a big, fat slice of humble pie?  I have. In fact, I’ve eaten so much humble pie that I’ve put on five pounds just this week!  Let me clarify that I haven’t had to eat any pie about boomerang babies as of date, and I don’t intend to start now. That’s why I’m approaching today’s blog very circumspectly.

“Failure to Launch” is not only a popular Matthew McConaughey movie (would someone puleeze give that man a shirt!). It’s also a syndrome in America among Boomer parents and their babies. There are many reasons for this boomerang barrage. One primary factor has to do with the unemployment rate among 20 to 24 year olds, which was 15.4% last year according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Furthermore, statistics from the Pew Research Center indicated that 13% of American parents with an adult child had a child move back into the family home. While 40% of recent college graduates still live at home.

Money matters are the number one reason why these kiddies come back home to mommy and daddy as well as the struggling economy, student loan debt, consumer debt and in some cases legal troubles. 

There is good news and bad news for families in this situation. A boomerang incidence is bad when the children have an entitlement mentality, don’t carry their own weight in the home, are not looking for work, and cause their parents to delay retirement in order to get them financially settled. In short, when they are mooching.

The good news of the situation exists when this living arrangement is only temporary and involves a solid exit plan. In fact, it can be a great bonding time between generations, especially if there are grandchildren involved.

But one thing is certain:  boomerang babies introduce more stress into the household for everyone involved. But what to do? What to do?

Here is a suggested motto for a situation like this, just tell those babies:  “My love for you is unconditional, but my money is not.”  Your “money” in this case includes your home, furnishings, food, car, cash, retirement fund, home equity, phones, insurance, and anything else in your monthly budget that is impacted by new peeps living with you! If your resources are going out, then there needs to be requirements attached.

Here are some guidelines to follow if you find yourself in this situation:

  • DTR – “Define The Relationship” by discussing the living arrangement and defining the expectations on both sides. Come to an agreement as to what is expected of one another and delineate the boundaries.
  • Develop An Exit Strategy First – A solid exit strategy will have them back on their own between 3 and 6 months. If they know when they will be expected say “sayonara,” then that gives them a deadline to work toward in becoming financially independent again. It also helps to eliminate resentment when the time doth draw nigh.
  • Do What – Do What? – This is your new song, in that you are going to ask that son or daughter to do their portion for the household. This could mean doing chores and paying rent, or contributing by buying groceries and paying the light bill. The more uncomfortable it becomes in the parent’s home, the more motivation that child has to re-launch.  
  • Define the Rules – Unlike the DTR step, this is the part of the exit strategy that includes the establishment of a budget for the adult child. If they are living in your home, then you have the right to oversee a budget that will help them live on their own again. The idea of this may seem to restrict their freedom but it’s all part of the diabolical plan to give them the gift of financial freedom.
  • Demand the Rent – Once they are employed, then begin to increase the rent over the course of the next months until they are ultimately paying the same rent to you that they would be paying for a place of their own. YES, it’s probably more than what your lovely room and board is worth—BUT THAT’S THE POINT! You want them to see how it’s not worth it to live with mumsey, it’s a better value elsewhere.
  • Do Unto Others –– If you want to be kind (and sneaky), then you can take half the rent they give you (in the previous point) and put it in an account that you can relinquish to them forthe first and last month’s rent on a place of their own. But you don’t “owe” them this act of kindness, your money, after all, is conditional while your love is unconditional and don’t let them trap you into defining your love with how much you pay their way.
  • Do Give Them Wisdom – In some cases, the best assistance you can give them (besides the establishment of a budget) is to get them to a financial counselor such as www.nfcc.org that will help them for free. The National Foundation for Credit Counseling can renegotiate loans, restructure debt and provide accountability outside of your direct influence. There’s nothing like a third party to be the bad guy when it comes to letting them know the real deal in the real world and the accountability that the NFCC requires is nothing short of beautiful.   
  • Don’t Bail them Out! – Just remember the idea of precedence:  what you do once, you will have to do again for the same child (or for another one of your children). Keep in mind your needs such as retirement, getting under water in your home, paying your bills, your credit scores and your financial future. We owe our children food, shelter and clothing for 18 years and the training to launch on their own. We owe them unconditional love for a lifetime. But we don’t owe them a bailout when they overextend themselves or fail to plan responsibly.  

Ellie Kay

America’s Family Financial Expert ®

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