When Should Children Become Financially Independent | Refresh Financial

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Should They Stay or Should They Go: When Should Your Children Become Financially Independent?

Kids are expensive. Adult kids are even more expensive. With today’s housing market and cost of living, though, more and more kids are living at home with mom and dad much longer than they used to. But how long should you let them do that? Does your financial drain outweigh their financial stability? Does allowing them to stay as long as they want, set them up for a future of financial insecurity? What is the right thing to do? When should they fly the coop and become financially independent?

The short answer? It depends on your specific situation.

What? I said it was short, I didn’t say it was easy.

To sort out whether or not you should let your adult child stay in the family home well into adulthood instead of moving out and becoming responsible for paying their own way, ask yourself these questions:

Is my son or daughter a student taking on huge amounts of debt to finish a degree that they have worked hard to obtain?

If the answer to this is yes, choosing this moment to send them out into the wide, expensive world may do nothing more than short change them financially and potentially force them to take a hiatus from school or slow down with their degree. Your child is doing the right thing and working hard for a better future for themselves - it’s not like they’re leeching off you while staying home every day playing video games. Lending your support until they're financially independent and set up for a secure financial future is the absolute best thing you can do.

If my son or daughter is not a student, is he or she working? Do they have a job?

Do they take their job seriously? Does your son or daughter appear to value their work and the money they have earned? Take action if your child is not working or they are working but it sort of seems as though they just have a low-paying, low-responsibility part-time job just to please you with the bare-minimum effort. You should not be paying for a grown adult to laze around the home you worked hard to own. Beyond just the principle of it, you’re not doing your child any favours, either. If you ever want to see them financially secure and independent, they’re going to have to start sooner rather than later.

If my child is not a student and does not have a job, are they working hard to find employment?

In some places, it can be really tricky to find a job. As long as you see a real, aggressive effort towards gaining meaningful employment, supporting your son or daughter is a good thing.

Does my child contribute to the household expenses?

If he or she has an income, do they pay their own way? If not, it might be time to expect that of them. It’s more than just recovering the costs of having an adult child at home. It’s also about preparing them and priming them to be able to handle their own finances when they do finally find themselves on their own.

Does my son or daughter carry their weight around the house?

This is going to be easy to answer for most parents of adult children living at home. Usually, you either have a lazy, unmotivated kid, or you’ve got a mature adult who's more than happy to help out. If yours is the former, and they are of adult age and still behaving this way, probably the only thing that’s going to get them moving and carrying their own weight is being on their own. You might seriously consider asking your son or daughter to move out.

Is my son or daughter making an effort to save money and maintain a good credit rating?

If your child is just spending their money without care, this is a huge sign they desperately need to learn how to manage their money. If you let them continue on the path they’re on, they will never find financial security and will always rely on you for monetary support. Perhaps leaving the nest and starting their own life is the step they need.

If, after asking yourself these questions, you feel you have to encourage your child to move out, it’s not going to be easy. Just keep reminding yourself that you are a parent first and a friend second, and that the worst thing you could do as a parent is enable your child while they refuse to grow up. Both immediately and in the long run, it’s less expensive for you, sure. But it also increases the chances that your son or daughter is going to be financially secure and independent if you’re not paying their way through life in adulthood. Remind yourself that a responsible, hard-working, financially secure adult is what you’re aiming for - this is a far better reward than them having a good opinion of you in the moment. Remind yourself that you’re doing it for them.

How old were you when you moved out of your childhood home and became financially independent? Let us know in the comments!

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