It’s OK to Say No to Adult Children: Set Financial Boundaries
Competing financial priorities might have an impact on the future. Often, we see this clash between the desire to provide a college education for our children and the desire to contribute toward our own retirement investing. Now, as many children return to live with parents following college graduation, this financial impact can potentially be even more extensive.
It can be hard to tell our kids no, no matter how old they are. We love them. We provide for them. We “rescue” them when they need help. But it’s important to set boundaries. In fact, it’s essential when you are providing some support to adult children. These boundaries aren’t just about who will do which household chores, but should also cover finances.
*It’s ok to charge rent if they live with you and they are working. Now, this rent doesn’t have to be as much as living on one’s own, but it might potentially cover the additional utilities, food, and other expenses by having another person in the house.
*It’s ok to set a time limit on how long they can stay. I don’t know if you saw that case recently where the parents had to go to court to get their son out of the basement? Yeah, let’s try and avoid that by setting a time frame so that you might downsize if need be. The family home may be expensive to hold on to with rising property and school taxes, for example.
*It’s ok to limit the amount of financial support you provide. Perhaps you cap it out at a certain dollar figure and the rest they must come up with on their own. With the gig economy, there are many part time opportunities.
*No, you do not have to co-sign that car loan, mortgage, or major purchase. That may not be a risk you are in a position to take financially - and it’s ok to say so.
Whatever boundaries you decide upon, there is no need to feel guilty. You need to consider your own financial comfort and security now and down the road. What if a major medical expense popped up? What if you lost your job? What if you got divorced? So many things can happen.
Telling your adult children “no” does not mean you do not love them. In fact, enabling them to stand on their own two feet can help empower them to have the satisfaction of achievement and success. Once again, talking about money is not just polite - it’s essential. A financial advisor may help.
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations to any individual.
Seek professional advice before taking any action in regard to your finances.
Todd A. Slingerland, CFP®
6 Tower Place Albany, NY 12203