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Friday, May 24, 2024   

Adults Living With Parents
by Gary Foreman
Gary Foreman is a former Certified Financial Planner (CFP) who currently writes about family finances and edits The Dollar Stretcher website http://www.stretcher.com. You'll find hundreds of FREE articles to stretch your day and your budget!
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Gary Foreman


I am in such a bind - I don't know what to do. I do not live luxuriously by any means. I work full time and make about $45K a year. I own my own condo, I have no car payment, and very few expenses other than standard utilities, food, phone, etc., and my kids. I have two older daughters, both 21 (one lives here with me along with her boyfriend and one year old child). My other daughter lives here as well and goes to college full-time. I also have a 12 year old. None of them gives me money. I have a lot of debts that are very old - old credit cards, old utility bills, etc. I am having an extremely hard time making ends meet. I don't go out, I don't shop, I don't go to the movies or out to dinner. I don't spend my money foolishly, yet it seems I never have enough money for my bills, never mind anything for me personally. I haven't taken a vacation in ten years. I am becoming very bitter about working so hard my whole life and feeling like I have nothing...Do you have any suggestions for me? I must be doing something wrong...


No wonder Deena's tired! She's trying to support a family of six on a single income. Not to mention the old debts that demand attention. According to the U.S. Statistical Abstract, the average family of five or more people spent $52,565 in 2003. With an annual income of $45,000 it's understandable that she doesn't have money leftover at the end of the month.

She has some special expenses, too. Based on the USDA Cost of Raising a Child Chart she'll spend $3,953 on food, clothing, healthcare and miscellaneous items during a toddler's second year.

And, there's the daughter in college. According to CollegeBoard.com, if Deena's daughter is going to a public two year college and living at home, tuition and fees cost $1,905 in 2003. They're certainly more now.

What can Deena do to close the budget gap? She can increase income or reduce expenditures.

Either the young mother or her boyfriend should be contributing to the family income. Even a minimum wage job will bring in hundreds each week.

Anyone not working outside the home should help reduce expenses inside the home. That includes both the 12 year old and the college student.

Food shopping and preparation is an excellent source for savings. The "average" family of 5+ members spends $8,178 annually on food. They can start by creating a weekly menu based on the grocery store ads. There's plenty of hands to help with the cooking. That should eliminate the need for restaurants, fast food or pizza deliveries. Proper meal planning, along with the use of coupons and a price book could cut their grocery bill by 25%. Not only will they be saving money, but the younger members of the family will learn a valuable skill.

The combination of at least one extra income and a reduction in expenses should provide Deena with some financial breathing room.

Getting her family to participate will probably be harder. Like many parents, Deena seems to be having trouble getting her adult children out on their own. By some estimates roughly one third of all singles in their 20's live with their parents.

It's hard for Deena. Protecting our children is part of parenting. But so is teaching them to be self-reliant. At some point our 'help' actually disables them. They need to know that they are capable of running their own lives. And part of that process is getting and keeping a job. Being responsible for earning your living expenses is another part.

She can help her older daughters create a plan for their financial independence. For the college student it might include living at home until she graduates, but a different plan if she drops out of school. For the young mother and her family it would include finding employment, creating a budget and moving to an apartment.

Deena will need to explain to her 21 year olds that they need to contribute to the family. And, that if they don't contribute that she'll ask them to leave. That won't be easy to do. Deena may be concerned that if she tosses her daughter, boyfriend and baby out that they'll be homeless.

One way to avoid that is to help them with their plan and make them complete the necessary steps that will lead to their independence. Deena may want to bring in a financial adviser. Especially if she has a hard time standing firm with her children.

When Deena's kids were small she helped them take their first steps knowing that they'd fall and she'd help them up to try again. The stakes are a little higher now, but the principles are the same. As parents our job is to teach them to walk on their own and encourage them along the way.



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