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Empty Nests Can Quickly Fill Up Again | By Eddie Waren

You’ve raised your children and provided for them to the best of your abilities. They’ve left the family nest and are now independent adults. But what happens when adult children return to live at home or come to you asking for financial assistance? How would you respond to this possibility?

If you find yourself in this situation, you’re not alone. According to the National Credit Union Administration, nearly four million people between the ages of 25 and 34 live with their parents.

When faced with this situation, your first instinct may be to help your children out. But before you loosen your purse strings too much you should ask yourself if you are helping empower your children to build – or rebuild – their financial independence.

There may be some effects on your lifestyle and financial well being as well when trying to help out your children. You’ve worked hard to build a nest egg that you expect to support your retirement lifestyle. One of your challenges in this situation will be to help your child without damaging your own financial security by depleting the assets you’ve earmarked for your retirement.

If you had planned to maximize your 401(k) and your IRA contributions this year, you shouldn’t change your plans in order to be able to use that money to help your child with their financial problems. You may lose potential investment returns that these contributions can provide during the next few years.

Let’s take a look at some of the things you should discuss with your children as your empty nest fills up again:

Dealing with rent, room and board. Part of your “contract” needs to be a negotiated amount of rent or room and board. You should consider adjusting this amount according to your child’s income level and make it meaningful, yet realistic.

You can treat the payment truly as rent or use it to create a savings account for your child. If you choose to use it as rent payment, you will need to report that income for tax purposes. If you choose to treat it as the child’s money, you can begin to create a nest egg for your child you can hand back to them as they venture back out on their own.

Establishing spending boundaries. Another important step for this to be a successful arrangement is to discuss a budget and acceptable expenses for the child. You should discuss what expenses you are willing to cover and which expenses are up to your child to manage. In addition, you should encourage your child to save any extra money instead of using it to buy clothes or for weekend activities.

Managing debt. Many adult children return home because they’re unable to afford living expenses, groceries and student loan payments. As part of the budget you create, set aside an amount for debt repayments. You may be able to match a portion of their debt repayment if you choose to do so.

Help your child develop solid money skills. Educating your child about the benefits of managing money well and developing sound financial skills is vital. Teach them how to track and control spending, live on a budget, handle credit properly and save systematically.

The most important thing to remember if your adult child returns home is to negotiate and set the expectations, behaviors and financial arrangements up front. This way you can reduce family friction and help avoid potential conflicts down the road.

A.G. Edwards generally acts as a broker-dealer, but may act as an investment advisor on designated accounts, and the firm’s obligations will vary with the role it plays. When working with clients the firm generally acts as a broker-dealer unless specifically indicated in writing. To better understand the differences between brokerage and advisory services, please consult Important Information About Your Relationship With A.G. Edwards on agedwards.com/disclosures.

A.G. Edwards does not render legal, accounting or tax preparation advice. You should consult your tax and legal advisors for questions regarding your specific situation.

This article was provided by Eddie Waren, manager of A.G. Edwards & Sons, Inc., Member SIPC. He is the brother of CityView’s publisher, Marshal Waren.